Sakura Flower – The Complete Guide

5 min read

You have certainly heard of the spectacular flowering of cherry trees in Japan. If you haven’t, then, this article is for you. The sakura flower is also known by the name of the ornamental cherry tree. Sometimes, they are called Prunus serrulate, too. Furthermore, other cherry species have the same name.

This flower is known all over the world and has attracted tourists for many years, and the sakura became extremely popular during the Heian era in Japanese history. Today, the Japanese have decided to organize a traditional event in honor of this beautiful flower.

Since former times, people have been picnicking under the cherry blossoms. Today, we are going to learn more about the sakura symbolism and its history, including the following:

  • What is the meaning of sakura flowers?
  • What is the celebration of Hanami?
  • What are the different varieties of Japanese cherry?
  • What is the symbolism of sakura?
  • Growing sakura flowers in your garden
  • Sakura flower: a national symbol

What is the Meaning of Sakura Flowers?

In Japan, there is a traditional custom called “Hanami.” This tradition can be defined as the act of observing flowers and appreciating their beauty. This practice took its origins during the Nara era, in the 8th century. Sakura flowers bloom from April to May and attract tourists from all over the world.

In addition, the dates can vary according to the region and depend on the weather conditions. Many Japanese people follow the weather agency’s forecast with interest and curiosity so as not to miss the event.

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The appearance of the Japanese cherry blossom, and its disappearance a few days later, evokes the fleeting beauty of life. This reminds you to enjoy the beauty of nature. For this reason, many Japanese people surround themselves under flowering trees, in parks and gardens, with family and friends.

Visitors can share this experience under the thousand cherry trees in Ueno Park in Tokyo or in Yoshino.

What is the Celebration of Hanami?

In Japanese culture, the word Hanami stands for “look at the flowers.” This is a national tradition to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms (Sakura). From the south to the north of Japan, the Hanami begins with several weeks apart. In early April, the celebrations last about a week in Tokyo

Hanami is celebrated in almost all of the city’s parks, from the smallest to the largest, like a giant picnic. The most attractive places in Tokyo are Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park in Harajuku.

In addition, many tourists from all over the world choose to visit Japan at that time of the year. The reason is obvious. No wonder that the flowering trees offer a unique spectacle and the weather is perfect.

The Hanami season lasts about 10 days or two weeks maximum. We strongly recommend that you organize your trip early, as opposed to later, so that you can enjoy the beauty of Sakura.

What are the Different Varieties of Japanese Cherry?

The Japanese cherry is also known as Prunus serrulata. There are different fruits of cherry trees such as Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus. Both are known for their numerous serrated leaves, which turn yellow and red at the end of autumn.

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There are more than 100 varieties, distinguished by the shape, color, and a number of petals of their flowers. These ornamental cherry trees are cultivars.

The most common type on the Japanese archipelago is the Somei Yoshino. This cherry tree was created around 1720 by crossing the Oshima Zakura with the Edo Higan. Its flowers change color during flowering, changing from pale pink to white.

The flowers of the Japanese Kanzan cherry tree are born in the form of intense redbuds. Another remarkable variety is Prunus serrulata Sakura, whose drooping branches support beautiful clusters of bright pink flowers. There are around 600 varieties of cherry blossoms, all from the Rosaceae family.

What is the Symbolism of Sakura?

The cherry tree has become an image of Japanese culture. Nowadays, the cherry is used to represent Japan in the West. The sakura is a spiritual flower that reminds us of how beautiful life can be. The cherry blossom flower falls off after a few days. Associated to Japanese Buddhism, this belief generally symbolizes mortality in all types of art.

However, this beautiful pink and white flower has a dark history behind it. In the past, it was used as a nationalist symbol of propaganda during the Second World War. Since that time, however, the sakura has gained a good reputation.

Cherry blossoms stand for “life is short and beautiful.” They are used also to wish good luck for someone close to you. The cherry blossom is a sign of renewal, ephemeral beauty, evolution. You can offer this flower with the arrival of a new family member or with the return of spring.

Growing Sakura Flower in your Garden

Do you want to bring a tree that has a great history of symbolism and meaning in your garden? This sounds like a fantastic idea. Growing Sakura doesn’t require much care and attention, and they are a welcome sight as spring begins.

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First look for a variety of ornamental cherry that can support the weather in your area and in your garden. Keep in mind that the cherry tree grows well in very different conditions. You can probably keep one indoors in a large pot during the winter, too.

The cherry tree needs to be exposed to the sun and loose soil for it to develop deep roots. The tree can grow quickly, like a bonsai tree, and the flowers appear after two or three years.

Sakura Flower: A National Symbol

Today, the Hanami cherry blossom is widely seen as an inspiration to the Japanese. They are found in poems and songs. Their petals remind us that life is short and that we must take advantage of it.

The sakura flower invites each one of us to take the time to reflect on our desires and personal projects. In particular, there is a focus on the professional career, since the Hanami sakura appears just before the start of the school year.

Nowadays, the flowering of cherry trees is a moment of introspection to the future. For good reason, the sakura bloom just before April, a very important month in Japan!

Traditionally associated with Hanami celebrations, the cherry flower, also known as the “sakura flower” is a very important symbol for Japanese people. More than just a flower, it is a part of multi-hundred tradition and still exists, today.  In this case, the cherry flower is a symbol of a whole nation.

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