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.