The cherry blossom tree is an iconic part of Japanese culture. Many Japanese people plan months in advance for the hanami, or the festival welcoming spring. During hanami, people eat, drink, sing songs and dance under the blossoming trees. In Japanese culture, the trees signify life while the celebration recognizes its transience.
The sakura is a flower revered for its symbolism. Of the many things it represents, its symbolism of friendship between Japan and America is notable. In 1912, Japan gifted 6,000 cherry blossom trees to the United States. This gift was the beginning of the famous trees in Washington DC. A hundred of those original trees are still standing today!
Cherry blossoms are not only a breathtaking sight in nature, they can also be used for delicious confections. Of these, sakura mochi is the most popular. Mochi rice cake is folded over azuki beans, and around the rice cake and beans is a salted cherry blossom leaf which balances the sweetness of the wagashi, or traditional Japanese confection. The taste of sakura is versatile and can also be used in sake, cakes and jellied desserts, to name a few.
Whether you are enjoying it for its scenic quality or its flavor, get into the spirit of spring with the sakura. Knowing that they won't last forever gives you all the more reason to appreciate its beauty!