To give you an idea of how much a cherry blossom tattoo would impress the Japanese public, you need to learn about hanami. Hanami refers to the celebration and viewing of beautiful flower blossoms - more specifically, cherry blossom. It is celebrated in the form of flower viewing parties where hundreds of people gather together, ostensibly to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms en masse.
However, many people agree that the actual party has superseded the flower viewing, at least for the majority of revellers. Still, hanami continues to be an important event for people in Japan. The cherry blossom tattoo design has been around for several centuries, and will undoubtedly continue to be important for many centuries to come.
Although the specific sakura zensen varies from one year to the next, it tends to follow a somewhat predictable pattern. Cherry blossoms in Japan bloom from the south to the north. In other words, the first blossoms occur in the southernmost part of the country; the last ones bloom in the northernmost part. This pattern is repeated in the demand for cherry blossom body art.
Cherry blossom season happens from January to early May. The first cherry blossoms occur in Okinawa in January; they happen in Tokyo and Kyoto near the end of March. So this tends to show an increase in demand for cherry blossom tattoo designs from studios all across Japan. All the while, excited Japanese citizens plan and attend hanami events where they socialize and have fun - and appreciate the delicate beauty of the cherry blossoms.
Cherry Blossoms and Mono No Aware The concept of "mono no aware" first came into being during the eighteenth century; since then, it's become closely associated with cherry blossoms and cherry blossom tattoos. "Mono no aware" means, approximately, "the pathos of things." It refers to having empathy for things and of being aware of their transience.
Mono no aware has had a dramatic influence on all forms of Japanese culture, with the bittersweet sadness that it evokes playing a major role in everything from anime to literature to films to tattoo designs. Some people refer to the concept as the "ahh-ness of things," since the "aware" portion of the idea refers to "oohs" and "aahs."
Without growing up around it, understanding mono no aware can be difficult. However, exploring its ties to cherry blossoms makes understanding it a little bit easier. By their very nature, cherry blossoms are extremely beautiful - and extremely fleeting unlike the permanence of a tattoo image.
Cherry Blossom as Symbolism
There are a lot of good reasons for using cherry blossoms in artwork designs and tattoo symbols. Over and above their beauty and aesthetic appeal, the cherry blossom holds a huge amount of important symbolism and meaning. It's easy to get inspired when reading about concepts like mono no aware and other Japanese ideas - and it's just as easy to see why the cherry blossom has been inextricably linked to those concepts.
If the idea of flower watching parties and forecasts seems silly to you, try wandering around a grove of cherry trees when their blossoms are in full force. Chances are, you'll quickly see why the cherry blossom tattoo is so popular in Japan and indeed the rest of the world.
Sacrifice and Cherry Blossom
During World War II, the cherry blossom was used to help spur nationalism and to promote the cohesiveness of the people of Japan. Many of the young men who undertook suicide missions painted cherry blossoms on their fighter jets. In fact, the falling blossoms of the cherry tree were likened to these brave, dedicated young men. Therefore, a cherry blossom tattoo can represent sacrifice if you think about them the right way. The Japanese hold so much reverence for these lovely petals and tattoo designs.
The brief, vibrant life of cherry blossoms can be likened to mortality - and often is. Whereas a cherry blossom tattoo is a permanent image and lasts a lifetime. The wistful, bittersweet acknowledgement that such gorgeous blooms are so fleeting is very similar to the concept of mono no aware. Being in tune with the idea and appreciating that beauty when it arrives, as in the form of hatami - is a central part of Japanese culture.