The Cherry Blossom’s Warrior Spirit

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Nicholas Nathan White, Writer

Japan is known for many things such as anime, sushi, bullet trains, and much more. But there is no doubt that one of Japan’s most treasured and beautiful features is the cherry blossom tree. And at the time of writing, this cherry blossom (Or Sakura in Japanese) mania is running wild as the beautiful pink trees are in full bloom! The dates for bloom of cherry blossoms is between late March to mid April but it can also stretch into early May! But what many do not know is that the cherry blossom has a bloody and brutal meaning as well that matches its amazing beauty.

The cherry blossom in Japan has the meaning of birth and death as well as beauty and violence. Showing that the Sakura tree holds the essences of Japan with both natural elegance and a warrior spirit to match. Its short bloom of amazing colors has been historically used as an analogy for the quick painful yet beautiful life of Samurai Japan’s most legendary and feared warriors. In fact, Kamikaze pilots- Japan’s notorious suicide squad from World War II – adorned themselves in symbols of the cherry blossom. These pilots would drink an alcohol called sake or rice wine and were given gifts such as medals and katanas, the legendary weapon of the samurai, as payment for their sacrifice for the glory of their empire. Kamikaze pilots wore the branches and flowers of the cherry blossom.

The comparison to death with the cherry blossom was most popular during the dark ages of Feudal Japan in which warring kingdoms fought for control, honor, and glory! These Samurai would rather live a short but vibrant life than a long but dull one such as the life of the cherry blossom.

This is not better observed than when the pink color of the tree dies and reverts back to its green state as to symbolize the death of the Samurai warrior whose whole life goal was to simply fight for the warrior code of Bushido. And when the pink of the cherry blossoms rise again it is as if a new warrior is born ready to live its short yet amazing life full of victory, honor, riches, and eventually death.