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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogSakura Meaning: The Cultural Symbolism of Cherry Blossoms!

Sakura Meaning: The Cultural Symbolism of Cherry Blossoms!

Bryan HallBryan Hall
Published Time
Posted on 
April 20, 2023
Modified Time
Updated last 
April 20, 2023
An ethereal paniting of cherry blossoms, which give the sakura meaning.

What gives the cherry blossoms, or “sakura”, meaning? They are the ultimate sign of spring’s arrival! These soft pink flowers never fail to amaze people with their delicate beauty. But did you know they also carry deep cultural and symbolic meaning?

Every year, around the end of March, Japan explodes with sakura everywhere! Between sweet sakura treats, picnics under the sakura trees, and sakura festivals, it’s easy to overlook the history and meaning behind this fleeting flower. 

Origins of Sakura Meaning

Hanagasumi, or cherry blossoms petals in a body of water, which gives the sakura meaning.
Hanagasumi are essentially cherry blossom rivers. Image via Shutterstock

Cherry blossoms are native to Japan and have been cultivated there for over a thousand years! They are the flower of the cherry blossom tree, which belongs to the rose family. In Japan, cherry blossoms have a long history in Japanese culture. One of the most popular kinds of sakura is the somei yoshino, which people love for their pale pink petals.

The Symbolism of Sakura Meaning

In Japanese culture, the cherry blossom represents a variety of concepts, including the fleeting nature of life; everything changes eventually. This idea is known as mono no aware, which is the feeling we get when we appreciate the beauty of the sakura but are also sad knowing they will soon be gone.

A cherry blossom charm hangs on a tree vine, which gives the sakura meaning.
For some people, cherry blossoms represent the transience of life. Image via Shutterstock

Cherry blossoms are also seen as a symbol of renewal, representing the promise of new beginnings. In Japan, cherry blossom season happens at the same time as the start of the school year, making it a time of new beginnings and fresh starts!

Sakura in Pop Culture

Cherry blossoms are a beloved symbol in Japanese pop culture! You’ll find them everywhere, from anime to music videos to fashion! Many anime and manga series use cherry blossom imagery to express fleeting beauty and melancholy. 

A woman wearing a kimono with a cherry blossom print, which gives the sakura meaning.
Cherry blossoms are a classic motif in Japanese clothing. Image via Shutterstock

In J-pop music, cherry blossoms represent love, romance, hope, and renewal. Meanwhile, you can find sakura motifs on everything from traditional kimonos to modern streetwear!

Are you looking for snacks to enjoy during the cherry blossom season? Try TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers limited-edition Japanese noodles, snacks, drinks, and sweets right to your door so you can enjoy the latest spring goodies directly from Japan!

Sakura Viewing

Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is a yearly tradition in Japan where people go out and party under the cherry blossoms! It’s like a giant picnic where families and friends gather and sit under the blooming cherry blossoms. People set up their picnic blankets early to grab a great spot under the trees and then spend the day eating, drinking, and hanging out.

Two people relaxing and enjoying their cherry blossom hanami on a hill.
Many people enjoy cherry blossoms during the springtime! Image via Shutterstock

Hirosaki Park in Aomori is one of the most famous places to do hanami, thanks to its 50 varieties of 2,600 sakura trees! There are so many people in the park during the hanami season that it feels like a giant festival, with live music and yatai (food stalls) everywhere. It’s an experience you don’t want to experience after you visit Japan!

Sakura in the United States

As a symbol of friendship between Japan and the U.S., the mayor of Tokyo gifted 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C., in 1912. Today, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated every year in D.C.

Cherry blossoms near the Washington Monument in the United States.
Washington, DC, is one of the premier cherry blossom spots in the United States! Image via Shutterstock

People visit from all over the world. Festival goers enjoy many fun events, like a parade, fireworks, and cultural performances. However, the cherry blossom trees lining the Potomac River are the main attraction.

But it’s not just D.C., where you can celebrate and see cherry blossoms in the States! From the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City to the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, there are plenty of chances and places to experience the beauty of cherry blossoms.

Cherry blossoms at the Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn, NY.
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is perfect for viewing all types of lovely flowers! Image via Shutterstock

Sakura Around the World

In addition to Japan and the United States, there are cherry blossoms in many other parts of the world! In Korea, cherry blossoms are “beot-kkot,” and people celebrate them during the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival.

Two women in tradtional Korean hanbok dress, viewing cherry blossoms in a park.
Cherry blossoms in Korea are called “beot-kkot”. Image via Shutterstock

Throughout Europe, cherry blossoms can also be found, such as at the famous Heertrasse Avenue in Bonn, Germany. You can find several beautiful white sakura in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France. Whereas in places like Copenhagen, Denmark, you can celebrate these beauties at the Copenhagen Sakura Festival!

A Blossoming Future

Cherry blossoms may be famous for their beauty, but they also carry a deep cultural significance that spans centuries. Whether you are admiring them in Japan, the United States, or elsewhere, cherry blossoms are a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the promise of new beginnings! 

Cherry blossoms in German are “kirschblüte”. Image via Shutterstock

So next time you see cherry blossoms in bloom, take a moment to reflect on their beauty and symbolism. And who knows, maybe they’ll inspire you to start something new!

After all, cherry blossoms may only bloom for a short period each year, but their impact and significance will last for a long time! Is there any trivia or history about cherry blossoms that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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