A cherry blossom, also known as Japanese cherry or sakura, is a flower of many trees of genus Prunus or Prunus subg. Cerasus. They are common species in East Asia, including China, Korea and especially in Japan. They generally refer to ornamental cherry trees, not to be confused with cherry trees that produce fruit for eating. It is considered the national flower of Japan.
The Northern hemisphere is where the majority of the wild cherry tree species can be found. Cherry trees grown for decorative reasons are categorized under the roughly 400 species-strong genus Prunus in the traditional taxonomy used in Europe and North America. Contrarily, ornamental cherry trees are grouped into the genus Cerasus in the conventional classification used in Japan, China, and Russia. This genus is made up of about 100 species that are distinct from the genus Prunus and does not include, among others, Prunus salicina, Prunus mume, and Prunus grayana. However, there weren’t many wild cherry trees with a high number of cherry blossom-viewing-worthy blossoms in Europe and North America. A large number of them were dissimilar to the normal cherry tree shapes and blossoms.
Many of them deviated from what most people now perceive to be cherry tree shapes and blossoms for cherry blossom viewing. Since ancient times, plum blossom viewing has been a tradition in mainland China. There are many wild species of cherry blossoms, but many of them have small flowers. Additionally, the distribution area of wild species of cherry blossoms that bear large flowers suitable for hanami is frequently constrained to a small area far from people’s homes. On the other hand, Prunus species (Oshima cherry) and Prunus jamasakura (Yamazakura), which bloom huge blossoms suited for cherry blossom viewing and tend to become large trees, were dispersed in a fairly wide region of the country and close to people’s residential places in Japan. As a result, it is believed that Japan has a long history of cultivating varieties and enjoying cherry blossom viewing.
Many of the cherry trees used nowadays for cherry blossom viewing are cultivars rather than natural species. Because cherry trees can change, numerous cultivars, particularly in Japan, have been developed for cherry blossom viewing. Since the Heian era, the Japanese have created a large number of cultivars by selecting exceptional or mutant offspring from wild cherry tree natural crosses or from artificial crosses, and then breeding them through grafting and cutting. Oshima cherry, Yamazakura, Prunus pendula f. ascendens (syn, Prunus itosakura, Edo higan), and other plants that naturally occur in Japan are susceptible to mutation; in particular, Oshima cherry, an endemic species in Japan, has a propensity to mutate into a variety that is double-flowered, grows quickly, produces a lot of large flowers, and has a pot Because of its advantageous traits, Oshima cherry has created a lot of sakura known as the Sato-zakura Group as a base of cultivars. Yoshino cherry and Kanzan are representative cultivars whose parent species is the Oshima cherry; Yoshino cherries are currently being planted in Asian countries, while Kanzan is currently being planted in Western countries.
An Englishman named Collingwood Ingram collected and studied Japanese cherry blossoms in Europe between the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. He also developed a number of ornamental cultivars, which helped to popularize the practice of cherry blossom viewing. Following Japan’s gift of cherry blossoms as a sign of friendship in 1912, the practice of seeing them in the United States grew.
Because cherry blossoms bloom in large numbers, they also serve as an enduring metaphor for the transient nature of life. This is a feature of Japanese cultural tradition that is frequently linked to Shinto influence and is embodied in the idea of mono no aware. The 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga is credited with coining the link between the cherry blossom and mono no aware. For this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic and are frequently used in Japanese art, manga, anime, and film, as well as at live performances for ambient effect. The transience of the blossoms, the magnificent beauty, and the volatility have often been associated with mortality and gracious and readily accepting of destiny and karma.
In addition to various pop songs, there is at least one well-known folk song called “Sakura,” which was originally written for the shakuhachi (bamboo flute). The blossom can be found on kimonos, stationery, and dishware, among other consumer goods, in Japan.
Young officers in the Imperial Japanese Army chose the name “Sakurakai” or “Cherry Blossom Society” for their covert organization in September 1930. The group’s goal was to restructure the government along totalitarian militaristic lines, possibly through a military coup.