Most would agree that the sakura, or the cherry blossom, is recognised as Japan’s national flower.
Every year, Japanese look forward to hanami, a picnic event to enjoy the blossoms, when the flowering period draws near.
Indeed when it nears spring, sakura always pop into your mind. Japanese people are especially fond of this flower. Hence, that is why, the sakura tree is planted nationwide. A street that is lined up with sakura trees is called a sakura namiki.
The sakura flower has continued to blossom in Japan since ancient times and it truly represents the Japanese spirit.
You can even find the sakura flower stamped onto the 100 yen coin.Ken OHYAMA/Flickr
As a traditional symbol of Japanese culture, sakura is regularly used as a source of inspiration for kimono prints and traditional Japanese textiles.
The usual flowering period begins from the beginning of April until the end of the month, although this varies by region and the weather. It blooms and then soon falls from the branches. This fleeting blossoming moment epitomises the unique sensitivity of the Japanese people that “all things will eventually pass” and their awareness to such impermanence. This flower cannot be separated from Japan’s culture and it is written about frequently in traditional poetry like haiku and tanka.
Japan’s history also shows that the flower appears in several songs, both traditional and contemporary.
In elementary schools, children are taught to sing the Japanese song “Sakura, Sakura” during their music lessons.
The clip below presents the song being strummed on a traditional Japanese musical instrument, the koto.
Current singers too haven’t strayed from their predecessors, creating songs that talk about the flower.
In Japan, the graduation ceremony is held in March and the entrance ceremony follows in April. The timing explains why most songs sung during both ceremonies are about sakura.
Also, for bilateral relations efforts, it is common for Japan to send sakura trees as a gift as seen with Japan sending sakura trees to the U.S. In return, the U.S. returned the kind gesture by presenting dogwood trees to Japan.y.ganden/Flickr
Every year in Japan, forecasts on when the flowers will bloom, the best viewing spots and so forth are the topics of conversation or news headlines during the spring.
It is no doubt that the sakura will always have a special place in the hearts of the Japanese people and every year, the people look forward to its blossoms. Because the flower represents Japan, it is also popular overseas, and many tourists come to Japan during cherry blossom season to see the beauty of the flowers.