The cherry flower is the national flower of Japan, where it goes by the name of sakura. Cherry flowers, which vary in shape and colour, are a symbol of good luck and suggest a bright future. Students, who in April begin a new academic year, and school-leavers or graduates embarking on their careers in that same month, see in these flowers the radiant future that is opening up before them.
So it goes without saying that it’s a traditional (or, rather, essential) subject of Japanese tattooing and today various cherry blossom compositions (with splashing waves, masks, Japanese carps, clouds etc.) adorn the bodies of numerous Westerners, the motifs being particularly popular with women.
In China cherry blossom symbolises female beauty and the essence of femininity – love in the language of flowers. Because they blossom en masse cherry flowers also symbolise clouds.
In Japan the sakura is a metaphor for the ephemeral, transitory nature of life, its blooming indicating wonder yet brevity; this aspect of traditional Japanese culture is often associated with the influence of Buddhism.
The very transience of this flower, its breathtaking beauty and rapid withering, inevitably associates it with mortality. This is why the symbol of the sakura, so meaningful in Japan, is so often used in art, in manga comics, cinema and musical performances.
For the Japanese cherry blossom is also the harbinger of good luck and an emblem of love, affection and Springtime. Thus the sakura is represented in every way possible – and imaginable – on all kinds of Japanese consumer goods, from kimonos to stationary, household goods and many others.
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