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Sakura: Japan's Symbol of Spring

What are sakura, and what do they mean in Japan?

Cherry blossoms, also referred to by their Japanese name, sakura, are perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the country and its culture. Blooming a splendid pink for a total of about two weeks in early spring (coinciding with the start of Japan's academic and fiscal year), the blossoms commonly appear in Japanese literature and media to represent renewal, and the passage of time. The blossoms are also seen to be representative of the fleeting nature of beauty, and of life itself. Despite this wistful symbolism, cherry blossom season is very much a celebration – both of their flowers’ beauty, and of every unique opportunity that this cycle of change provides. Each year, Japan's residents seize the opportunity to get out and enjoy these splendid flowers - checking the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Sakura Forecast to find out when the sakura are expected to bloom. It is common for Japanese people to plan parties, picnics, and pilgrimages to famous parks – and even specific trees!

Hanami - Flower Viewing

What better way to acknowledge life’s fleeting beauty than to gather those you care about, and celebrate beneath the cherry blossoms? In Japan, this centuries-old practice is called hanami. Although "hanami" literally translates to “flower viewing”, the practice is so commonly associated with the spring season that “flower” in this context almost always refers to the cherry blossom. During springtime, you are certain to see friends, family, and couples, laying out tarps and blankets beneath the falling petals, to share picnics, play games, and enjoy this short glimpse of the cherry blossom's beauty. These gatherings can range from rowdy, to romantic, to contemplative - making it suitable for all ages and backgrounds. Check out the video below to learn more about Hanami:

Sakura in Canada?

Though not at the same scale as in Japan, there are a number of spots to enjoy cherry blossoms here in Canada as well!
Won't be making it to Japan in time for this year's cherry blossoms? Consider checking out some of Canada's own sakura destinations below:

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