Each flower in the world has a specific meaning behind their colors and shape. Some can give a bouquet to a person with different types of flowers to show them how they truly feel. Some flowers symbolize love, forgiveness, gratitude and the like. But I’m not here to talk about different flower types and their hidden meanings since this article would be longer than the usual. Instead, we’ll be focusing on a popular flower in Japan, the cherry blossom.
What are Cherry Blossoms?
Cherry blossoms, also known as the Japanese cherry or sakura (桜), is a symbol of spring or a time of renewal in the country. These types of flowers signify the fleeting nature of life because of how short-lived their time of blooming is. They have an appearance of a tiny, pink flower that grows in cherry trees. Despite only lasting for no more than two weeks, the sakura is able to take the breath away of the locals and tourists that visit during the months of March and April, which you may know is when the spring season starts. They are flowers that are native in Asia, so you don’t only see them in Japan. You can find them in countries like South Korea, China and India.
The Meaning Behind Them
Just like other types of flowers, cherry blossoms have different meanings behind them depending on the country a person resides in. In China, these flowers symbolize lover and the female mystique of sexuality, strength and beauty. They are more cherished in Japan, however, since they can be seen in almost every aspect of their culture. From films, animes, poetry and even paintings. As I’ve mentioned above, they symbolize the fragility of life. They are tied to the Buddhist themes of mindfulness, mortality and living in the present. They are a timeless metaphor for the existence of humans because of how long they stay for during spring.
These flowers are personified by the samurai, which are known to be the feudal warriors of Japan who lived by the bushido, or “the way of the warrior” in English. This is a strict moral code of respect, honor and discipline. It was their duty to preserve these virtues in their lives and accept the inevitability of death without fearing it. During battle, it was all moving too fast for a samurai. Similar to how a samurai falls during a battle too soon, the cherry blossom that falls on the ground and withers is a symbol of the end of their short lives. However, sakura is no longer seen as a flower that signifies the military. Today, they are mostly used for philosophical and aesthetic reasons.
Another symbolization of this flower is rebirth. They are believed to represent the mountain deities that transformed into the gods of rice paddies in Japanese folk religions. Cherry blossoms signify agricultural reproduction. During these times, people would travel the mountains in order to worship the trees every spring. This is why the sakura is seen as the first sign of spring.
This isn’t just simple activity in Japan, it’s a national pastime that holds a lot of meaning in both culture and religion. When the people gather around under the cherry blossom trees during April, they are not just admiring the aesthetic attributes of the flower. In fact, they are seizing the day with tables that have sake-filled glasses, bento boxes and mochi. They’re taking in the beauty of life and wringing it out. They’re dedicating the day to the loss of their loved ones and reflecting on their own lives with wonder. During this moment do they realize that in a way, they are sakura.
Looking into it a bit more, cherry blossoms really are wonderful flowers, aren’t they? I love how different they are with how they can make people think about themselves, and how they are able to show just how short a person’s life can be. They can symbolize so many things connected to life, and to me, that’s what makes them a very special flower.