Cherry trees are in full blossom in New York City this week. There are a few beautiful cherry trees in the courtyard of LaGuardia Community College (only if we could go to campus to see them!).
桜 (sakura “cheery tree”) is the Japanese word for the cherry blossom tree, the most beloved spring flower in Japan. The history of sakura can be traced back to the Heian period (794-1185) in Japan. A large number of classic Japanese poems (such as Tanka and Haiku) have been produced addressing the transient beauty of Sakura blossom. In Japanese culture, sakura is a symbol of a new beginning since the academic year in Japan starts in April when the cherry blossoms burst into blossom.
Even now, 花見 (hanami “flower-viewing”) is still a popular social event in spring in Japan. Families and friends gather and picnic under fully-blossomed Sa- kura trees. After the long and bleak winter, hanami heralds the arrival of spring, a warm and beautiful season filled with flowers across Japan.
The Japanese are mesmerized by sakura not only for its beauty but also for the evanescent nature of its petals. The full blossom usually lasts only one week or so in spring — this transience creates a feeling of what Japanese call mono-no aware, a deep realization of the transient nature of life — an irony that we all know that beauty never lasts forever and a fate that real beauty like sakura is short-lived in our world.
Learn more about the cherry trees at LaGuardia Community College here.