By Jim Caldwell
The Cherry Trees
As the seasons change from winter to spring, sometime between March and April, the Japanese sakura (cherry blossoms) come alive. The blossoms represent the end of Winter to the beginning of Spring’s new life and the next growing season.
The sakura are ornamental, with the most popular variety, the Somei, possessing an almost pure white flower dotted with specks of pink. As the trees enter full bloom, they dramatically cascade into full whiteness. Individual blooms last approximately a week, unless the weather decides otherwise.
In Japan, the custom of viewing the flowers is known as Hanami, or viewing of the flowers. Families and coworkers will gather at a park or castle for a picnic to celebrate. Depending on what part of country, Japan has festivals from the end of January extending as late as June.
In 1912, as a gift to the United States celebrating its growing friendship, Japan gave 3000 sakura that now line the shores of Washington DC’s West Potomac Park.