18In a celebrated painting by artist Gakutei Yashima from the year 1817, a sake bottle, sake cup and cherry blossoms create a picturesque, tranquil still life. In later years, depictions of the cherry blossom were widely used to inspire patriotism among the general populace, symbolizing the intensity and evanescence of life and the sacrifice of youth. The sakura is also used in traditional tattoo art as well as a mascot for, among other events, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Flower viewing as a pastime was first observed in the imperial court in the Nara Period (710 - 794), then in the samurai class, and in the Edo Period among commoners. It is recorded as having been held as a kind of entertainment as early as Third Century A. D.Cherry blossoms are a prominent design theme for many of Tokyo's various manholes. Those pictured show common designs dotting the roads and alleyways of Minato Ward in the center of the capital. The national flower of Japan, there are some 200 major varieties of cherry blossoms, with the somei yoshino, or prunus yedoensis, the most widely found and perhaps the most beloved. Other beautiful varieties found everywhere throughout the country are the yamazakura wild hill cherry; the often breath-taking shidarezakura, or weeping cherry; and the yaezakura, or double flowered cherry.

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