Flowering cherries have been referred to as the soul of Japan.

flowering cherry tree
Photo: Flowering Cherry Tree by Joanne Gerber on Unsplash

The natural beauty of the individual flowers, the fragility of the blossoms under blue spring skies, threatened by showers and gusts of wind, have given cherries a special place in the hearts of the Japanese from the latter part of the 8th century, when the aristocracy first began to recognize their beauty.

The Emperor Jito is known to have taken parties to view the blossoms on Mount Yoshino. These parties (hanami), became more more popular and elegant as the courts became more sophisticated. Today, they are enjoyed by everyone. In 1908, art educator Florence Cane, wrote of the cherries in Ueno Parki, “the foreigner wishing to enjoy peace foe his viewing will do well to spend a few hours in undisturbed enjoyment of the more dignified of Ueno Park.” The trees in this park are relics of many groups planted in the area after 1603.

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