Springtime in Japan evokes warmth and the spirit of togetherness. A walk in the park sparks a reflection of nature commandeering the pond to take a picture of the sky and the cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms can be found strung along the riverside and ponds in Mobara City, Chiba during spring and of course all over Japan.
The cherry blossom (sakura) is Japan's unofficial national flower. The blooming time of cherry trees differs from year to year depending on the weather. If the weather during the months and weeks preceding the cherry blossom season is mild, blossoms will open early. If it is cold, blossoms will open later. From year to year, the start of the blooming season can vary by as much as two weeks.
There are over one hundred cherry tree varieties in Japan. A few of them are wild varieties native to Japan's forests, such as the Yamazakura, but the large majority of them have been cultivated by humans over the centuries for decorative use in gardens and parks. By far the most popular cherry tree variety today is the particularly pretty, cultivated Somei Yoshino. There are several characteristics differentiating the many cherry tree varieties such as:
- The form of the tree (triangular, columnar, V-shape, weeping, flat-topped, etc.)
- Time of blooming (most cherry tree varieties carry blossoms in spring)
- The fresh leaves
In case of early blooming trees, the fresh leaves usually do not appear until after full bloom, which gives the trees an attractive, homogeneous look while they are in full bloom. In case of later blooming trees, the leaves usually appear before the blossoms, giving the trees a more heterogeneous look. Furthermore, the color of the fresh leaves differs between the varieties. In most cases, the fresh leaves are green, coppery brown, or something in between.
- Color of the blossoms
Most varieties produce light pink to white blossoms, but there are also cherry trees with dark pink, yellow or green blossoms. Furthermore, the color of some varieties' cherry blossoms may change while they are in bloom.
- The number of petals
Most wild trees (also a lot of cultivated tree varieties) have blossoms with five petals. However, some species have blossoms which consist of ten, twenty or more petals. Trees with blossoms of more than five petals are called yaezakura.
Cherry blossoms bring families and friends from all backgrounds together. Sights and sounds of picnics, music, laughter and how could I forget, children at play can be seen and heard everywhere. I was very fortunate to experience this for the first time in Japan. On the other hand, there are those moments of complete silence as people reflect on the past and present. Feeling the cool breeze glide on your skin and the fresh smell of the air brings calmness and a feeling of hope that life is precious, and we have lived to see this moment-a moment of reflection with the Cherry Blossoms.....Sakura!