The prospect of spring is a rather thrilling reality for the many who endured a particularly bitter winter, and that is perhaps no more manifest than this year. Once again we will be treated to the seasons many wonders, blooming flowers, glorious weather, and clear skies just to mention a few treats that are forthcoming.
For those in the orient who enjoy four seasons, spring also heralds the arrival of a particularly splendid event. For many it is that much coveted time of the beautiful cherry blossom.
Cherry blossoms are the flowers of any of many trees of the genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry also sometimes referred to as sakura. Several varieties were cultivated through the years for ornamental use, but as result no longer produce fruit. These varieties however are surely a sight to see in full bloom, as most Hanami observers knew.
Hanami is the practice from many centuries ago of picnicking underneath a blooming sakura tree. The tradition is thought to have begun during the Nara Period from 710–794. Beneath the sakura trees, people had meals and partook of sake to celebrate joyful feasts. Cherry blossoms are a source of pride and are cultural symbol of Japan, revered for their gentle pink loveliness despite their brief lifespans.
Every spring, and this year is no different, they blossom in droves all over Japan, bringing many thousands of admirers to marvel at them. The tradition has in fact spread out beyond Japan’s shores, with cherry blossom celebrations also happening in countries like Taiwan and the United States.
They are also a spectacular site to behold in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., as they likewise make their brief appearance for all during spring. The tree is so ingrained into Japanese culture that a vast majority of Japanese schools as well as public buildings have cherry blossom trees within their grounds. In April, in many parts of Honshū, the first day of work or school coincides with the cherry blossom season.
To further demonstrate the Japanese adoration for the tree, the Japan Cherry Blossom Association came-up with a list of the country’s best 100 Cherry Blossom locations with at least one location in each prefecture.