Cherry blossoms tree at Daito Pagoda

Admire The Transient Beauty of Sakura

Tiếng Việt

Pure and elegant, sakura (or cherry blossoms) has long been an unseparated part of Japanese culture. The flowers symbolise the arrival of spring, marking the time for renewals after a winter sleep. Yet this beauty is short-lived. After their peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to wither, leaving a carpet of pink blush…


Sakura (さくら) is the generic term for hundreds of types of Japanese cherry trees and their blossoms. The flowers usually bloom in April when the weather gets warmer. But in the southern regions, blossoming can begin as early as late March. As warm weather progresses northward, the blooms reach Tokyo and Kyoto areas around early April before moving on to Hokkaido in early May. Depends on the varieties of cherry trees, the flowers boast different colours, ranging from pink-red, pale pink to pure white.

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Sakura in Japanese Culture

Like Mount Fuji, sakura holds significant meanings in Japanese culture. Its sublime beauty has mesmerised people from all walks of life for centuries. From citizens, samurais to emperors, they all cherished the spectacular sight of cherry trees in bloom. These Asian flowers also inspired poets and artists who immortalised the blossoms in numerous masterpieces. Though there are many ways in which sakura is interpreted, most of which sing about its transient beauty. Since the flower is very fragile, a spring rain or even a mild breeze can make the petals scatter.

The brief life of the cherry blossoms reminds us of the ephemeral nature of life and of our mortality. In one instance, it’s full of life, blink twice and it could all be gone. Life is overwhelmingly beautiful but tragically short. That’s why every moment is precious and we should make the most of whatever time we have.

Fallen sakura floating on water
Scattered sakura petals in Koyasan
Transient beauty of sakura
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Some Facts about Cherry Blossoms

  • Though being called “cherry blossom tree”, sakura doesn’t produce edible fruits. It’s an ornamental tree and belongs to the rose family, rosacea.
  • 600 varieties of sakura can be found worldwide. Alone in Japan, there are more than 200 types.
  • Despite its popularity, sakura has never been officially recognised as Japan’s national flower. In fact, the country doesn’t have one. Sakura shares the role de facto national flowers with the chrysanthemum as it’s the symbol of the Japanese royal family and government.
  • The name sakura is associated with the deity Konohanasakuya-hime (also known as Sakuya-hime), literally translated as the “cherry blossom blooming princess”. She is the symbol of delicate earthly life. Legend said that each spring Sakuya-hime hovers low in the sky, waking the cherry trees up with her delicate breath.
  • In the past, a fallen cherry blossom represented the sacrifice of a samurai. People believed that these flowers are the souls of the young warriors who lost their lives for the country. Admirable yet so short-lived.
  • Jiu-roku-zakura (the Cherry tree of the Sixteenth day) is another story highlighting this sacrifice. It tells the relationship between a brave honourable samurai and a cherry tree grew on his lands for over a hundred years. When the tree started dying, the samurai (now became old) decided to transfer his life essence to save the tree on the 16th day of the month. Within one hour of the samurai’s sacrifice ritual, the tree began to blossom and continues to live even today. The cherry tree, therefore, harbours many spiritual meanings in the minds of many Japanese.
Cherry blossoms in full bloom. A magnificent scene
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30 thoughts on “Admire The Transient Beauty of Sakura”

  1. Not only are these photos beautiful, you wrote a really insightful post! Love it! I enjoyed reading it on the subway

  2. Forestwood – A philosophic Australian writes here, one who admits to loving Scandinavia. I'm interested in global politics, but scratch the surface and you'll find I am a practical Environmentalist with an Egalitarian bent trying to unleash a little creativity. Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. Travel broadens the mind, so I travel whenever I can. I am an avid reader, I enjoy photography, writing and a variety of crafts, particularly traditional art forms. You are always welcome to stop by at S.t.P.A.
    Forestwood says:

    Stunning aren’t they? So transient. I would love to visit Japan when they are in season, but it is too short and I may miss it altogether. I had no idea that there were so many species. Thanks for sharing. That tree in Koyasan is spectacular.

    1. It’s surreal! When seeing that tree, I thought I was dreaming 🙂 I think travelling from South to North is an option to increase the chance of seeing the cherry blossoms. In this way, you can always see the trees in bloom. Even if you miss the bloom in one city, for example Osaka, you can try your luck at destinations like Koyasan. Due to its altitude and cool climate, the bloom might be delayed for several days.

      1. Forestwood – A philosophic Australian writes here, one who admits to loving Scandinavia. I'm interested in global politics, but scratch the surface and you'll find I am a practical Environmentalist with an Egalitarian bent trying to unleash a little creativity. Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. Travel broadens the mind, so I travel whenever I can. I am an avid reader, I enjoy photography, writing and a variety of crafts, particularly traditional art forms. You are always welcome to stop by at S.t.P.A.
        Forestwood says:

        Good advice Ken. This is what I did in the crimson leaves season and saw a lot more this way.

  3. Táo Jo – Xin chào! Đây là Táo, một cô gái, thích nhạc rock, ham chơi, và hơi ngại lớn ^^
    Táo Jo says:

    Ảnh của cậu đẹp thật. Tớ không thích hoa mà cũng thấy rung động nữa

    1. Thanks bạn! Mình cũng may mắn là gặp thời tiết đẹp. Chứ mưa một trận là hoa đi đường hoa, cây đi đường cây ngay 🙂

      1. Táo Jo – Xin chào! Đây là Táo, một cô gái, thích nhạc rock, ham chơi, và hơi ngại lớn ^^
        Táo Jo says:

        Ừ, nhưng mưa nhẹ mà gió bay bay thì cũng đẹp nhỉ (đấy là tưởng tượng vậy)

  4. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    My first time seeing sakura was actually in Seoul which was about a year ago. I was lucky that despite the unseasonably cold weather, the flower bloomed in earnest when I was there. I should plan a trip to Japan around this time of the year one day in the future to see those flowers in the land where they hold such a great cultural significance. Thanks for the insights!

  5. Sartenada – Hi. In my photo blog, I have big selection of photos from Finland; from the South to the North, from the East to the West. My blog deals all subjects of life including travelling, hobbies, customs, habits, oddities, towns, traditions, road trips, winter, snow, garden, biking, reindeers, handicrafts, lake cruses, DIY with instructions, sauna etc. Every post has a theme. Northern parts of Finland are near to my heart, which means much information about those areas. Blog in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese. Welcome / Bienvenido / Bienvenu / Bem vinda
    Sartenada says:

    Absolutely gorgeous post. I love Your photos, but also inside information on Your post. In Helsinki, we have to wait until to May, when we have Hanami. It is not so beautiful, than in Your post, but it is popular in Finland.

    Hanami in Helsinki

    Have a wonderful day!

  6. T Ibara Photo – つくば市在住カメラウーマン。働きながら写真撮影・技術向上に励んでいます。最近、カイツブリ・カワセミ撮影にはまっています。 Photographer based in beautiful Tsukuba, Japan - Working a full-time job while enjoying photography. (I am in love with little grebes and beautiful kingfisher birds) http://tibaraphoto.wordpress.com/
    T Ibara Photo says:

    Thank you for showing beautiful views of my country. I enjoy your photography and writing very much 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing this. Your post only served to make us want to visit Japan more; although we’ll have to wait until next year to catch the cherry blossoms.

    1. Thank you! In term of weather, spring is also the best time to visit Japan. The only thing that you need to take into consideration is the crowd 😉

  8. These blossoms remind me of the blossoms in the National Cemetery in Seoul. Beautifully captured. Never visited Japan during Sakura. Looks gorgeous! 🙂

    1. Oh that’s new to me! I have seen cherry blossoms in gardens, in palaces, on the streets. But I have never heard about planting cherry blossoms in a cemetery. Did you write a post about it?

      But… it somehow makes sense. Each cherry blossom represents a life. And when it falls, a life is lost. So it’s quite fit for the cemetery 🙂

      1. Yep! I wrote a combined post last year. I went crazy trying to catch cherry blossoms all across Seoul. 🙂

      2. Thank you, Len! I hope you visit these hidden gems in Korea! It’s often not very easy to travel around and that’s why I try to write as much information as possible. 🙂

  9. Leya – Sweden – Love my family, photography, art, literature, architecture, flowers, trees and dogs, but most of all Nature itself. I also keep on travelling...
    Leya says:

    A very insightful and informative post, Len – and beautiful photography of these delicate flowerings! I also love the old myths about the trees – the Japanese are experts in beauty. I have always dreamed of visiting Japan in Spring – but haven’t got there yet.. My whole family has been to Japan, and some several times. Now my heart beats even more to go! Thank you for participating today.

      1. Leya – Sweden – Love my family, photography, art, literature, architecture, flowers, trees and dogs, but most of all Nature itself. I also keep on travelling...
        Leya says:

        😀

  10. Antonia – Hi, I'm Antonia! I'm 21 years old, from the United Kingdom. I'm passionate about Beauty, Hair, Lifestyle and Health. Since the age of 5 I used to go into stores (accompanied of course) and see the magazines that came with 'free eyeshadow and blusher' and would literally have a tantrum if I didn't get it. Spoilt and annoying I know. I've been diagnosed with many different health issues so I'd like to share my past and future experiences to hopefully help others who might be going though the same and what's worked for me. My blog is to share tips, reviews, opinions, and experiences about all the above but also to use this space as a judgement free zone where we can speak about anything! I'm quite a girly girl so I love to play with makeup but trust me I also love just as much to chill at home in an oversized T-shirt and just watch Documentaries, Movies and funnily enough News! Come on the journey with me to have endless honest girly chats!
    antonia_ says:

    Wow beautiful photos!

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