A Look At Japanese Sakura Trees

Takahata Fudo Pagoda 2

A few years ago, when I was living in Ireland, we had a Japanese friend who was Japanese (“R-chan”) and she knew a lot about Cherry blossoms. It was spring in Ireland and we saw some cherry blossoms in the neighborhood around Blackrock.

Until then, I always thought there was only one kind of “sakura” cherry tree (桜), but she explained that in Japan there were many varieties of Sakura, and they don’t all bloom at the same time.

Since this is cherry blossom season in Japan (and Seattle), I found this very helpful article by Japan Guide that shows the different species of Sakura and when they bloom. It’s interesting that not all Sakura have 5 petals, and some bloom at unusual times such as in Autumn.

Also, some particular sites are so famous that the trees even get their own name. For example, this is a cherry tree in Gifu Prefecture:

淡墨桜(cherry-Usuzumizakura)

The tree is called usuzumizakura, named after Usuzumi Park. The tree has been around for 1500 years, and was planted in the year 467!

Interestingly, the most famous variety of Sakura, the somei yoshino (染井吉野) is reported to be a hybrid species from the year 1700 between wild Japanese sakura and Korean sakura from Jeju Island.

For most people, the type, origin or age of sakura blossom doesn’t really matter. People just enjoy having picnics under cherry trees or taking photos. That’s probably all that matters anyway. 😉

For me, cherry blossoms are also great because they really embody the Buddhist teachings of impermanence and appreciating the moment, too.

P.S. Photo above is a “weeping” cherry tree, taken a few years ago with reader “Johnl” when we visited Takahata Fudō temple.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

13 thoughts on “A Look At Japanese Sakura Trees”

    1. Yeah, I know that feeling. Here in Seattle, we have a very nice grove of sakura trees at the University of Washington, and my wife and I like to go there in years past (with our little one too).

      It’s great, but not quite like the original. 😛

      Similarly, after living in Dublin, Ireland, the St. Patrick’s festivities in Seattle seem a bit small.

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  1. I was moving to a new place pretty much during the week of sakura blooming in Tokyo, so I didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy them. This past weekend, I went to Matsumoto (Nagano pref) to play in a concert. It was just about the peak for cherry blossoms there–good timing! Weeping cherries and Somei Yoshino both in full bloom.

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  2. Thank you for this! I love sakura of all kinds. Walking beneath the blossoms felt amazing. Wish I could see them again.

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  3. One of my most surprising experiences (after having lived in Japan) was discovering the sakura in Korea, so your comment about the hybridization really got my attention. In the one year we lived in Japan, we managed to arrive in Chinhae on precisely the day that was the height of the cherry blossom blooming there. It was overwhelming. We were driving: when we crested the hill, we looked down into the vale of that indescribable tint from horizon to horizon. Incredible…. Thanks for the post and the link….

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  4. Correction:
    One of my most surprising experiences (after having lived in Japan) was discovering the sakura in Korea, so your comment about the hybridization really got my attention. In the one year we lived in KOREA, we managed to arrive in Chinhae on precisely the day that was the height of the cherry blossom blooming there. It was overwhelming. We were driving: when we crested the hill, we looked down into the vale of that indescribable tint from horizon to horizon. Incredible…. Thanks for the post and the link….A.

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