Can you think of the most stunning tree you have ever seen? Are you envisioning the towering California redwoods? Many people might imagine trees adorned with red or orange leaves during the autumn season. Some individuals find beauty in trees with bare branches covered in snow during the winter. However, there are those who would argue that the most beautiful tree they have ever encountered is the cherry blossom tree.
The term Sakura refers to cherry blossom trees in Japanese. These trees are distinct from other cherry trees as they do not bear fruit. Instead, they bloom with exquisite pink or white flowers every spring. Unfortunately, the blooming period of these trees lasts only for a week or two.
Cherry blossom trees hold great significance in Japan and are often considered an iconic symbol. Some even deem the cherry blossom as Japan’s unofficial national flower. The Japanese academic year commences in April, coinciding with cherry blossom season. These flowers symbolize good fortune, love, and the arrival of spring. Due to their ephemeral beauty, cherry blossom trees also serve as a reminder of human mortality, underscoring the brevity and preciousness of life.
Every year, the Japanese meticulously track the progression of cherry trees blooming, known as the sakura zensen or cherry blossom front. The blooming gradually moves northwards with the arrival of warmer weather. It begins in Okinawa in January and reaches Kyoto and Tokyo by early April. As the cherry trees bloom in different regions, the Japanese indulge in the tradition of hanami. This entails picnicking under a blossoming cherry blossom tree and has been practiced for centuries. It is a time of festivities and celebrations in honor of the cherry blossoms.
Cherry blossom trees are not exclusive to Japan. In 1912, Japan gifted over 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the United States as a gesture of friendship. Many of these trees were planted in Washington, D.C., near the Jefferson Memorial. Others were used to create Sakura Park in New York City.
Today, these Japanese cherry blossom trees have become a popular tourist attraction. Each spring, thousands of people gather to admire the beautiful pink and white blooms during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Some even picnic under the shade of these trees. Similar to the Japanese celebration of sakura zensen, many Americans consider this festival as a special time of the year.
Have you ever had the opportunity to see a cherry blossom tree? Would you be interested in visiting the festival? It is a wonderful way to celebrate the arrival of spring! How else do you celebrate the onset of warmer weather? Take a stroll with a friend or family member and observe the unique trees in your area. Do they all have leaves, or do some of them blossom with flowers? You may be surprised by the variety of trees you can find right in your own backyard!
Try It Out
Are you ready to embrace the beauty of blossoming? Ask a friend or family member to join you in exploring the following activities:
Looking to learn how to write “cherry blossom” in Japanese? The Japanese language consists of three different alphabets, two of which are syllabic and represent sounds, while the third one, called “kanji,” uses complex pictographs to represent meaning. Although kanji may appear challenging at first, it is both captivating and aesthetically pleasing. To discover how to create the kanji for “cherry blossom,” visit the Kanji of the Week website. You will find it intriguing to learn how the kanji character “sakura” combines the elements of tree, woman, and decoration to convey its meaning.
If you wish to admire the beauty of cherry blossoms from the comfort of your home, simply go online and explore the National Geographic’s Cherry Blossoms Photos gallery. There, you will discover a wide array of stunning photographs capturing the essence of cherry blossoms in full bloom. Which picture resonates with you the most? Share your favorite image with a friend or family member and discuss what you find captivating about it.
The gift of cherry trees from Japan to the United States continues to be a remarkable gesture that brings joy year after year. If you are interested in learning about other unique gifts presented to the United States by different countries, ABC News has compiled a list of the top 7 foreign gifts. Reflect on which gift you consider the most significant and explain your reasoning in a well-supported paragraph.
For further information and sources on the wonders of cherry blossoms, you can visit the following links: