In Japan, sakura – the cherry blossoms – have many symbolic meanings:
Cherry blossoms, like spring itself, is a symbol of renewal. In Japanese culture, they stand for beauty, hope and new life. Every year the circle of life starts again and is at its most beautiful in spring when the trees are starting to become green and white, pink and yellow blossoms are found everywhere. The cherry blossoms are not just particularly beautiful, they are also very fragile. Their beauty is only short-lived: just a couple of weeks after the first hints of pink can be seen, the cherry trees are already losing their blossoms again. Hence, they are not just a symbol of renewal, but also remind us of the fleeting nature of life.
But not only the cherry blossoms remind us of the fragility of life. The cherry tree, in general, has only a quite short life span. Most only last about 16-20 years. But of course, there are exceptions to this rule: certain species have a much longer life expectancy. Black cherry trees, for example, can live up to 250 years.
Fun fact: The cherry blossoms and the leaves are edible and used in many traditional Japanese dishes like sweets or tea. You first have to pickle them before you can use them for making mochi cakes, candies or even cookies.