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Cherry Blossom Season

"Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
In fields, mountains and villages
As far as the eye can see.
Is it mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the rising sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom. "

~ Translation of "Sakura, Sakura"

"Sakura Sakura" (さくら さくら, "Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms"), is a traditional Japanese folk song celebrating spring, the season of cherry blossoms. Each year, the date of the first blooming of cherry blossoms is closely watched in Japan and elsewhere. The blooming cycle of the cherry tree is short-lived, usually just one to two weeks from the first buds opening (kaika) to full bloom (mankai). But their ephemeral beauty is much anticipated, particularly when the fluttering petals fill the air and blanket the ground. The most popular variety of cherry blossom in Japan is the Somei Yoshino. Its flowers are nearly pure white, tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem. In Japan, cherry blossoms symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse. They have long been seen as an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, which is embodied in the Japanese concept of mono no aware (the awareness of impermanence or transience of things). 🌸

It's the season for Cherry Blossom festivals in Japan, and in many other places around the world.

This is one of a set of four tartans in 'The Four Seasons' collection by designer David McGill, created in 2008 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first treaty between Japan and the UK (1858) and the arrival of Thomas Blake Glover, the Scottish Samurai, in Nagasaki (1859).

The sakura (cherry blossom in Japanese) tartan represents Spring.


Hanami (花見?, lit. "flower viewing") is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers, flowers ("hana") in this case almost always referring to those of the cherry ("sakura") or, less frequently, plum ("ume") trees.

 

From the end of March to early May, sakura bloom all over Japan. The blossom forecast (桜前線 sakura-zensen, literally, cherry blossom front) is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two.

For a beautiful gallery of cherry blossom photos from Japan, click the blossoming trees.

 

And to find the dates and locations of cherry blossom festivals in your area for your own hanami, click here.