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Sakura Matsuri - The Cherry Blossom Festival
Sakura Matsuri - The Cherry Blossom Festival
The Most Beautiful Time of the Year in Japan

In the international audience, one of the many things that are reminiscent of Japanese culture is the cherry blossom tree. The cherry blossom or "sakura" is distinguishable by its bright pink leaves; the timing of this effect varies throughout Japan's various climate regions.Although the sakura tree can be found in other parts of the world, especially mainland Asian countries, it is the association with Japanese philosophy that makes this relationship unique.

What is the Japanese Philosophy of Beauty?
The Japanese have a term called "mono no aware". This can be translated as "the beauty of things". When applied to the cherry blossom tree, it refers to the momentary beauty of the pink leaves. The sakura may bloom quickly and beautifully, but it will leave just as soon as it arrived. The realization of this resulting in a bittersweet farewell. Thus, the term "mono no aware" and the blooming sakura are meant to invoke a state of pensiveness and contemplation along with an appreciation for the physical world.

Cherry Blossom Symbols Throughout Japan
The sakura is featured symbolically throughout Japanese culture; both modern and pop. The manga, One Piece by Eiichiro Oda (family name, surname) has a character whose starring story arc was focused on the cherry blossom and mono no aware. Many songs allude to the sakura either in the title or in the lyrics. It is even on the back of the 100 yen coin.

The most well known example though, is the cherry blossom festival, aka the sakura matsuri. Because the blooming of the tree varies from region to region, so do the celebrations. The festivals are usually hosted by local shrines and include food, games, lanterns and of course, the sakura themselves. Because the Japanese government sends sakura trees to friendly foreign nations as a token of good will, festivals are also held in areas with established gardens.

The sakura tree and the fruit bearing cherry tree (the fruit being called sakuranbo in Japanese) are not to be confused. They are different species of tree, similar to wolves and coyotes being different species of dog.

The Cherry Blossom Festival
Every year around March, when the Cherry blossoms are blooming, people all over the world but more specifically across Japan gather to view these majestic trees come to bloom and shed their unique pedals. Typically couples are found walking pathways filled with Cherry Blossoms while the pedals fall with every passing breeze.

During this time there are festivals throughout Japan, generally at different times considering Japan is a nation that spans from cold harsh winters to the tropics, seasons change differently for each region. These festivals are filled with people wearing traditional and modernized traditional clothing as well as common clothes. There is usually music, Taiko (Japanese drums), food and merchandise stalls, religious parades (but not always), and many other activities to be found at these festivals.

Cherry Blossom Festivals Around the World
While Japan does have incredible celebrations that can be caught almost every weekend for a whole month (or more!), such festivities have been known to extend to locations outside of Japan including some major cities across the United States, Canada, and more recently, Europe.

Growing your Own Cherry Blossom Tree
If cherry blossom trees are genuinely something you wish to grow in your yard, there are many varieties that can grow in different climates which can usually be found at your local botanical garden or flea market. They require regular care and daily maintenance for the first year, be prepared to water your tree a lot.

Cherry blossoms and Jappleng
You will find that we use cherry blossoms throughout our website and we hope you can appreciate the beauty a little bit more after reading this article. Thank you for reading and if you are interested in learning more about Japan, we have many more cultural and language based lessons freely obtainable around our website.
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