Spring is Here!
Cherry blossoms are one of the first signs of spring. The days have gotten longer, the weather is warmer, soft rains fall gently, and the trees start to blossom; there is nothing quite as beautiful as a cherry tree in bloom.
Stems and branches of cherry blossoms (real and artificial) make beautiful home décor and, of course, are wonderful gifts as well.
Japanese Cherry Blossoms/Symbolism
There are many different types of cherry trees and each has its own individual blossoms. Of course, cherry blossoms (known as “sakura”) are an indelible part of Japanese culture. Because they bloom briefly in the spring, they are equated with ephemeral, fleeting beauty. The fallen cherry blossom is also a representation of the fallen samurai soldier whose life was cut short (this was especially relevant during WWII). Today, the cherry blossoms have happier connotations. There is a tradition of honoring and enjoying the cherry blossoms each April; this ceremony (known as the Cherry Blossom Festival) is also called “Hanami.”
There are many types of cherry trees, but one of the most undeniably beautiful is the Kwanzan.
- The Kwanzan Cherry Tree is almost infectious in its stellar beauty; the clumps of blossoms are pink rather than white and look almost like giant scoops of strawberry ice cream. This is the most ostentatious of the blossoming cherry trees. When the petals begin to fall, a swift breeze can cause the petals to swirl around in a storm of pink confetti. One of spring’s most beautiful sights!
- Other types of cherry trees include the Weeping, Fugenzo, Okame, and Akebono.
Cherry Blossoms in Art and Literature
- Anton Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard (1903) is a study in realism and socioeconomics with the actual cherry orchard representing the past. It is a rude awakening when the cherry trees are cut down. The sublime beauty of Chekhov’s writing is what haunts us as readers, while the characters in the play are haunted by ghosts of the past (one of whom is seen walking amidst the white blossoms).
- Hiroshi Yoshida’s “Kumoi Sakura,” 1926 is a beautiful depiction of what lurks in most of our imaginations when we think of Japanese culture and cherry blossoms: demure women in colorful kimonos posing beneath a weeping cherry tree covered in pale pink flowers.
- Vincent van Gogh painted a series of “Flowering Orchard” works during the spring of 1888 while in Arles, Southern France.
- According to Japan Objects, “Lake Kawaguchi” is a must-see Japanese masterpiece.
Where to See the Most Glorious Cherry Blossoms in the United States
- The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. (March 12th – April 20th)
- Sakura Matsuri 2020 (April 25th and 26th) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- The Cherry Collection at the Bronx Botanic Gardens
- The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park
For more information on cherry blossoms, where to find them in art, their connotations, Japanese symbolism, and sightseeing destinations, consult the websites mentioned in this blog:
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