桜は国花といわれるほど日本人に愛されてきた。800年代にはすでに書物にも登場し、桜を愛でる文化が生まれた。宮廷や貴族が花宴として桜の花を用いて観賞しながら詩歌管弦を楽しむ宴を催した。それは日本独自の国風文化の始まりとも言われる。1300年代の室町時代になると庶民文化の発展にともない桜文化は広く一般に浸透していった。 1800年代後半の明治維新のころになると桜は日本中に一斉に植樹された。開国という急激な社会変化の中で世界を意識するほど日本人の精神統合が必要だったのだ。1900年代、第一次、第二次大戦時代は一斉に咲いて一気に散る様子から、命を惜しまず潔い生きかたを美徳とする軍人の象徴とされた。そして現代においても桜は日本人の精神の象徴であり続ける。西行や芭蕉ら古人は日本人独特の美意識や「詫び寂び」の精神を桜に重ね和歌にして私たちへ残してきた。



herry blossoms, which is regarded as a Japanese national flower, has been loved by Japanese people from ancient times. This element was already appeared in the books in 800s. Admiring cherry blossom has become the culture of Japan.Court aristocrats and noble people enjoyed a cherry blossom viewing party with songs and Japanese orchestra. It is the beginning of Japanese original national culture. In 1300s, during the Muromachi era, cherry blossom viewing culture became widespread into common people with the development and improvement of their daily lives. In the late of 1800s, at the time of Meiji restoration, cherry blossoms had been planted one after another all over Japan. In the rapid social changing as opening the country to the world, we needed to unite against foreign countries as Japanese. And during the World War I and II in 1900s, the cherry blossoms became a symbol of the military virtue of which they live gracefully and never be scared of death. Soldiers portrayed themselves as the life of the blossoms. Now they have still been the symbol of our spirits.Some of Japanese famous people in history showed their feelings as the aesthetic value and the impermanence to cherry blossoms in Japanese poetry called waka.
Here are some of the poetries:

Negawakuba/ Sakura no Shitanite/ harushinan/ Sonokisaragi no /mochiduki no koro
願わくば桜の下にて春死なん その如月の望月の頃  西行
Let me die in spring
under the blossoming trees
Let it be around
that full moon of
ofKisaragi month
(translated by Burton Watson)
*kisaragi month is the second month of lunar year in Japan.

Shikisimano/ yamatogokorowo//hitotohaba/ asahininiou/yamasakurahana
敷島の大和心を人とはば朝日に匂う山桜花  本居宣長
If I am asked about the meaning of yamato-gokoro(Japanese spirit)
I will answer it is the blossoms of yamazakura(mountain cherry blossoms)
Shining in the rising sun
(translated by unknown)

I was strongly impressed by those waka. I think it is because I have admiration to the way of life of the blossoms deep in my heart as ancient people had. I want to express the cherry-blossom-admiration-culture in my photographs, that we all might have in our hearts. That is my will to show the viewers that we have a strong bond between our long history and the cherry blossoms.

-Hiroaki Hasumi