One of the more enduring images of Japan are the beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom every spring. They’ve become so popular that news broadcasts in Japan even feature maps that show when the blooming season will occur. These maps depict blooming blossoms as though they were a moving weather front. While they might wreak havoc on those with allergies, few people would give up the opportunity to view these lovely trees.

The word hanami refers to the practice of pensively viewing cherry blossoms. It’s gone on for centuries, and some people actually elect to have complicated picnics underneath the trees when they are in full bloom. At one point only aristocrats ever got to enjoy the practice, but things are much different today.

Japanese Cherry Blossoms on a Frosty Day

Japanese Cherry Blossoms on a Frosty Day

Those who loved to watch plum tress blossom started the practice of hanami. Interestingly enough, viewing ume trees is coming back into vogue among some senior citizens. Since hanami is now associated with loud music and parties, those who want to enjoy a more serious traditional experience often elect to check out plum trees instead.

A large number of schools and public buildings have cherry blossom trees growing out front. Many accounting methods show the fiscal year as starting in April. Many Honshu residents mark the first day of work as coinciding with the blooming of cherry blossoms. This might help to lessen the sting those coming off comfortable vacations experience.

Cherry blossoms are far more than mere aesthetic symbols, however. They represent clouds, due to the fact that they bloom en masse. They are a sort of metaphor for the impermanent state of the human condition. This has allowed them to be appropriated by many Buddhist scholars for such lessons. Indeed, many writers have used them as a symbol to illustrate how short our time is here on earth.

Life is beautiful, but it’s also fleeting. People don’t have very long so they need to live life to its fullest. That is often the message that people take away from viewing cherry blossom trees.

Irezumi tattoos often feature sakura blossoms alongside koi fish and tigers. Contemporary artists have used them as symbols in manga and filmmaking. Sakura Sakura is still one of the most important pieces for those learning to play the koto. Even though they might the reason that urban dwellers have to wear masks during their blooming season, cherry blossom trees are actually loved by so many people.