Locals and travelers are flocking trains and flights into Japan's national parks to see the beautiful sakura or cherry blossoms that go into huge clusters of full bloom once a year. Heading to Japan? Here are five facts about these flowers that could just enhance the experience for travelers.
The oldest Sakura tree is in Yamanashi Prefecture's Jissou Temple. According to Tsunagu Japan, the tree is about two centuries old and has expanded into different forms but remains enormous and ancient in its appearance. Despite its age, it still sprouts flowers regularly to the awe of visitors and even its caretakers.
The Cherry Blossom season in full bloom is a very short one and to celebrate the Japanese "Hanami" tradition, it is important to picnic underneath these trees. According to Conde Nast Traveler, visitors to Japan's national Sakura-laden parks should bring plenty of food -- preferably Japanese food -- for amazing picnics under the Sakura trees. Spreading a picnic sheet is a way to reserve your spot underneath a tree and spend the entire day appreciating the natural beauty of Cherry Blossoms.
One must remind their companions that climbing the tree to pick up the flowers or even shaking the trees is considered disrespectful to the tree itself. Cherry Blossoms have a short lifespan and tradition calls for visitors and celebrants to appreciate the short life of the Cherry Blossom, their beauty as they fall from the tree and the delicacy of the Sakura petals.
One might worry that petals of Sakura might land on open bento boxes especially during the season of full bloom. Sakura flowers and its petals are unbelievably edible. There is still the matter of cleanliness but specialty Japanese shops have a special Sakura mochi and tea that picnickers eat during this season underneath the trees as part of the Hanami tradition.
For the celebrants of Sakura, the trees should serve as a reminder for beginnings for all aspects including school and business. As April is Japan's fiscal year starts, one can consider Cherry Blossoms as subtle fireworks to celebrate a fresh start.