Sakura Season

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Where I live, it’s cherry blossom season. It’s cherry blossom season where a lot of Americans live. US cities that boast large collections of cherry blossom trees include:

  • Portsmouth, NH
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Macon, GA
  • Belleville, Bloomfield, and Newark, NJ
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Washington, DC
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC celebrates the 1912 gift of cherry trees from Japan.  This year’s annual festival is the 99th, and concludes on Sunday, April 10, 2011.  For more details and event information, click on the image below:

    Most people associate cherry blossoms with the nation of Japan, although the flowering trees bloom in several countries in East Asia. In Japan, the cherry blossoms are known as “sakura”, pronounced: sah-KOO-rah. While these trees do not produce fruit, the flowers are sometimes used in Japanese cuisine for special teas, condiments and confections.

    The annual Japanese ritual of viewing and picnicking amongst the cherry blossom is called “hanami”, pronounced: hah-NAH-mee, and dates back to the early 700’s. (No, that is not a typo. Hanami has been a part of Japanese life and culture for around 1300 years.)  Cherry blossom imagery can be found in film, music, textiles, sculpture, poetry, literature and fine art.

    "Evening glow at Koganei Bridge" (1838) by Hiroshige

    In Japan, the cherry blossom season moves across the map from south to north. Weather forecasters track the cherry blossom front as the new blooms appear in each region. In every area, the flowers are on the trees for around two weeks. January brings the first flowers to Okinawa, while Kyoto and Tokyo see their first flowers in late March or the very beginning of April.

    Image courtesy of japanprobe.com

    The first of April is the beginning of the school year and the fiscal year in Japan. The blooming season is associated with the similar back-to-school Fall feeling we Americans get when we see the first tree leaves start to turn gold, red or orange. Many public institutional buildings have cherry trees planted in front of them as a symbol of strength, renewal, and hope.

    Image courtesy of newnaturewallpaper.com

    I would be negligent in writing this post if I did not discuss Japan’s current earthquake/tsunami crisis. Understanding the history and poignancy of the cherry blossom is a solemn reminder of the thousands of communities in need. If ever Japan needed an extra helping of hope, it is now. If you can send some hope their way, please click on the link I’ve created below.

    If you would like to bring some cherry blossoms into your own home, I’ve linked some timeless decor items below to browse.

    "Cherry Blossom Candle" by Red Envelope

    "Cherry Blossom Spa Collection" by World of Gift Baskets

    "Cherry Blossom Duvet" by West Elm

    "Cherry Blossom Earring Tree" by Red Envelope

    "Cherry Blossoms" A look at Japan's national flower in art across the centuries

    Have you ever been to a cherry blossom festival? Do you have cherry trees in your area? What marks the beginning of Spring for you?

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    Posted on March 30, 2011, in Decor, Lifestyle. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

    1. Thanks for this post. It’s nice to remember that there is something really beautiful about Japan after such a horrible tragedy. Hopefully the blooming of the blossoms there will bring hope of renewal and recovery.

      I’ve been around cherry blossoms and my favorite part isn’t the blooming, it’s when the petals all fall to the ground and the wind blows them around on the sidewalk like currents of snow. It’s beautiful.

    2. We’re waiting for our cherry tree to bloom. The buds are out and, hopefully, today’s snow didn’t hurt them. It’s always a sure sign of spring and it’s sad when the petals fall in just a few days. If only the blossoms would last a little longer and let us enjoy their glory more. But, like Joel says, the petals are pretty too.

    3. I have always loved cherry blossoms. I especially love them featured in Asian art. My heart goes out to the Japanese people. Thanks for the history of this beautiful flower.

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