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THE SAKURA CELEBRATE A GRACEFUL AND READY ACCEPTANCE OF DESTINY
IMPERIAL HOTEL PHOTO 01

In 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.

IMPERIAL HOTEL PHOTO 02

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.

IMPERIAL HOTEL PHOTO 03

This colorful woodblock print depicts the empress, a prince, and ladies of the court enjoying the cherry blossoms from a Western-style building in the precincts of Ueno Park in Tokyo. The women wear elaborate French-style day dresses, with cinched waists, high collars, and layers of heavy fabric over their bustles. During the Meiji Era, 1868 to 1912, the subject matter of traditional woodblock prints dramatically changed with the modernization of Tokyo by showing themes such as people dancing in Western clothing and new advances in architecture in public spaces. The government encouraged the people to believe that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms.

IMPERIAL HOTEL PHOTO 04

Stately Osaka Castle stands out vividly in the background of illuminated pale pink cherry blossoms along the ramparts of the castle in central Osaka. Guests at The Imperial in Osaka should also inquire about the best dates to view the truly extraordinary array of different and rare cherry blossoms lining the paths to the old Mint along the Okawa River, not far from the hotel. The nighttime views are nothing but enchanting. The concierge will be delighted to direct you. We suggest you take a bottle of hot sake and a blanket along with you, and dress warmly.

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Sheer beauty typifies the culmination of the cherry blossom season, when the petals are swept into the air by the breezes and create a kind of magnificent pink snowfall. By the Eighth Century, the word flowers in both classical waka and haiku poetry meant cherry blossoms. The delicate petals whirling in a breeze above a carpet of lush moss below are quintessential encounters of a unique Japanese sensibility.