Oh, hanami! Where it comes from
I am new to Japan, and do not understand all the fuss about cherry blossoms. Can you explain the origins of this tradition?
In the Pink In Tokyo
Like many things, the Japanese borrowed the idea of flower viewing from the Chinese, although the appreciation of the cherry blossom’s ephemeral nature particularly suits the Japanese sensibility. Since the flowers are only in bloom for a few weeks each year, this short but lovely life span symbolizes human existence for the Japanese. The sakura was even adopted as a symbol of samurai life, another short existence marked by a striving towards beauty.
Flower viewing, as it’s celebrated in Japan today, emerged in the late sixteenth century. Up until this point, cherry blossom viewing was only practiced by the nobility, as in China. Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi popularized the activity by holding cherry-blossom-viewing parties in several cities, and further encouraged the seasonal event by having cherry trees planted in various parts of Japan.
History can only get you so far, however. My advice to you: grab a moogarita and your favorite herd and head over to a cherry blossom tree. Some traditions should not be studied too hard, but merely enjoyed. If you sip time slowly and consider the falling cherry blossom snow against a bright blue sky, you will surely understand the merits of this tradition.