It stands for life, but also for ephemeral existence where all it takes is a breath of wind to start the never-ending cycle again. Meet the true star of Hanami.
In Japan there is a popular festival called Hanami which is celebrated throughout the length and breadth of the country. Although this festival is about all kinds of flowers, over time it increasingly came to be a nationwide tribute to the cherry blossom which for the Japanese symbolises happiness and wellbeing.
Since the ninth century or thereabouts, the festival of Hanami has been celebrated in April, at the height of spring, during the flowering of the cherry blossom. These flowers are called Sakura and in their brief flowering, stand for the fleeting and sadly ephemeral beauty of human life..
Sakura call us to reflect on our birth, growth and also our inevitable withering/death. And we are speaking about a flower so delicate that all it takes is a puff of wind to pluck it from the branch. So that it falls to the ground in the infinite cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth.
In the world there are about a hundred varieties of cherry blossom, but the one is greatest demand continues to be the pink five-petaled one called Somei Yoshino. Its five petals stand for loyalty, purity, courage, honesty and rectitude, the main virtues possessed by a true Samurai.
These flowers were also the symbol of the Kamikaze of the Japanese airforce during the Second World War. To die bravely for your country, in the ideology of the time, encompassed all the qualities of the Somei Yoshino.
Their being held in such high esteem meant of course that cherry blossom became an inevitable subject for lovers of tattoo art. This delicate image from Japan is popular with women of all age who favour it on arms, sides, legs or either side of the back.
A tattoo of cherry blossom is a paeon to a life lived to the full or a tribute to a loved one who has passed on but lives on in the heart. All because of the ineffable mystery of life and death with which Sakura has been associated since ancient times.
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