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Japanese Culture
Sakura, cherry blossom
Sakura or Cherry Blossom (Japanese kanji and Chinese character: 桜 or 櫻; katakana: サクラ; hiragana: さくら) - The Japanese name for ornamental cherry trees, Prunus serrulata, and their blossoms. Cherry fruit (known as sakuranbo) comes from a different species of tree. Sakura is also a given name. The word "sakura" becomes "zakura" when used in a compound word such as "shidarezakura".

Sakura is indigenous to the Himalayas, including northern India, and in east Asia such as China, Japan and Korea. Japan has a wide variety of sakura; more than 305 cultivars can be found there. Many were artificially hybridized or grafted by Japanese horticulturalists centuries ago.

Flower viewing

During the Heian Period (794–1191), the Japanese nobility sought to emulate many practices from China, including the social phenomenon of flower viewing (hanami: 花見), where the imperial households, poets, singers, and other aristocrats would gather and celebrate under the blossoms. The first recorded flower-viewing event took place at Kyoto's Shinsen-en Garden in 812. In China, the ume "plum" tree (actually a species of apricot) was held in highest regard, but by the middle of the ninth century, the sakura had replaced the plum as the favored species in Japan.

Every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the sakura zensen (cherry-blossom front) as it moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather via nightly forecasts following the weather segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. It proceeds into areas at the higher altitudes and northward, arriving in Hokkaidō a few weeks later. Japanese pay close attention to these forecasts and turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines, and temples with family and friends to hold flower-viewing parties. Hanami festivals celebrate the beauty of the sakura and for many are a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful view. The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan: the eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century CE.

Most Japanese schools and public buildings have sakura trees outside of them. Since the fiscal and school year both begin in April, in many parts of Honshū, the first day of work or school coincides with the cherry blossom season.

Information source: “Sakura.” Article date: 30 Jan. 2008. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 2 Feb. 2008 <Sakura>.

Video - The following is all about sakura. The first video is a JR commercial. The second video is a song about Sakura by the famous Kobukuro.





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