The sakura flower, also known as a Japanese cherry blossom, is the national flower of Japan. The blooming of these delicate pink and white blossoms occurs around the end of March or beginning of April and signifies spring's arrival, triggering a nationwide celebration for the Japanese people.
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The start of the sakura cherry blossom season coincides with the onset of Japan's calendar and financial years, which means a new beginning for the Japanese people. Students attend the first day of the school year and new employees begin the first day on the job.
In China, sakura blossoms symbolise feminine beauty and female sexuality and dominance, according to the University of Washington. In Chinese herb lore, they represent love and passion.
The beauty of a sakura cherry blossom is transitory---the short blooming season lasts for about one week---and the Japanese associate this brief blossoming period with life's fleeting presence. Throughout World War II, Japanese fighter pilots, whose lives were sacrificed during suicide attacks against the enemy, painted sakura flowers on their planes to signify premature loss of life.
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