Most of us who are interested in Japanese culture would have known about Cherry Blossoms or Sakura in one way or another. Although Japan has never named a National Flower, most people would say that it is the Sakura for it has often been used in Japanese legends as well as in some aspects of Japanese culture today.
Sakura, has often been misconceptualized as a flower often unique to Japan. Actually it is indigenous to many Asian states including Japan, Korea, China and India. Japan has a wide variety of cherry blossoms.
Sakura in Himeji Castle
The practice of flower viewing (hanami) started during the Heian Period when the Japanese wanted to emulate different practices from China. Cherry trees during that time were planted and cultivated for their beauty, and plum trees were held in the highest regard, but by the ninth century, the cherry blossom had replaced the plum as the favorite species of Japan.
Sakura tree in bloom
In Japan, cherry blossoms symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse. Also, the transition of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality, because of this, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic and have often been utilized in Japanese art, manga, anime, film as well as musical performances.