Japan’s National flower is the Cherry Blossom, which is also known as the Sakura in Japanese. It welcomes the arrival of Spring each year and is a symbol of renewal and hope. An interesting fact about Cherry Blossoms and Japenese culture is that during cherry blossom season you’ll often see people having picnics underneath the cherry blossom trees. This is called “hanami” or “flower viewing” and it’s a custom that dates back many centuries. Japan is home to over 200 different varieties of cherry blossom, the most popular being the “Somei Yoshino”.
"Hanami" is the centuries-old practice of drinking under a blooming sakura or ume tree. The custom is said to have started during the Nara period (710–794) when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning, but by the Heian period (794–1185) cherry blossoms came to attract more attention, and hanami was synonymous with sakura. From then on, in both waka and haiku, "flowers" (hana) meant cherry blossoms. The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well.