Japanese heritage: Sakura, the legendary flower of Japan

by ebazaar 27 August 2009 No Comment

To me, it’s like one of the many wonders in this world where we lived in – the ‘Sakura’ flowers or ‘cherry blossom’ some may have called it. When you’re looking at the pictures of Sakura trees in rows, it is so beautiful ‘as if’ like you’re watching a field of tulips in Netherlands, with a little more oriental touch. Alas, I had to admit, they’re rather incomparable to any other things in this world.

All these years of my life, when I come across the word Sakura, I only remember Japan. And I had thought since then, that it’s their national flower. But it’s not. They don’t have any national flowers, but the influence of Sakura or ‘cherry blossom’ is so huge in Japanese culture and life making it the unofficial national flower of Japan. The word Sakura is equivalent to ‘Japanese flowering cherry’.

sakura in taiwan

Sakura in taiwan

There are actually many types of this plant and rather indigenous to many Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and China. You can even find some in Taiwan and countries with similar climate like in some part of America, in Canada and even in India. (can you imagine Sakura trees in India??…) In short to say, no other countries publicize, monopolize and idolize this flower more than Japan to the extend that it has become somewhat of their trademark.

sakura-on-100-yen-coinYou can find cherry blossom in their 100 yen coins, common names of people, in authentic cuisines and common foods (yup, it’s even edible!), widely used in their literature, religion and cultural aspects and elements through arts, songs, kimono design and dishware.

sakura design on kimono Sakura symbolize femininity, affection, and emblem of love and beauty as well the freshness and tranquility of spring. It also means good fortune or omen. You can actually find many of Sakura trees planted in temples, palaces, castles and parks.

Somei Yoshino - Sakura treeBasically, you can find numerous types of Sakura flowers in Japan but the most famous and popular one is called ‘Somei Yoshino’, where its flowers are almost pure white with a little tinge of pale pink near the stem of the flowers. It falls usually after a week after its initial bloom every year, right before the leaves come out.

I had thought that Sakura flowers are the types that bloom at the same time all over Japan, but I was proven wrong. This is because they bloom at an interval according to places and time. Sakura usually starts blooming in January, which is like around the near end of winter season from down southwest part of Japan (Okinawa) and continues up north gradually. Sakura season usually ends around end of May.

I’ll talk about Hanami in my upcoming post.

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