This month’s Life in Colour theme of Pink was perfectly timed for sakura season. Otherwise known as cherry blossoms, sakura are the flowers of the genus Prunus trees. For a couple weeks at the beginning of each spring, cherry blossoms bloom into clouds of pink and white.
Those who have been lucky enough to visit Japan during sakura season will know about hanami, the tradition of cherry blossom flower viewing. The practice of hanami dates back to the Nara period (710-794) and is rooted in the metaphorical meanings attributed to sakura. Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness, and living in the present, sakura symbolize the fleeting nature of life. Just as human existence is transient, sakura bloom and flourish into vibrant flowers, only to fall from their trees and end their life cycle a short time later.
Cherry blossom trees have spread around the world far beyond Japan. In Toronto, Canada, there are several spots around the city for viewing these delicate blooms starting around late April every year. The most popular destination is undoubtedly High Park, although this experience has become tarred in recent years by the destructive behaviour of crowds seeking out their highly coveted Instagram photos. During these unusual times, the sakura trees in High Park have actually been blocked off in lieu of a BloomCam for virtual viewing.
For a more undisturbed experience, I recommend taking a stroll around the University of Toronto St. George campus, where you can find a small area of sakura beside Robarts Library.