What Do Cherry Blossoms Mean? Learn in Detail

Have you ever seen a pink wonderland?

Well, if you come to Japan during the spring season, you are going to be mesmerized by the delicate and sweet-looking cherry blossoms all over the country.

The explosion of these pale pink petals is a delightful sight to cherish, but did you know these flowers mean more than being just eye candy?

Yes, Japan’s national flower, cherry blossom, is recognized for its overwhelming beauty and has deep meanings.

So, today, I will explain what do cherry blossoms mean as well as some unknown facts about them.

But, first, let’s know what cherry blossoms are.

What Are Cherry Blossoms?

Cherry blossoms are also recognized as “Sakura” in Japan. They are small and pretty pink flowers that grow in cherry blossom trees.

These flowers bloom during the springtime, but their lifetime is remarkably brief. After only two weeks, they start to fall like confetti from the tree and scatter around with the flow of the winds.

Cherry blossom

Although Japan is known as the country of sakura, you will also find them in China, South Korea, and India.

With the elegance and unparalleled beauty, cherry blossoms now attract people worldwide to cherish the blooming.

Cherry blossom park in japan

Even some countries brought the cherry trees from Asia and then grew them in their respective land.

From the latest data, there are over 400 species of cherry trees. And, alone Japan has over 199 varieties of sakura with over 550 classifications.

Okay, it’s time to know what cherry blossoms represent.

Know What Do Cherry Blossoms Mean According to Different Countries

The meaning and symbolism of cherry blossoms differ from country to country.

For example, the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans all have separate beliefs about the cherry blossom tree.

First, I will tell you what sakura means in Japanese culture.

Cherry Blossom Meaning in Japan

Cherry blossom or sakura holds a highly significant place in Japan and is even considered an unofficial national flower of this country.

As you already know that these flowers have short lifespans; they serve as a reminder of the temporary nature of life.

Hence, the Japanese cherry blossom holds a spiritual meaning that refers to life being too short, and we have to live the present with full glory before we fall just like the flower petals.

Cherry tree

There is even an old story related to this tree that values the sacrifice of life.

It is believed that there was a Jiu-roku-zakura (cherry tree of the sixteenth day) in the Iyo district of Japan. For over a hundred years, this tree grew on the lands of a samurai.

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But, when the samurai became old, the tree also started to die. Because of this, the samurai felt really bad for the tree. As he was a brave and honorable man, he found a way to save the tree’s life.

Sitting under the tree, he committed a ritual suicide right there. This act provided the spirit of the samurai’s life to the tree. And within 1 hour of his death, on the 16th day of the month, the tree started to blossom and continues to live till today.

That’s how the cherry tree harbors several spiritual beliefs that hold deep meaning in the fundamental teachings of the Buddha.

Cherry trees in rural area

When you see a fallen cherry flower, it probably gives you a romantic feel like walking on the aisle. Right?

But, we Japanese have an emotional connection to these falling petals.

A fallen cherry blossom is a symbolic portrayal of a dead samurai who lost his life in battle. These flowers were also used as a symbol of the Kamikaze pilots’ mission.

The flowers represented the sacrifice that a young Japanese made for his country. It is also believed that these fallen flowers are the souls of those warriors who lost their lives in battle.

Fallen cherry flowers

So, the cherry blossoms symbolize not only birth but also the epitome of mortality.

But, now, sakura is no longer related to any self-destructive purpose, and they are valued for aesthetical and philosophical reasons.

Hence, it is admired as a symbol of rebirth and renewal in Japan.

Every year, we celebrate the arrival of the sakura with the Hanami Festival, which means flower viewing.

Cherry blossom in tokyo

Originated in the Nara Period, this feast represents the long-awaited appearance of spring and the gratitude of natural beauty.

During Hanami, you will see Japanese people gather under the cherry trees of the gardens and parks to appreciate the flower’s appearance. They sing songs, enjoy delicious food, and the companionship of family & friends.

Girl under cherry trees

If you come to Japan in April, you can catch the best view of fully flourished cherry blossoms all over the country.

By the way, it’s not the end of the Japanese cherry blossoms meaning!

According to ancient belief, once the deities lived in cherry trees. And the farmers used to pray to sakura trees with the hope that gods would bless their harvest.

To put it together, cherry blossoms in Japan mean life, falling apart, and renewal.

Cherry Blossom Meaning in China

While Japanese cherry blossoms represent the fragile nature of life, they hold a totally different meaning in China.

They are considered as a symbol of women’s dominance by using looks and beauty.

Cherry blossom in China

The beginning of cherry blossoms in China dates back to the second Sino-Japanese war between 1937 to 1945.

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It all began while a group of Japanese troops planted cherry trees at Wuhan University.

Cherry blossom tree in wuhan city

After the end of the war between the two countries, the Chinese decided to keep the trees regardless of their unfriendly relationship with Japan.

However, the relationship between the two countries slowly improved. And consequently, Japan donated nearly 800 cherry blossom trees to China as a remark of their friendship.

Cherry Blossom Meaning in Korea

The first cherry blossom tree was brought to South Korea during Japanese rule. It was initially planted in Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul, and the famous cherry blossom viewing was introduced too.

Changgyeonggung Palace

After the end of WWII, the Japanese surrendered to Korea. And, a large number of cherry trees were cut down in Korea to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the surrender.

This act made cherry blossom festivals quite controversial in Korea. And now Korean people plant cherry trees for local and tourist attractions.

Cherry blossom in South Korea

Therefore, in Korea, cherry blossoms symbolize beauty and purity.

According to Korean pop culture, these attractive blooms are often associated with true love.

Even in the popular Kdrama entitled Goblin, the female lead said, “If you catch falling cherry blossoms, your first love will come true.”

Hmm… Romantic!! Isn’t it?

catching cherry blossom

Well, several TV shows have romantic scenes under the cherry trees, giving them a meaning of love and beauty.

Cherry Blossom Meaning in The USA

In the United States, Cherry blossoms are considered a symbol of peace.

Japan gave over three thousand cherry trees to Washington, D.C, in 1912. It was an attempt to restore the friendship and political alliances between the two countries.

Back then, the trees were planted by first lady Helen Terron Taft and Viscountess Chinda (wife of the Japanese ambassador).

Cherry blossom in Washington D.C.

Today, these cherry trees are honored at D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival each year.

During the fiesta, thousands of people come to the city to soothe their eyes by watching the spectacular shades of pink and white cherry blossoms.

Cherry blossom festival in Washington D.C.

Alright, by far, you have known about what sakura means in terms of different countries.

But, one particular question that I was asked a lot is whether cherry blossoms are Chinese or Japanese.

So, I want to clear out this matter now.

Which Country Is The Origin of Sakura?

There is a huge controversy on where did cherry blossoms first originate.

The record shows that cherry blossoms have a long history with Japan. Even the Hanami Festival became famous during the Heian Period (794 to 1185) when the emperors and other members of the Imperial Palace started to host feasts under the flourished cherry tree.

I can say that when you love something, you know how to appreciate it too.

Cherry blossom in japan

And, we Japanese have always been admiring the cherry blossoms in the utmost respectful way.

However, both China and Korea claim that the origin of sakura is not Japan but their own country.

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Personally, I think we should always admire the beauty that nature is giving us rather than engaging ourselves in conflict on the ownership of these flowers.

In fact, no one owns nature, and it is better to leave the flower’s origin a mystery.

cherry flower on hand

Well, I think we should move to a fun segment.

First, tell me, do you love Japanese anime? If yes, then you may have seen many scenes with cherry blossoms. Right?

Then you must have wondered what do cherry blossoms mean in anime?

So, I will give you an answer to this query now.

Cherry Blossoms Meaning in Anime

Cherry blossoms are often used in Japanese anime series.

And just like the belief, these flowers represent new beginnings, death, and friendship depending on the situation of the particular scene.

One anime that uses cherry blossoms as a symbol of new hope is Clannad.

Japanese anime with flower

On the contrary, in Hakuouki Season 2, the falling petals represent the fleeting life of the young samurai.

And in Beyond the Boundary, cherry blossoms are used to portray friendship and unions.

Alright, I have nothing to add to this discussion. So, let’s wrap it up here.

Conclusion

As you have got a detailed explanation of what do cherry blossoms mean, you can finally understand why we Japanese people are kinda obsessed with these flowers.

If you have never seen cherry blossoms in real life, I want to invite you to our country this upcoming spring.

Just come and enjoy a hanami party with us.

I can assure you that you are going to fall in love with the elegance and soft-looking beauty of this flower immediately.

Lastly, have a good day.

Frequently Asked Questions:

As you know, cherry blossoms bloom for a short period every year. And, their arrival with fresh pink petals represents a new start with full glory.

Therefore, cherry blossoms are also a symbol of good luck, great fortune, and wealth.

Cherry blossom tattoos are a magnificent floral symbol that means love, beauty, and the passing of time.

These tattoos are a metaphor for the transient of life as the cherry blossoms don’t live long. They also represent humanity and hope.

Depending on which country you are in, the cherry blossom tattoo can be offensive or not.

In Japan, this delicate-looking flower is associated with culture, and it is also the country’s national flower. A tattoo of fallen cherry petals could mean the end of someone’s life in terms of Japanese.

But, as cherry blossoms also hold the meaning of a new beginning and beauty, the young generation of Japan are now appreciating the tattoo.

On the other hand, a cherry blossom tattoo could mean peace and harmony in America.