“When we first went to Ueno park to meet our friend, people were getting ready to watch the cherry blossoms festival. Thousands of people left their shoes on the street borders and sat on the mats they had laid on the lawns. The cherry trees blooms were almost ready to burst into colours, a wonder of nature among the most beautiful ones.”
Cherry trees blooming show in Japan is spectacular. Thousands of trees, all lined up along the rivers and streets or scattered around the immaculate public gardens, are blooming at the same time, between March and April, and they create terrific sceneries all over the country. Japanese people are so proud of this show that they call it hanami, cherry blossom viewing, and the cherry tree, known as Prunus serrulata, is called Sakura in Japanese.
From the south of the country to the north, gardens are set in such a way that not only sakura but also other trees and flowers, like wisterias, morning glories and irises, bloom simultaneusly so that the show that results from blooming is magnificent.
The tradition of sitting under blooming trees while drinking the popular sake (Japanese drink) with friends and relatives started long before the Edo period, as the Nihon Shoki, the Japanese Chronicle of the eight century, already describes this practice at that time. It was, however, the shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune, in our eighteenth century, that gave a special inpulse to the planting of trees all over the country, in parks, shrines and temples where people could gather with their loved ones to celebrate the beauty of nature.
In order to inspire and strengthen the Japanese national spirit, all emperors have always stimulated this amazing tradition and cherry tree is now representing one of the national flowers of Japan.
Symbolizing spring and rebirth the cherry blossoms in full bloom have been the subject theme of numerous Japanese artists who have represented them on paintings, on panel folding screens, on sliding doors, on fans, scrolls and even on the beautiful typical dresses called kimono.