JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.62

~Scenery of Japan~ Sakura


Sakura, a globally recognized Japanese word for cherry blossoms, refers to trees and their flowers belonging to genus Prunus. Although it is believed to have originated in the Himalayas, Sakura is widely distributed today in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere including the U.S., Europe, and West Siberia.

Sakura is commonly considered as one of the representatives of typical and iconic Japanese sceneries along with Mt. Fuji. In fact, Sakura is deeply incorporated into the Japanese culture and society. It has often been found in traditional and modern Japanese art such as poetry, Ukiyo-e painting, manga, film, popular songs, and so forth, symbolizing the arrival of spring, happiness, and sometimes ephemeral nature of life. When spring comes and Sakura blooms, the Japanese people get together, sometimes in great numbers, to hold feasts around flowering trees in parks or at riversides. This long-standing Japanese tradition is known as “Hanami,” literally meaning “flower-viewing.” Sakura is even depicted on the 100-yen coin, so check it out if you have one at hand.

Sakura is closely tied with the MOD/SDF too as uniforms of the SDF officers bear the symbol of Sakura flower. Sakura is also planted in a large number of SDF bases and camps, some of which hold Sakura festivals in spring so that people can come in and admire the beautiful flowers. Here, Sakura is no longer a metaphor for ephemerality. Rather, it serves as a tribute to the enduring tie between local residents and the SDF.

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