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A cherry blossom is a flower of several trees of genus Prunus. All varieties of cherry blossom trees produce small, unpalatable fruit or edible cherries. Edible cherries generally come from cultivars of the related species Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus. The custom is said to have started during the Nara period — , when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning, but by the Heian period — cherry blossoms came to attract more attention, and hanami was synonymous with sakura. The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period , to the common people as well. Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this. Under the sakura trees, people had lunch and drank sake in cheerful feasts. Every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the sakura zensen cherry blossom front as it moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather via nightly forecasts following the weather segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January, and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April.
Please refresh the page and retry. T hey are swooned over during picnics. They are painstakingly painted. They are obsessed over in poems. They are cited as a symbol of the transient nature of life. And they are sprinkled on Starbucks lattes. It is impossible to think of springtime Japan without an iconic image of a sea of cherry trees awash with perfect pink blooms instantly coming to mind.