For over ten centuries, hundreds of cherry trees have erupted with thousands of pale pink blooms to announce the arrival of spring in Japan. The first flowers have single petals that are succeeded by heavenly double-petaled blossoms. When soft spring breezes blow, the petals fall like rose-colored snowflakes to the ground.
The festival lasts for a month, approximately from March 20th though April 20th. Flower viewing begins as early as 8 AM and continues throughout the day. As the days progress, people have parties and dress in costumes. The season is short, from the first flower to bloom to peak blossoms on a tree is a week and just a week later the blossoms are falling to the ground. But if one follows the path of the sun across Japan, they can watch the various blooms for month or more.
The cherry blossom, the national flower, may be found in prints, furniture design, and on kimonos. The cherry wood, a deep, dark lustrous wood, is used for making all types of furniture (both practical and decorative). The blossoms are picked and preserved in salt. They are then used for making the drink known as akura-yu or cherry water.