Cherry Blossom Meaning and Symbolism (Hope & Peace)

Springtime would always come to mind when speaking about Cherry Blossoms.

The appearance of these small, beautiful flowers heralds the changing of the season. It symbolizes renewal and rebirth, as winter ends and the world starts to warm up again.

cherry blossom symbolism

However, these flowers live a very short life.  After blooming in full, they can only last for two weeks before falling off, then appear again the following year.

Because of this, the flowers have also been associated with the transience of life.  It is an embodiment of being able to live in the moment because each moment is precious and may never last.

The trees from which the cherry blossoms bloom belong to the genus Prunus, which are mostly enjoyed for flowers rather than fruits.

Around the world, different species of Cherry Blossoms can be found, but they are indigenous to (and are more famous in) Asian countries like China, Korea, and India. 

Of particular note is the popularity of the flowers in Japan as they are celebrated nationwide, with different local festivals held on the dates they are expected to be in full bloom.

Cherry Blossom Symbolism and Meanings

cherry blossoms

Because their life span is very short, Cherry Blossoms have become associated with living in the moment, and taking time to appreciate things as they are at present, and not always keep looking at the distant future that is bound to change.

Though short, the flowers bloom regularly every year when it is their time to do so, and thus, they also represent rebirth, new chances, and the start of another life.

The significance of the cherry blossoms has been spread and accepted in different parts of the world, but most of them can be traced back to Japan where it is widely recognized as the unofficial national flower.

1. Symbol of Hope, New Life, and New Beginnings

cherry blossom spiritual meaning

The meaning and symbolism of the Cherry Blossom is particularly pervasive in Japan.  Stories about the flowers are deeply rooted in the country’s history, where its existence is observed with a mix of delight and melancholy.

Its Japanese name “Sakura” is derived from the term “saku”, which means “to bloom”. 

There are many evidence of the Sakura’s influence in Japanese society through literature and works of art. One example is from the famous Japanese Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi, known as the father of the principle of “Kamikaze” or suicide air attacks, had written about the fleeting nature of the Sakura in one of his poems.

There are also paintings depicting the Sakura that have been traced as far back as the 1700s.  One artwork is by painter Kitao Shigemasa (1739–1820), titled “Yayoi or Sangatsu, Asukayama Hanami”, estimated to have been completed around 1772 to 1776. 

Another is the “Hanami-zuki”, believed to be painted sometime between 1785 and 1789 by artist Torii Kiyonaga (1752–1815).

Both artworks illustrate the “Hanami”, meaning “looking at flowers”, Japan’s thousand year old tradition of gathering together under the cherry blossom trees during blooming season.

This ritual is rooted in the Buddhist belief of “samsara”, or the continuous life cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Hanami is thus meant to remind them to live in the present and enjoy each experience in their present life, then they can move forward and live without regret while waiting for renewal or rebirth.

2. Symbol of Honor, Discipline, and Sacrifice

cherry blossom dream meaning

In wartime Japan, cherry blossoms have held deep significance, having links to the “bushido” of the Samurais, which translates to “way of the warrior”. 

These ancient warriors of feudal Japan used the flowers to represent discipline, honor, and respect, and as such, fallen blossoms were believed to symbolize the death of a Samurai.

A famous Japanese proverb summarizes this concept as “Hana wa sakuragi, hito wa bushi”, which translates to “The best blossom is the cherry blossom; the best man is the warrior.”  This belief was carried over by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, painting their warplanes with images of the cherry blossoms to signify their honor as they put their lives on the line for their country.

A planned suicide attack during this period was even called “Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night”, though it was never carried out.

3.  Symbol of Peace and Friendship

cherry blossom meaning

The flowers have also become a token of friendship and peaceful times, as Japan extended goodwill by gifting 3,000 Cherry Blossom trees to Washington in 1912.

In a symbolic moment, some of the trees were personally planted by then First Lady of America, Helen Terron Taft, and Viscountess Chinda Iwa , the wife of the Japanese ambassador at the time, in the West Potomac Park.

This event is commemorated every year with the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, when both locals and tourists would flock to the park to appreciate the flowers in full bloom.

Cherry Blossom in Dreams

cherry blossom flowers

Seeing cherry blossoms in dreams are happy signs, and could refer to developments in your career, finance, or love life, depending on your encounter with the flower.

  • Taking a picture of the flowers is a sign that you will soon hear goods news about you such as a vacation opportunity, or about someone close to you such as marriage or childbirth.
  • Seeing the cherry blossoms with another person means that you realize their importance.  If you were previously in a relationship, this could signify a reconciliation.
  • Petals falling down your path hint at an upcoming romance, such as a first meeting with a potential lover, or going on a first date.
  • Rows of cherry blossom indicate a string of lucky occasions such as success in business ventures, or getting your projects at work approved by your supervisor. A whole garden in full bloom means a prosperous period in your life is coming.

How to Interpret Spiritual Symbolism

Interpreting symbolism and spiritual meanings is subjective and deeply personal. The symbolic meanings listed in this article are examples of potential interpretations, but might not be true for your situation.

Make sure you meditate and journal about your vision. Reflect on what you saw and think about what message you think is relevant to you and your life right now.

This doesn’t mean choosing the message you want to hear, but the one you think you need to hear at this point in your life. Only you can decide which meaning is the right one for your situation.

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cherry blossom

Conclusion

Despite having a short life span, cherry blossoms bring significance and meaning in people’s lives that can last for a long time. During the small window of time that it blooms, it brings people together, improves relationships, and create new memories. 

While the passing of the flowers may bring sorrow, this is short-lived as well, because its departure is only temporary. When the year passes and Spring comes again, the blossoms will again make their appearance.

It reminds us that while some things have come to an end, it is not a reason to lose hope, because there will always be a new season, a new cycle, a fresh start, and people will have a chance to begin again.

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