10 interesting facts about cherry blossom
The cherry blossom season is a highlight of the Japanese calendar, and people from all over the country come together to celebrate the fall of these stunning pink petals. Here we take a look at the top 10 facts about cherry blossom, from how to celebrate it to how to eat it
The cherry blossom – sakura – is the unofficial national flower of Japan and an image of the flower appears on the Japanese 100 yen coin.
The Japanese celebrate the blooming of the cherry blossom as a symbol of the fleeting beauty of life itself. It also marks the start of new beginnings and many schools in Japan start their new school year around this time.
Hanami literally means flower viewing, and the enjoyment of flowers is a Japanese custom. To celebrate the arrival of the cherry blossom, many Japanese families enjoy picnics together under the trees, and parties held to celebrate the parties at night are called yozakura.
In modern times it has become popular to hold fashion shoots for blogs and social media under the cherry blossom, as the flowers look particularly pretty in photographs.
Western brands, including Starbucks and McDonalds, join in with the cherry blossom festivities in Japan, releasing limited-edition sakura products such as cherry-flavoured drinks and pink burger buns.
There are over 200 varieties of cherry blossom in Japan and one of the most common is Somei Yoshino. Interestingly, this species is primarily white with only a very faint hint of pink.
Sakura can be enjoyed as mochi, a sweet Japanese rice cake filled with red bean curd and stained pink. A sakura leaf is wrapped around the dessert as a dainty finishing touch.
Sakura blossoms can also be pickled and put in hot water to create a cherry blossom tea drink called sakurayu. It’s often drunk at weddings instead of green tea.
The oldest sakura tree in Japan is believed to be over 2,000 years old and can be found within the grounds at the Jissou Temple in Yamanashi.
The Japanese word hazakura describes a cherry tree whose blossoms have fallen, revealing the new young leaves.