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Cherry Blossom/Sakura

ritau
02-13
A cherry blossom is a flower of many trees of genus Prunus. The most well-known species is the Japanese cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is commonly called sakura (桜 or 櫻; さくら).

They are widely distributed, especially in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere including Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Mainland China, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Thailand and West Siberia.Along with the chrysanthemum, the cherry blossom is considered the national flower of Japan.

All varieties of cherry blossom trees produce small, unpalatable fruit or edible cherries. Edible cherries generally come from cultivars of the related species Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus.

In Japan, cherry blossoms symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse, besides being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhist influence, and which is embodied in the concept of mono no aware.The association of the cherry blossom with mono no aware dates back to 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga. The transience of the blossoms, the exquisite beauty and volatility, has often been associated with mortality and graceful and readily acceptance of destiny and karma; for this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic, and have been utilized often in Japanese art, manga, anime, and film, as well as at musical performances for ambient effect. There is at least one popular folk song, originally meant for the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), titled "Sakura", and several pop songs. The flower is also represented on all manner of consumer goods in Japan, including kimono, stationery, and dishware.

The most popular variety of cherry blossom in Japan is the Somei Yoshino. Its flowers are nearly pure white, tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem. They bloom and usually fall within a week, before the leaves come out. Therefore, the trees look nearly white from top to bottom. The variety takes its name from the village of Somei (now part of Toshima in Tokyo). It was developed in the mid- to late-19th century at the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period. The Somei Yoshino is so widely associated with cherry blossoms that jidaigeki and other works of fiction often depict the variety in the Edo period or earlier; such depictions are anachronisms.

Winter sakura or fuyuzakura (Prunus subhirtella autumnalis) begins to bloom in the fall and continues blooming sporadically throughout the winter. It is said to be a cross between edohiganzakura, the Tokyo Higan cherry (P. incisa) and mamezakura (P. pendula).

Other categories include yamazakura, yaezakura, and shidarezakura. The yaezakura have large flowers, thick with rich pink petals. The shidarezakura, or weeping cherry, has branches that fall like those of a weeping willow, bearing cascades of pink flowers.

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