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Hanami / Sakura Matsuri - Cherry Blossom Festival

         Sakura, or cherry blossom, is one of the most cherished flowers in Japan, despite the Kiku (chrysanthemum) being the historical national flower. It's safe to say that Sakura is the unofficial national flower. The Japanese adore the delicate pink and white of the sakura blossoms and the whole country pauses in spring for festivals surrounding the trees blooming. The country begins the "watch" in early March for the blooms that begin in the south, with weather casters predicting and  following the wave of blossoms as they spread north. Bursting forth as the wave sweeps north through the county, the blooms last only one to two weeks, depending on the weather (wind and rain can do them in quite quickly).

        Taking advantage of the notoriously short-lived beauty,  festivals sweep north up through the country as the trees open. In addition to the more-than-one-can-count Sakura Matsuri held in cities, towns and villages, it's common to host or attend Hanami - Cherry Blossom Viewing parties. People will compete to stake out the best spots, and then it's a fun time of eating (picnics, bento, etc.) and socializing while enjoying the spectacular views the tress offer. As the petals begin to drop, it can be as thick as a snowfall.

       Sakura-inspired temari designs are plentiful; whether they are interpreted, implied using negative space, or freely embroidered, they are a common and well-loved design inspiration.

        A web search for Sakura will give you many opportunities to see the blossoms throughout Japan.

Last updated 11/2013 © 1998 - 2014 G. Thompson/PuffinStuff, Inc.