The Japanese garden’s iconic flower blossoms represents the beauty and brevity of life.

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Hundreds of people gathered today in Hasselt’s Japanese garden, to picnic under blooming cherry blossom trees during the annual flower-viewing celebration.

Every spring a tapestry of pink blooms blankets the Japanese garden of Hasselt. Cherry blossom trees symbolise the evanescence of human life in Japanese culture — their blooms are both brilliant and brief.

We spent the day underneath the fleeting bloom. The cherry blossom serve as a visual reminder of how precious and how precarious life is.

 

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These spring celebrations date back to when Japanese emperors held viewing parties with their courts. Folklore narrates that the mountain deity traveled to rice paddies on floating cherry blossom petals and blessed the crop. So a long bloom equaled a fruitful harvest. Because of this relationship to rice the tree was regarded as sacred as it sustained human life.

Cherry blossom decorations :

  • the armour of samurai
  • the elaborately folded hairstyles of geisha
  • the scrolls of poets
The symbolism behind Japan’s most iconic flower is complex and mutable. The cherry blossom’s meaning evolved as the country underwent internal and external transformation.

Falling petals, a quotidian symbol of birth, death, and rebirth—transformed into a nationalist icon during Japanese colonial expansion.

Today over 200 species of cherry blossom trees cloak the archipelago of Japan. Though they’ve carried different meanings throughout the ages, they continue to bring communities together year after year under a common one: to celebrate Japan’s most beloved flower.

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Clouds of pink.

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Pink petals blanket the surface of the lake.

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Next time you see a cherry tree in bloom I invite you to pause for a moment.

 

— Hasselt, Belgium (April, 2017)

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