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Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) in Manga

In Manga, Anime, and Webtoons there are often occasions when the protagonists either stand behind a cherry blossom tree and kiss while the petals are romantically falling down, or they go on a picnic to view the cherry blossoms specifically. Like in A condition called love for example:

(c) Megumi Morino / Kodansha Ltd

So where is this tradition coming from and what do Sakura and Hanami even mean?

Sakura (桜 or 櫻; さくら or サクラ in Japanese) means cherry blossom and is considered the national flower of Japan. The term often refers to ornamental cherry trees from the genus Prunus.

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) in Manga: Hanami (花見) meaning

Hanami means flower viewing and is practiced throughout Japan – with family or as a company outing. If you just want to take a stroll in the park it’s also called Hanami but it is typically celebrated with a picnic under the trees. The custom was first registered during the Nara period (710-794) but was only practiced by the Elite of the Imperial Court. During the Edo (~1600 – 1870) period the custom spread throughout the country. It was customary to share a sake under the trees.

(c) Megumi Morino / Kodansha Ltd

Sakura in Japan: symbolic meaning

When the cherry blossoms begin to bloom it marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The transcience of life, which is a major theme in Buddhism is also represented in the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms, as they only bloom for a short amount of time every year. So the Japanese remind themselves every year that life is short and celebrate the present. In China, the cherry blossoms stand for love, beauty, and sexuality. Japanese poetry also often focuses on that meaning of the Sakura, so there are many meanings of the cherry blossoms that can’t be narrowed down only to Japan.

The cherry blossom petals are said to symbolize the souls of fallen Samurai, that feared death but sacrificed their life anyway. This theme was also used in World War II where the Japanese spirit was shown through cherry blossoms as the warriors were supposed to be ready to throw their life away – like falling cherry petals. They also painted cherry blossoms on the sides of their plains, before embarking on a suicide mission.

Which month is the cherry blossom in Japan?

(c) Megumi Morino / Kodansha Ltd

The cherry blossoms start to bloom first in the south around Kumamoto. In Tokyo, the cherry blossom season starts at the end of March. In Sapporo, in the North of Japan, you can view the cherry blossoms till the end of April and the beginning of March. So it depends where you want to travel to. There is a very detailed travel guide for Japan, where you can check out the exact time for every region: Japan guide.

Around Osaka, there is a huge park with many trees, but they also planted Ume – plum trees. The plum blossom is considered the National Flower of China. It is even painted on some of the airplanes from Chian Airlines. The plum blossom is also a symbol of spring, but mainly in Korea. In Japan, the plum blossom is considered a protective charm that helps against evil and is therefore often planted in the garden around the house.

I hope you liked my article about Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) in Manga, because I plan to write more articles like this 🙂

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