Hooray, Sakura Season is upon us!
It is a time where Tokyo (and the rest of Japan) turn pink and people escape outdoors with their picnics and tripods.
‘Sakura’ is the Japanese word for the Japanese cherry or Prunus serrulata. For most of the year, the thousands of Prunus all over the country blend in with all the other deciduous trees, but in spring they turn Japan pink virtually overnight.
The blossoms hold deep significance to the Japanese. They are deeply rooted in their traditions and cultures, linking back to the Heian Period (794-1185) to the samurai’s, the Edo Period and even as recent as the kamikaze pilots in WWII. Due to the intense beauty and fleeting nature of the blossoms- they serve as a visual reminder of how overwhelmingly beautiful yet how short life can be.
Each year, the Japanese follow the Sakura Forecast as the trees come into bloom from Okinawa in January, through to Kyushu in mid March, Central Honshu (Tokyo) in late March, North Honshu in April and Hokkaido in early May. Once the blooms arrive, the Japanese celebrate the blossoms by holding a ‘Hanami’.
‘Hanami’ is directly translated as flower viewing. ‘Hanami’ can be a stroll in the park, admiring the flowers, but traditionally it is a picnic under the trees, with friends and family, food, drink and music. Why not, they are truly beautiful!
But there is more to the festivities than just a big party. Due to the fleeting nature of the blossoms-they serve as a visual reminder of the beauty and frailty of our life. So when the Japanese enjoy their picnics, under the shower of blossom petals, they are being reminded about larger meaning and traditions that the ‘Hanami’ festival has.
To see the Sakura Forecast for 2014, click here