No not the pink haired girl from Naruto. But I bet you have seen one or two in anime.
The Sakura I am referring to is the beautiful Cherry Blossom Tree. Japan has a wide variety of sakura with over 200 cultivars to be found. Japanese Meteorological Agency track the sakuras front(zensen) (picture seen below) as it moves north with the warmer weather. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and normally reaches Kyoto and Tokyo by the beginning of April.
Hanami festivals are held to celebrate the beauty of the sakura. Hanami literally means flower viewing. Hanami festivals have been held in Japan for many many centuries. The sakuras blooming is something that is very symbolic to some. As it is seen as representing life and death. With their sudden arrival, beauty, and their with their quick departure. As the full bloom only lasts for about a week before the petals begin to fall.
Imperial Japan often planted cherry trees as a means of claiming occupied territory as a Japanese space.
A few popular spots to view the Sakuras in bloom.
Tokyo: Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, Chidorigafuchi, Sumida Park, Aoyama Cemetery, Koishikawa Botanical Garden, Inokashira Park
Yokohama: Kamonyama Park, Sankeien
Nagoya: Nagoya Castle
Kyoto: Maruyama Park, Philosopher's Trail, Heian Shrine, Arashiyama, Kamogawa, Daigoji Temple, Hirano Shrine, Okazaki Canal
Osaka: Osaka Castle Park, Osaka Mint Bureau
Himeji: Himeji Castle
Tohoku: Kakunodate, Hirosaki Castle
Here are a few more picture of Sakuras in anime.
This is only a small taste of how the Sakura is held in Japanese culture. As with most of the things that hold value in Japanese culture. There is a long and colorful history to be told.
I can only hope my small entries in this blog will make you want to find out more. So that you may find a bit of facts and history you will hold as a fond memory.