One of the most awaited signs of spring in Japan are the magnificent pink Japanese cherry trees, also called sakura. Starting in mid-March, the Internet is flooded with beautiful photos of all shades of pink, blooming in parks and streets of different cities of Japan. The earliest city to blossom is Tokyo – this year its sakura trees are expected to be in super bloom by the end of March. Depending on a city, Japanese cherry trees may bloom even through May.

As the official Japanese school year starts in April, the first day back at school or work after the holidays usually coincides with the blooming of the cherry trees. You will always see many locals picnicking under the sakura every season – the tradition is called hanami, , and dates back to the 8th century!

Because the cherries blossom in bunches of flowers, they are symbolically associated with clouds and stand for ephemeral nature of life in Japanese culture, Buddhism highly influences that. These beautiful trees are often featured in Japanese art, movies, anime, and manga. Curiously, the delicate cherry trees were once even used as part of the propaganda in order to inspire the “Japanese spirit” before the wake of World War II.

Even though the cherry blossom is the unofficial national flower of Japan, today they have spread to many other countries as well, mostly due to the Japanese diaspora. The blooming of the sakura is definitely one of the most beautiful views every spring, wherever you find them!

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