The Sakura Story: Cherry Blossom Symbolism in the Langauge of Flowers

Cherry blossoms are some of the most symbolically significant flowers in the world. These exquisitely beautiful blooms are one of the highlights of spring, especially in Japan. Also known as sakura, cherry blossoms are rich in meaning and cultural significance. This article will cover everything you need to know about cherry blossom’s meaning and symbolism in the language of flowers.

Cherry Blossom Meaning in the Language of Flowers

Cherry Blossom Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Due to its brief flowering period, cherry blossom often carries the symbolic meaning of impermanence of life. Cherry blossom is also linked to the coming of spring and is representative of renewal. In Japan, the Cherry blossom is also a symbol of beauty and is classed as the unofficial national flower.

Etymological Meaning

In Japan, cherry blossom trees are known as sakura, which refers to flowering ornamental cherries. The genus Prunus comes from plum or prune trees, which produce stone fruits. The Latin word ‘prunus‘ is derived from the Greek word ‘prounon‘.

Cherry Blossom in Japan

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Cherry Blossom

Cherry blossoms are beloved for their beautiful but short-lived blooms. This creates a poignant reflection on mortality and the temporary nature of life. In Japan, the cherry blossom symbolizes a Shinto concept known as ‘mono no aware‘ – the beauty of impermanence.

Cherry blossom is synonymous with Japan, so much so that sakura is considered Japan’s unofficial national flower. Cherry blossoms also symbolize beauty due to their stunning pink and white flowers. When cherry blossoms appear en masse, they’re also considered to represent clouds.

The Japanese concept of’ natsukashi’, which focuses on the temporary nature of cherry blossoms, refers to a type of joyful but wistful nostalgia for things or times that we cannot return to. Like the fleeting cherry blossom, we’ll never experience those times again – making them even more meaningful.

Significance of Cherry Blossom in China

China also has strong associations with cherry blossom, with several native species of its own. In Chinese culture, cherry blossoms embody beauty, love, and sexuality. Cherry blossoms can also symbolize power and strength in women and are a potent symbol of female dominance.

The Meaning of Common Cherry Blossom Colors

The Meaning of Common Cherry Blossom Colors

Cherry blossoms usually emerge as stunning pink or white flowers. Both colors have several meanings, so let’s delve deeper into them.

Pink Cherry Blossom Flowers

Pink flowers like cherry blossoms are frequently associated with qualities like love and affection. Rather than purely romantic affection, pink flowers can also symbolize love for our friends and family. In Japan, pink flowers are associated with masculinity, particularly during the samurai period. Pink flowers are also sometimes linked to good health in Japanese culture.

White Cherry Blossom Flowers

White flowers have symbolic meaning in many cultures. In Western symbolism, white flowers are linked to innocence and purity. This creates obvious associations with weddings, and white flowers often feature prominently in most marriage ceremonies.

White flowers can also represent hope and rebirth. This ties in with cherry blossoms, which are seen as a traditional herald of spring. This season has been associated with rebirth and renewal for centuries.

In many Eastern cultures, white flowers are linked to death and are used in traditional mourning. Cherry blossoms reflect the impermanence of life and our inevitable mortality.

Cherry Blossom in Hanakotoba

Cherry Blossom in Hanakotoba

Many cultures worldwide have their own version of floriography – commonly known as the ‘language of flowers’. Floriography uses flowers to convey particular meanings or messages, especially when given as gifts. Japanese flower language is known as hanakotoba.

Cherry blossom, or sakura as it’s known in Japan, has a range of meanings in hanakotoba. It may refer to qualities like kindness and being gentle. As a message, sakura communicates that someone is a ‘beautiful soul’ or ‘beautiful woman’. 

Hanakotoba also sees cherry blossoms as symbolic of mortality and the transient nature of life. Specific varieties of cherry blossoms also embody qualities like exceptional beauty, elegance, and refinement.

Cherry blossoms can also be seen in Ikebana – the Japanese art of flower arranging.  

Seasonal Meaning of Cherry Blossom

Cherry blossoms bloom in spring, usually from late March to early May. As such, cherry blossoms are believed to represent rebirth and renewal – qualities traditionally associated with spring. The cherry blossom season coincides with graduation in Japanese schools – a time synonymous with new beginnings.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Cherry Blossoms

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossom is appreciated worldwide for its stunning beauty and fragility. The gift of cherry blossom is always likely to be well received but is particularly suited for a few occasions.

In hanakotoba, cherry blossoms identify someone as a ‘beautiful soul’ or a ‘beautiful woman’. Pink cherry blossoms can be symbols of both platonic and romantic affection. This means a pink cherry blossom is an ideal gift for someone you care about, particularly a female partner.

White cherry blossoms can be associated with purity and innocence, making them a great choice as wedding flowers. What’s more, cherry blossoms also make beautiful spring gifts when they’re at their best.

Cherry Blossom Meaning FAQs:

What do cherry blossom flowers symbolize?

Cherry blossoms symbolize our fleeting mortality and life’s beautiful but impermanent nature. They are considered to be Japan’s unofficial national flower and also represent beauty.

Do cherry blossoms symbolize love?

In Chinese culture, cherry blossoms are believed to represent love. In Japanese hanakotoba is also used to identify someone as a ‘beautiful soul’.

Do cherry blossoms come back every year?

Ornamental cherry trees flower every year, producing fleeting cherry blossoms from late March to early May.

How long do cherry blossoms last?

Cherry blossoms don’t last long once they bloom. These trees typically only bloom once the flowers emerge for one or two weeks.

Is cherry blossom toxic?

Cherry blossoms are toxic to cats and dogs, while the seeds and leaves can also be toxic to humans.

Cherry Blossom Meaning – The Final Word

The beautiful cherry blossom is one of the most treasured flowers in the world. These gorgeous pink and white flowers only bloom for a short period. Therefore, cherry blossom is a poignant metaphor for our mortality and the beautiful but impermanent nature of life. Cherry blossoms symbolize love, strength, affection for friends, and innocence.


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