The Japanese have sakura season down to a science complete with forecast calendars down to the day they will be ready to view. The cherry blossom has a storied past. Because of the stunning beauty and quick death, they are often associated with mortality and death. The flower representation of the samurai for being the first to arrive and the first to die.
In WWII, the sakura was used as propaganda to motivate the Japanese people. Cherry blossom images were often painted on planes or carried by Japanese soldiers on missions.
The image is immortalized on the 100 yen coin. Washington D.C. displays thousands of sakura trees that were gifts over the last century from the Japanese people.
In today's environment hanami is a time of celebration. Families will come together to view the blossoms. Coworkers will take an afternoon off to enjoy the quick-living blossoms. Often hanami celebrations include a picnic.
Recently my office had a hanami party. We brought a potluck picnic to the Kintai park and enjoyed the sakura.
The pictures really do not do the experience justice. The fragrant smell, the encompassing trees, the slight breeze... all make hanami a fantastic experience.