Q Why is the cherry blossom (sakura) cherished?

A There is a well-known saying by the Japanese novelist, Kajii Motojiro (190 1-32), "A dead body lies under the sakura tree" referring to the contrast between the beautiful and the eerie. The Japanese feel a special intensity particularly for the sakura.

After the end of a long winter, within a period of a week to ten days the sakura bursts into bloom and falls all at once; hence, they are compared to the manliness of a samurai abiding by bushido, or the samurai code of behavior. The sakura is also mentioned in the tanka verse, "The spirit of the Japanese can be likened to that of the wild sakura viewed in the morning sun".

There is no other tree as many in number as the sakura that ranges extensively from north to South throughout Japan and that blooms so spectacularly.

Both the plum and peach trees bloom throughout Japan even before the sakura, but the plum blooms in early spring when it is still cold. The peach blooms when it becomes a little warmer, but there are not as many peach trees as there are sakura trees. The sakura blooms when the weather is pleasant and summons the people under its large canopy laden with blossoms.

The custom of viewing the sakura was from old, an event enjoyed by the nobility that later spread to the common people. Sakura viewing under the brilliant and luxuriant blossoms after a long and dark winter has now become a not-to-be-missed event.