The symbolic meaning of the Sakura or cherry blossom can be traced back centuries to the core values of the Japanese culture, simplicity and purity. It is also closely tied to Buddhist teachings; reminding us to treasure each moment in life as they are as fleeting as the life of the delicate cherry blossom.
When in bloom, Japan celebrates as a nation. The media provides regular updates on the “Sakura Zansen” the cherry blossom front to allow the nation to prepare for “Hanami” the viewing parties which fill the squares with dance, food and music when the blossoms peak.
Cherry blossom trees first came to America in 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo donated 3,000 trees to Washington, D.C. as a gesture of friendship. Today, they line the tidal basin and are enjoyed by thousands of people each year. In 1926, Japan also donated cherry blossom trees to Philadelphia to commemorate the 150th anniversary of our freedom.
Stretching across centuries when the ancient Samurai proudly wore the Sakura blossom on their uniforms, often reflecting their own brief service and life, to the enduring symbol in Japan’s modern culture, the cherry blossom is seen as a time of new beginnings. Schools open for new sessions, employees start new jobs and many couples wed. The Sakura blossom can be found in business names and logos, home décor such as shoji screens, tea sets and kimonos and is also present on the 1,000 yen bank note.