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2023-11-20 00:00:00 / episode: 308


Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom and it's talking about the national flower of Japan which is found on the Cherry tree. I'm going to talk about the origin, the meaning and the fun side of these Sakura blossoms today. Introduction Hi and welcome to the Les Perras podcast for extensive English listening. This is episode 308 and naturally it's about the cherry blossom in Japan which is called sakura. At the end of the video there is a list of some of the main words that come up here so you can refer to them and extend your vocabulary through extensive English listening. Origins Depending on who you talk to or what source you're reading, the origin of the cherry tree as a symbolic important thing in Japan comes from the Heian period, which is about a thousand years ago. But another source that I found talks about it originating in the Nara period, which is about 1,300 years ago. That means that Japan has used the flower on the cherry tree as a symbol for a long, long time. It became particularly strong in the heian period. While in the beginning it was the custom of viewing the cherry blossoms, which is called hanami in Japanese, That was only for the elite of the Imperial court. Iit began to spread out from there. Next to adopt the custom were the samurai. And then after that the custom moved into the common people as well. So by the end of the Edo, most people in Japan enjoyed doing hanami which means enjoying the cherry blossoms in one way or another. Meaning In the beginning, the festival was a way to worship the gods inside the trees. These are kami in Japanese. One belief goes that the word Sakura can be broken into sa and kura and the sa was referring to a god so people were worshipping the gods when they went to visit the blooming cherries. Another theory I read about, talked about hanami being used as a way to predict the harvest of the next year so it was kind of fortunate telling. And then there is the deeper philosophical symbolism attached to the cherries themselves. They are beautiful but very short lived so they became a symbol of the impermanence of life and a reminder to us to enjoy the moment as it is because it's going to change and we're all going to die quickly after that. In some places the Cherry viewing also embodied wabi-sabi in Japan which is a really deep philosophical concept which I don't feel capable of explaining today. At any rate this Cherry viewing activity has deep symbolism in the history of Japan. On the other hand I'm not sure it has all that strong symbolism for the average Japanese person today. It's a really fun event as we're going to see in a moment. The fun side Today's Cherry viewing activities largely include people going out in the afternoon to have a picnic underneath the cherry trees. There's often alcohol involved and people can sit and enjoy the the beautiful spring weather with beautiful cherry blossoms forming a canopy over their heads. Frequently the petals are falling as people are eating and drinking and sometimes they even move to singing and I've even seen people dancing under the trees. This is a great fun time and millions of Japanese like going out every year to enjoy the flowers of the cherry tree. You have to be quick though, because the flowers are usually in full bloom for only a few days and they're blossoming only for about a week although it stretches out to 2 weeks when you consider different trees are blooming at different times. Timing This happens at the end of March and the beginning of April every year but the timing is dependent on the season and how the weather is going every year. Rain brings bad luck because it causes the cherries to lose all their petals so if you want to go to Japan to see the Cherry blossom festival you have to get your timing just right or go for a long holiday.

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