日本の月 ”Nihon no tsuki” 4 – Hanami 2009!

Flower viewing – or hanami in Japanese, dates back to the Heian period (794-1191). It was the aristocrats together with the imperial family that began celebrating the bloom of sakura (sakura matsuri).  There are well over 200 varieties of sakura trees in Japan but most of which do not bear fruit. Excessive cross-breeding have rendered them infertile, in exchange for more petals. The resulting trees are mass-blooming every spring. From mid-Mars to the end of April, Japanese weather forecasts report the zensen – or sakura front which starts in the south, moving northward as the weather gets warmer. Since both the Japanese school year (and fiscal year) begins in April, the first day of school often coincides with the sakura blossoms.

Nowadays, many people bring food and sit and chat in parks, watching the sakura – the Japanese’s favorite flower. The tradition is many centuries old and there are many symbolic meanings associated with the cherry blossoms. They are often said to describe the ephemerality of life – and of mortality, since they bloom only a few days with some species just lasting a week. In modern times, the cherry blossoms symbolized something more foul. For example, sakura trees were planted during the Korean occupation in the beginning of the 1900’s to claim territories as Japanese. The trees were cut down in 1953 in celebration of the liberation of the Korean peninsula.

Watch these pictures taken in Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden), Stockholm and be aware that summer is just around the corner!
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I don’t think these ones are sterile…

If you happen to be in Japan, or just curious, read about famous Japanese hanami spots here:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011_where.html

Previous post in Nihon no tsuki series.

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