Sakura

Country: Japan Category: Plants By: Kiki
Sakura
Sakura or "cherry blossom" is the Japanese name for ornamental cherry trees, Prunus serrulata, and their blossoms. Cherry fruit (known as sakuranbo) comes from a different species of tree. Sakura is also commonly used as a woman's name.

Sakura is indigenous to the Himalayas, North Bengal (now Bangladesh) and in east Asia such as China, Japan and Korea. Japan has a wide variety of sakura; more than 305 cultivars can be found there. Many were artificially hybridized or grafted by Japanese horticulturalists centuries ago.

During the Heian Period (7941191), the Japanese nobility sought to emulate many practices from China, including the social phenomenon of flower viewing (hanami) where the imperial households, poets, singers, and other aristocrats would gather and party under the blossoms. The first recorded flower-viewing event took place at Kyoto's Shinsen-en Garden in 812. In China, the ume "plum" tree (actually a species of apricot) was held in highest regard, but by the middle of the ninth century, the sakura had replaced the plum as the favored species in Japan.

Every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the sakura zensen (cherry-blossom front) as it moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather via nightly forecasts following the weather segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. It proceeds into areas at the higher altitudes and northward, arriving in Hokkaido a few weeks later. Japanese pay close attention to these forecasts and turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines, and temples with family and friends to hold flower-viewing parties. Hanami festivals celebrate the beauty of the sakura and for many are a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful view. The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan: the eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century CE.

Most Japanese schools and public buildings have sakura trees outside of them. Since the fiscal and school year both begin in April, in many parts of Honshu, the first day of work or school coincides with the cherry blossom season.

In China, the cherry blossom is a symbol of feminine beauty. It also represents the feminine principle and love in the language of herbs. In Japan, cherry blossoms symbolize the transience of life because of their short blooming times. They have also come to represent clouds of their nature of blooming en masse. Falling blossoms are metaphors for fallen warriors who died bravely in battle. This connotation links them with the samurai. This theme remains alive today and is often observed in pop culture. The flower is also represented on all manner of consumer goods, including kimono, stationery, and dishware. Cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, and as such are frequently depicted in art.

During World War II, the sakura was a motivation for the Japanese people. Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes before embarking on a suicide mission, and they were referred to in the names of kamikaze units. A cherry blossom painted on the sides of the bomber symbolized the beauty and ephemerality of nature. The government encouraged the people to believe that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms. Even now Japanese military and police use the cherry blossom in emblems, flags, and insignia instead of a star.

The most popular variety of sakura in Japan is the Somei Yoshino. Its flowers are nearly pure white, tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem. They bloom and usually fall or scatter within a week, before the leaves come out. Therefore, the trees look nearly white from top to bottom. This variety of sakura takes its name from the village of Somei (now part of Toshima in Tokyo). It was developed in the mid-to late-19th century at the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period. The Somei Yoshino is so widely associated with cherry blossoms that jidaigeki and other works of fiction often depict the variety in the Edo period or earlier; such depictions are anachronisms.

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Post Below: Sakura

Page Posts: 1


Ibrahim

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Hi, Just wanted to say how betiuaful your photos are, the sakura has almost faded here in Tokyo, it was so betiuaful this year and so very necessary at this time, everyone stared at it's beauty with their own thoughts about the past few weeks, hoping, praying, wishing. Hanami will probably, I hope, never be like this past one again!Take care and thank you, I received the betiuaful Iris print last week, it has pride of place atop my mantel. Such kindness has come out of such tragedy and heartache, thank you.HugsAngela
September 10, 2012
20:37:58
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