What is the cherry blossom festival?

The Japanese call it ‘Sakura Matsuri’ It is a festival held in spring every year all over Japan and also in a number of other countries. It celebrates the blooming of the cherry trees and is a time for locals to have a picnic or hanami and enjoy the pleasant weather outdoors. There are blossom-viewing parties held both in the cities and the countryside.

The tree that is so revered is the Yoshino cherry tree or sakura that puts out exquisite pale pink blossoms. The cherry blossom is Japan’s national flower. It is grown for its ornamental beauty and does not bear fruit.

Short but colourful life

To the Japanese, cherry blossom symbolises the ephemeral or transient quality of life. It features prominently in Japanese art, literature and folklore. At the picnics and parties, guests compose short poems or create brush paintings on the spot in celebration.

Cherry blossom festivals are a Occasion for street fairs, with stalls selling local craft and food. Visitors can also relish traditional theatre and dance performances.

The arrival of the cherry blossom is tracked closely with round-the-clock – news reports providing updates on exactly where and when the fabled flowers will appear. The blossoming begins in January in Okinawa and reaches Kyoto and Tokyo in April. It blooms last in Hokkaido in the northern reaches a few weeks later. The flower was used to whip up patriotic fervour during World War Il with the soldiers’ sacrifice compared to the falling of the blossoms. Japanese pilots on suicide missions painted the cherry blossom on the side of their planes.

Blooming friendship

Japan has gifted thousands of cherry trees as a goodwill gesture to several countries. The cities which have nurtured these cherry orchards hold a cherry blossom festival every spring, just like in Japan. One such city is Washington D.C. which received 3,000 trees from Japan in 1912.

Every spring, the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River in Washington DC erupts in a shower of white and pink as thousands of cherry blossom trees bloom in all their glory.

Picture Credit : Google

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