If you were to visit Japan during spring you are sure to experience one of the most exceptional displays of natural beauty that will leave you captivated for a lifetime. The cultural significance of Japan’s Cherry Blossom, also known as the Sakura Matsuri, or Hanami (flower viewing festival), is a Japanese custom of enjoying the blooming of cherry blossoms.
The festival heralds the onset of spring, a symbol of hope and renewal, where the flowers will leave you spellbound with their colours and fragrances. The flower viewing festival is said to have originated in the Nara period in the 8th century. A typical Hanami festival usually consists of people partying outdoors under the cherry blossom trees. During the night, people also make paper lanterns and hang them near the trees where they bring food and drinks to enjoy with family and friends.
There is a cultural significance to the cherry blossom trees in Japan, which represents the fragility and beauty of life. The cherry blossom only blooms during the spring for a short time and at the peak of their beauty, the blossoms will start to fall, serving as a stark reminder that although life is beautiful in all its aspects it is also ephemeral and short.
There are many places in Japan where you can see the trees blooming and among them is the Kinkaku-Ji temple in Kyoto, the Imperial palace in Tokyo, and the Nara Park in the Nara prefecture that offers a view that is truly a sight to behold. For the more adventurous, you can venture out into the countryside to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji and its surroundings during this season as it is a sight you shouldn’t miss.
The cherry blossoms are known to bloom throughout the country, but a few places like the town of Hirosaki in the Aomori Prefecture of Japan, which holds the Sakura-matsuri festival, is quite famous for its bountiful cherry blossoms that draws people from all parts of the nation.
Japan is home to more than 200 different kinds of cherry blossom, with the most popular one being the ‘Somei Yoshino’, which is named after the village of Somei in Tokyo. It has white flowers with a hint of pink, which forms a beautiful canopy that lasts no more than a week.
Cherry blossoms are also used to make a popular beverage in Japan called the ‘Sakurayu’ or Sakura tea, which are pickled blossoms that are immersed and served in hot water. They are traditionally served at weddings since the tea is clear without any turbid fluid, which is said to symbolise a healthy marriage.
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