April 5, 2022

Sakura – Cherry Blossoms Japanese Vocabulary


Japanese people enjoying Hanami

Let's start with the above 花見 hanami. It means "flower viewing" or literally "flower see" and refers to the gathering of friends and coworkers under a blooming tree to drink, chat, and enjoy the scenery.  

花見 is a very old custom, going back perhaps as far as the Nara period (710-794).


Sakura. Cherry blossoms. Want to learn the traditional Japanese song? Click here to hear Yumi sing it.

Our cat's name is Sakura. Here's a photo I took last week of her contemplating the もののあわれ (the fleeting pathos of things) of this year's cherry blossoms.


Look at the kanji:


It's an image of a woman 女 sitting under a tree 木 while the blossoms fall upon her. Oftentimes, kanji is beautiful (and easy to remember) like that.


Falling cherry blossoms. Literally, "花 (flower) + 吹雪 (blizzard; snow storm)"

When I was younger and less mature, I would turn to Yumi and say, 「失礼【しつれい】。ちょっと花吹雪します!」 and then proceed to blow my nose.

はな, you see, can mean 花 (flower) or 鼻 (nose).

Yumi told me that kind of ruined the beauty of the word 花吹雪 for her. It's a wonder she has stuck with me for all these years (we married in 1999!).

I should also apologize for ruining your day. 申【もう】し訳【わけ】ございません。


The most common species of cherry trees is called ソメイヨシノ. As many as 80% of all cherry blossom trees in Japan are this variety. It is said nearly all of these trees are clones from one or two original trees dating from the Edo period.

If you are a Makoto+ member, you can read about this here. If you want more, pick up our Sightseeing in Japan bundle here.

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