In Japan, ‘Sakura’ does not refer to a single type of flower but rather a genre of Prunus or Prunus subgroup Cerasus broadly known as the Japanese cherry blossom trees.
Sakuras are commonly found in shades of pale pink, dark pink, white & the slightly rarer yellow, which I have not chanced across.
In Japan, cherry blossoms are considered a national tree & it represents hope & renewal as they bloom in Spring.
The transience, exquisite beauty & volatility of the blossoms is associated to the Shinto concept of “Mono no aware” which dates back to the 18th century scholar Motoori Norinaga.
Contrary to what many people believe, Sakura is not ubiquitous to Japan and can be found in East Asia including China & Korea. They are ornamental & not to be confused with the Cherry trees that produce fruit for eating.
This is a fine example of the Shidarezakura or Weeping Cherry tree where the branches cascade downwards bearing pretty flowers. In the United States of America, cherry blossom viewing began to spread after Japan presented them with trees as a token of friendship in 1912. Visit Washington D.C. in springtime & you will see the nation’s capital accented in pink.
“Koinobori” or Carp Streamers are actually wind socks traditionally flown in Japan to celebrate “Tango no sekku” which is now designated Children’s Day which is celebrated on 5th May on the last day of Golden Week. Landscapes across Japan will be decorated from April till early May in honour of children for a good future & in the hope that they grow up healthy & strong.
Colourful umbrellas with sakura motifs
“Hanami” or flower party was originally used to divine the year’s harvest & rice planting season. People believed the trees had spirits & made offerings which they later partook with sake. Emperor Saga of the Heian period adopted this practice & held flower viewing parties with sake feasts underneath the blossoming boughs of sakura trees in the Imperial Court in Kyoto.
The ancient form of “Hanami” was enjoying plum blossoms in a tranquil environment unlike today’s lively sakura parties which sees a younger crowd at the parks that is sardine packed & boisterous. Under the sakura trees, people eat lunch & drink sake in cheerful feasts.
“Yozakura” is the night time version of “Hanami” & in many places or parks, temporary paper lanterns are hung or electrical ones are hung on the trees for evening enjoyment. Feasting & drinking sake is part of the celebration.
Japan is still closed to tourists, so we cannot go there to enjoy the sakuras or wisterias just yet. With eager anticipation, we await the day when their doors are open once again.
Thankful to Gardens By the Bay for bringing the sakuras to us in Singapore this year.
Tokidoki Unicorno Cherry Blossom – Haru & Harumi spices up the sakura experience.
Tokidoki Unicorno Cherry Blossom – Yoshino
“Ikebana” is the Japanese art of flower arrangement that makes the flowers come alive. This tradition dates back to the Heian Period (794-1185) when floral offerings were made at altars.
Flower arrangements were later used to adorn the “tokonoma” or alcove of their traditional Japanese homes
Ikebana reached its zenith in the 16th century under the influence of the Buddhist tea masters & today, many schools have evolved.
“Ikebana” is of the 3 Classical Japanese arts of refinement. The other 2 being “Kodo” – incense appreciation & “Chado” the tea ceremony.
The Japanese continue the tradition of “Hanami” & come out in droves wherever flowering trees are located. Thousands of people can fill the parks to hold feasts under the trees & these parties go on until late at night.
Some people actually go to the parks hours or days before to keep the best spots for celebrating Hanami with their families, friends or co-workers. These parties involve eating, drinking, playing & listening to music.
Some special dishes like “dango”(colourful skewers in the picture) & bento boxes are prepared & eaten at the occasion & not forgetting sake which is drunk as part of the festivity.
A Cherry Blossom Front forecasts when the 1st blooms will open all over Japan & is followed closely by those who intend to celebrate Hanami. It usually starts in the Southern islands of Okinawa around end March & slowly move up North ending in Hokkaido where they bloom much later up till early May.

My wish is to visit Japan next year in 2023 to see the Wisterias in late spring. The plans I made in 2020 were abruptly aborted when CoVid 19 took the world by storm.

We all hope for some normalcy & for life to get back on track, whatever that means & it is really something subjective & I do not want to open any can of worms here.

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