The Japanese cherry blossom, known as the Sakura in Japanese, is the flower of a cherry tree that is cultivated for its decorative features rather than for cherries (it doesn’t bear fruit). The overwhelming beauty of the cherry blossom bloom has been known and adored for ages. The blooming period is associated with Japanese traditions, culture, aesthetics, and is a bittersweet metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life itself.
The blooming cherry blossoms herald the beginning of the centuries-old Hanami festival – the traditional Japanese custom of picnicking under trees rich with flowering Sakura branches and enjoying this short but striking first breath of spring. The blossoming wave usually starts in Okinawa in January or February and progresses through all of Japan until April or May. The cherry blossom front (Sakura zensen) can be conveniently tracked every year using this calendar.
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Eartha Kitt by Philipe Halsman, 1955.