Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan

The Rich History Behind Japan’s Beloved Cherry Blossom Viewing Tradition

The Japanese have cherished cherry blossom viewing for ages. Digging into its history and origin will enhance your experience. The aristocrats of the Nara period began cherry blossom viewing, but it was admiring plum blossoms that came from China. In the Heian period, they shifted to cherry blossoms and celebrated them as the emblem of spring. They held parties, wrote poems and enjoyed themselves. It’s said the basis of cherry blossom viewing today was poems composed by the Heian aristocrats while gazing at the stunning blossoms.

While aristocrats enjoyed the flowers, farmers held cherry blossom viewing as a ritual to pray for good harvests. They believed that the gods of rice fields lived in cherry blossoms that fell from the mountains in spring. The farmers thought cherry blossoms were so essential that they predicted crop harvest from the way the flowers bloomed and prepared to sow rice seeds according to the flowering season.

In the Kamakura period, cherry blossom viewing began to spread beyond the aristocrats to non-aristocratic people. By the Edo period, everyone, regardless of social status, gathered under beautiful cherry blossom trees, sang songs, ate lunch boxes, and enjoyed spring’s arrival, the style of cherry blossom viewing today.

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