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I want to see the Cherry Blossom Festival

Updated on January 23, 2015

The Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival

A popular Rite of Spring for the Japanese people is the traditional Hanami celebration or cherry blossom party. It involves sitting under a blooming cherry tree.

The cherry tree, sakura, is native to Japan, and every time I look at the tiny cherry blossom in my garden I long to see the real thing in its country of origin, in Spring, at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Every year the Japanese people track the sakura zensen, the cherry blossom front, as it moves northward. One year I will follow it myself.

The Meaning of the Cherry Blossom

The cherry blossoms are not just beautiful, they have a deep significance.

Cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, and herald in a time of awakening and promise after a cold, gray winter of introspection. Dark dormant trees erupt with colour and life. In a few short days, showers of delicate pink and white petals give way to new leaves.

The beauty of the blossoms lasts a brief time only, a metaphor of the beauty, mystery, and ephemeral quality of life.

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Gorgeous Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom and Popular Culture

The Cherry Blossom is an established element in Japanese culture

The cherry blossoms resemble clouds and the fallen blossoms can be likened to snow - images that traditionally captivate Japanese artistic sensibilities. The flower's brief and fragile blooming time lends itself to contemplation of the mysteries around us, of the mystery of life itself. The Cherry Blossom is a reminder to not become too attached to a particular outcome, all will pass.

The fallen Cherry Blossom, drifting onto the snow, is a common theme in Japanese literature and often represents the life of a warrior ended in battle.

The Goddess of Mount Fuji is Konohanasakuyahime, "The Goddess who can revive dead flowers", She decorates her mountain with Cherry Blossom every Spring.

Cherry-tree of the Sixteenth Day
Cherry-tree of the Sixteenth Day

Cherry Tree of the Sixteenth Day

From Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan, 1904

In Wakegori, a district of the province of Iyo , there is a very ancient and famous cherry-tree, called Jiu-roku-zakura, or "the Cherry-tree of the Sixteenth Day," because it blooms every year upon the sixteenth day of the first month (by the old lunar calendar),-- and only upon that day. Thus the time of its flowering is the Period of Great Cold,-- though the natural habit of a cherry-tree is to wait for the spring season before venturing to blossom. But the Jiu-roku-zakura blossoms with a life that is not -- or, at least, that was not originally -- its own. There is the ghost of a man in that tree.


The Story of the Ghost in the Tree

There was a samurai of Iyo; and the tree grew in his garden; and it used to flower at the usual time,-- that is to say, about the end of March or the beginning of April. He had played under that tree when he was a child; and his parents and grandparents and ancestors had hung to its blossoming branches, season after season for more than a hundred years, bright strips of colored paper inscribed with poems of praise.

He himself became very old,-- outliving all his children; and there was nothing in the world left for him to live except that tree.

And lo! in the summer of a certain year, the tree withered and died!

Exceedingly the old man sorrowed for his tree. Then kind neighbors found for him a young and beautiful cherry-tree, and planted it in his garden,-- hoping thus to comfort him. And he thanked them, and pretended to be glad. But really his heart was full of pain; for he had loved the old tree so well that nothing could have consoled him for the loss of it.

Migawari ni tatsu

At last there came to him a happy thought: he remembered a way by which the perishing tree might be saved. (It was the sixteenth day of the first month.) Along he went into his garden, and bowed down before the withered tree, and spoke to it, saying: "Now deign, I beseech you, once more to bloom,-- because I am going to die in your stead." (For it is believed that one can really give away one's life to another person, or to a creature or even to a tree, by the favor of the gods;-- and thus to transfer one's life is expressed by the term migawari ni tatsu, "to act as a substitute.") Then under that tree he spread a white cloth, and divers coverings, and sat down upon the coverings, and performed hara-kiri after the fashion of a samurai.

And the ghost of him went into the tree, and made it blossom in that same hour.

And every year it still blooms on the sixteenth day of the first month, in the season of snow.

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo, 2008

The Bullet Train Pass

I bought this guide, it looked essential to me.

I'd heard about the Japanese rail system and the book explains how to travel around the country on a tight budget, using the Japan Rail Pass. The cost of the pass is less than a single train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. An amazing bargain! Lots of detail about getting hold of the Pass before you leave home.

It includes timetables and information about places along the way,

Enjoying the Cherry Blossom Festival - Sakura Matsuri,

Sakura Matsuri.
Sakura Matsuri.

Sakura Matsuri

The blooming of the cherry trees is celebrated with a festival, the Sakura Matsuri.

Some places have over 250,000 people in one day! I want to be one of them, just once.

Hanami, Cherry Blossom Viewing

Hanami, the Cherry Blossom Viewing, has been a Japanese custom since the 7th century when the aristocrats enjoyed looking at beautiful sakura and wrote poems.

You don't have to be an aristocrat these days, or to write poetry.

You don't even have to be Japanese.

What do you think of the Cherry Blossom Festival?

Would you travel to Japan to see the Cherry Blossom?

See results

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

Shower some Blossoms in my GuestBook

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    • profile image

      Helene-Malmsio 5 years ago

      my whole street is lined with cherry plum trees, and believe me, in spring the whole road looks like a huge cherry blossom festival, it is stunning! And earlier on we have the wattle flower festival which is amazing too!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 6 years ago

      So beautiful! Japan has long been on my list of dream destinations. Now, with my son hurtling toward his 18th birthday, some serious travel may be just around the corner!

    • profile image

      Lindrus 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens! And great advertising for Japan! Really makes me want to go to Japan around cherry blossom time.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 7 years ago from Scotland

      I too have a little cherry blossom in my garden and I just love it! , it would indeed be wonderful to see this festival

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

      Had the chance to do some ohanami at Ueno Park in Tokyo a couple of years ago - it really is quite a magical experience! Beautifully done lens ~blessed~

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Somehow I didn't know about this cherry blossom festival in Japan. Sounds wonderful

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      I am lucky as I already got to see it! And it is just as breathtaking as you can imagine. It is amazing to see all those cherry blossoms, and the air smells nice too. Beautiful lens.

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      tssfacts 7 years ago

      Beautiful lens Susanna well deserving of the purple star. I have seen many pictures but never seen the blossoms in person. I do enjoy eating cherries too.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Love the look of the cherry blossoms.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Let's go Susanna! ~ Yes I would love to go to Japan for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

      Congratulations on the PSA! ~ Beautiful lens!

    • profile image

      aishu19 7 years ago

      I love Cherry blossom wherever they are and I am sure those in Japan are absolutely stunning as well. Congratulations on the purple start

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 7 years ago

      Your photos are beautiful. I would love to go to Japan for the cherry blossoms.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

      Beautiful...I love when the Chrerry Trees start blooming and have always wanted to go to Washington DC for their Cherry Festival...never thought of going to Japan. Loved the story and Blessing this lens :)

    • redroses lm profile image

      Jenny Campbell 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I forgot about cherry blossoms in Japan. Would be worth seeing.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Love this lens Susanna and I love Cherry Blossom Festivals! Wish we could all go to Japan for one!

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