Timeless, but fragile, sakura

Cerisiers en fleurs à Tokyo

Cherry blossoms in Tokyo

Agatha Marty

The heart of Japan: Cherry blossoms

Discussion about the love affair between Japan and the Sakura, with the Secretary-general of the Japanese Cherry Association.

A visit to Shinjuku Park in Tokyo, one of the most famous observation spots in the country, demonstrates this: under roofs of white flowers, groups of Japanese have unfolded tarpaulins and taken out their picnic kit. Around the trees gravitate, like spinning tops, the proverbial Japanese amateur photographers, harnessed as if on an African safari in search of the most beautiful shot, trying to avoid the tourists who would spoil the photo. With great difficulty, as the latter show themselves to be restless and inventive: newlyweds, fashion photographers, Chinese retirees, girlfriends on the go… All live a brief and exceptional moment in their lives. Like the cherry tree.

The Japanese craze for cherry blossoms is well known and documented. He would have been born at the time of the Heian period (794-1185) at the Imperial court, they would have gradually won the warrior class of samurai to end up with that of ordinary mortals. The latter continue to press en masse at their feet each spring; they are then the subject of information bulletins at the appearance of the first petals, in the south, in Okinawa, until their disappearance in the north, in Hokkaido. This vertical surge of flowers recalls the very "latitudinal" nature of the land, narrow and long: we are never more than 200 kilometers from the sea in Japan, with its territory stretched over 3500 kilometers from north to south.



Cerisier en fleurs au temple Senso-ji, Asakusa

Cherry blossoms at Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa

Yu Kato

Finally, the cherry tree in blossom represents the attachment to nature, as if besieged in increasingly massive, vertical, intimidating metropolises, where parks and gardens shrink in the shadow of skyscrapers. The sakura is never more touching than in the middle of the street in Tokyo, spared by the concrete that covers everything. Despite its fragility, it can also be seen as the symbol of military virtues and in particular of the sacrifice of young suicide bombers during the Second World War.

In these times of peace and the next Rugby World Cup in 2019, the Japanese national team is nicknamed the Brave Blossoms, or "brave flowers", irresistibly evoking the Cherry blossoms (cherry blossoms).

Fleurs de cerisier

Cherry blossoms

Banter Snaps

Cherry Blossom may also be a masterpiece in jeopardy. How would it escape the climatic upheavals?

"Already the rainy season is no longer the same," worries Nobuyuki Asada. Sudden and frequent changes in temperature, rainy days combined with bright sunshine at this time of year make this miracle very risky. "If a Frenchman wants to do a hanami tour in Japan, I recommend that he choose his itinerary according to the flowering of the cherry trees from south to north. Each region has its interest and its particularity. The important thing is to be able to observe the cherry trees from the start of flowering until the petals fall," he advises.

On good terms…

Mont Fuji et cerisiers en fleurs

Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms

Daniel Hehn

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