Spring is finally here! Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year, and also signifies the blooming of the cherry trees! Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a symbol of the spring time in Japanese culture. Cherry blossoms symbolize renewal and a fresh start. The Japanese fiscal and school year begins in April, the season of sakura, to celebrate and welcome a brand-new start.
On Japan's southern, subtropical islands of Okinawa, cherry blossoms open as early as January, while on the northern island of Hokkaido, the flowering can be as late as May. In most major cities in between, such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the cherry blossom season typically takes place in early April.
During this season in Japan, people like to have cherry blossom parties with colleagues, friends, and family. A cherry blossom makes people merry. They enjoy eating, drinking, and barbecuing underneath the cherry blossoms. This custom is called hanami. Hanami literally means “watching blossoms,” and the tradition can be traced back at least a thousand years. People will bring cooked meals, alcohol, snacks, and sweets, like a potluck party. Schools and offices hold welcome parties during hanami, a chance for people to bond and meet new friends.
Even at night time, the cherry blossom viewing spots are crowded with couples enjoying the blossoms in a romantic atmosphere. Hanami at night is called yozakura.
Cherry trees have spread throughout the world to other Asian country, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Turkey, Spain British, Australia, and beyond. We’re lucky to have thousands of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.