Spring time is the most popular time to visit in Japan! Among the most popular reasons to visit Japan in the spring, and perhaps the most famous signature of spring are the sakura (Cherry Blossom Trees). Sakura in Japan have a deep and long history, romanticized by the Samurai, they are often viewed as an allegory of life—beautiful, yet ephemeral. Every year, people come from all over the world just to see this wonderful sight, but what makes it so special?
Fun fact: Did you know that sakura trees do not all produce cherries? Rather, the cherry blossom tree is actually just part of the cherry tree family.
Before the Sakura was made so symbolic of Japanese culture, the Ume (Plum) tree was rather popular. In a much more ancient tradition of Hanami (Flower gazing), the plum tree was often the highlight of spring time. Featured throughout centuries of paintings, poems, and stories, the Sakura has made an undoubtedly deep impact in the Japanese culture, and remains a symbol of the country.
Japan has made its mark around the world however, as hanami is practiced in other countries with sakura; it is practiced all throughout the world. In fact, just by our office, there are sakura at the park just around the corner, and the local college even celebrates the sakura with poetry created by students! Brooklyn in New York celebrates the Annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival in May yearly. Traditionally, people gather with friends, family, and coworkers to watch the Sakura over a picnic with food and drinks, such as dango and sake.
Sakura are so important to Japan, that the Japan Meteorological Agency reports a Cherry Blossom Forecast, in order to determine when the sakura will bloom. These forecasts are due to the ephemeral nature of the sakura, as the flower petals will often fall within a week; with such a time-sensitive window, it’s important that you make sure you get the Sakura Forecast before you book your trip to Japan!