Cherry blossoms are early! Why should you care?

The sakura blossoms, or cherry blossoms, are arriving earlier than usual! Why should you care, even if you aren’t in Japan?

Well, the history behind cherry blossom viewings probably isn’t what you think. 

Hanami, or the act of flower viewing, wasn’t always about cherry blossoms. In fact, before the Heian period (roughly 8th century), only wealthy elites celebrated hanami - and not with sakura blossoms, but with ume, or plum trees. Once Kyoto was founded in 794, kicking off the Heian period, all types of people began to celebrate their own version of hanami with cherry blossoms. Overtime, the overwhelming number of cherry blossom viewings surpassed ume viewings and slowly became a staple practice in Japan.

This style of hanami is still celebrated to this day. Tourists visit from all over the world to see Japan during spring and view the cherry blossoms. Why? Cherry blossoms are internationally known as the flower of Japan, for one, showing up often in contemporary films, anime, music, and more. And cherry blossoms aren’t just beautiful - they symbolize ephemerality and new beginnings. Since cherry blossoms only stick around for a few weeks, news outlets consistently report prediction updates regarding the cherry blooming cycle.

When are the cherry blossoms blooming this year? Check out this information gathered by Japan Rail Pass.

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