Going Crazy Over Cherry Blossoms

As a former biology teacher and amateur botanist, I have to admire a country that celebrates the spring cherry blossoms to the extent that the Japanese do. Everyone talks about the sakura or cherry blossoms that can be seen all over the city. There are many different species of cherries (Prunus spp.) and next year I intend to identify more of them. We had a hanami (blossom viewing party) at school. Everyone was talking about it and many people were having picnics under the trees. There are a lot of cherry trees in Japan. I saw hundreds of them all over the city. As you can see in the photos and video, they are a common tree in parks and they are used to line streets, streams, and reservoirs.

The viewing of cherry blossoms started in the 700s here in Japan and at first the ume or plum tree was more celebrated. They are a symbol of the ephemeral nature of life, which has Buddhist influences. Stopping to “smell the roses” or cherries, here is a good lesson for all of us. Soak in as much of every day as you can!

The symbol of the cherry blossom was used by the military in the build up to and during World War II. Japanese kamikaze pilots painted them on the side of their planes. Today they have a more peaceful symbolic value.

Below is a video of my morning bike ride. Loving the spring morning runs and bike rides!

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