How would you describe the Japanese Blooming Sakura – ‘sakura’? A pretty pink flower? A sign of spring? A symbol of Japan? Although all these statements are true, they don’t quite paint the whole picture. It may be surprising to learn that “sakura” does not refer to a single type of flower, but to several types of “Blooming Sakura”! Read on as we tell you more about these fascinating flowers.

What color is the Japanese Blooming Sakura?

While all Blooming Sakura have some common characteristics, there are some striking differences within the Sakura family. If you take a closer look, you will notice differences in colour, shape, size and more. While most Japanese Blooming Sakura have a shade of light pink, they can be white, dark pink or even yellow!

 

In fact, Japan is home to over 200 Sakura varieties, including wild and cultivated plants. Here are some of the most common varieties of Blooming Sakura in Japan – see if you can discover them in the wild.

Blooming Sakura of Japan: A Preety Pink Flower
Blooming Sakura of Japan: A Preety Pink Flower

Somei Yoshino

This is the most commonly planted variety of the Sakura. They can be seen throughout Japan, the first Blooming season is in Kyushu and Shikoku at the end of March, the continuation of the flowers that can be seen in Tokyo at the end of April, and still in May in northern areas such as Aomori.

 

A uniflorous variety, each flower consists of only five petals. The colour is so pale pink that the flowers appear almost white. The flowers are bundled in bunches that open in front of the leaves of the tree.

 

When does Somei Yoshino Blooming Sakura flower in Tokyo?

Somei Yoshino Blooming Sakura starts Blooming in Tokyo in mid-April.

Yamazakura

Yamazakura takes first place among the most frequently seen wild Blooming Sakura. This Sakura, also known as hill cherry, is often found in the midst of the Japanese mountains. Like the Yoshino, these flowers also appear in light pink petals of five flowers.

Blooming Sakura of Japan: A Preety Pink Flower
Blooming Sakura of Japan: A Preety Pink Flower

When does the Yamazakura Blooming Sakura flower in Tokyo?

A special feature of the Yamazakura is that its flowers typically open at the same time as the leaves of the tree between March and April in the Kanto area.

Shidarezakura

The English name for this variety is the mourning cherry, and it is easy to understand why. The flowers on the characteristic hanging branches of the tree are the official flower of Kyoto Prefecture. These sakura flower quite early in the season, about a week before Somei Yoshino. The most famous Shidarezakura is the Miharu Takizakura (Miharu waterfall cherry tree) in Fukushima. This tree, which has been growing for over 1,000 years, is one of Japan’s five large cherry trees!

 

When does the weeping Blooming Sakura bloom in Tokyo?

In Tokyo, the weeping, Blooming Sakura tends to flower in early April.

Edohigan

Edohigan belong to the earliest Blooming Sakura. The name derives from its flower, which coincides with the Spring Equinox in Western Japan, known as the Higan. The petals of the small flower are pale pink and distinguish themselves by a round, swollen calyx.

 

Japan’s oldest known tree, the 2,000-year-old Yamataka Jindai Sakura, is an Edohigan: it blooms in Yamanashi sometime between early and mid-April.

Kanzan

Kanzan flowers fall under the classification of Yaezakura, or “double blossom” Sakura, which includes each Sakura with more than five petals per flower. Kanzan are particularly spectacular and show up to 50 petals per flower. These hearty, late Blooming flowers are easily recognised by their deep pink colour and voluminous racemes.

 

When does the Kanzan Blooming Sakura flower in Tokyo?

Kanzan Blooming Sakura usually opens in Tokyo in mid-April.

Ichiyou

The meaning of “Ichiyo” is “a leaf”. When these 20-40 petals are fully open, a single stamp (supposed to look a little like a leaf) protrudes from the center, hence the name. An abundance of inner white petals, wrapped in a light pink outer layer, gives this flower a subtle colour. Bright green leaves surround the sakura.

 

When is Ichiyou Blooming Sakura Blooming in Tokyo?

The flowers are so present in Asakusa that every year in April there is a festival dedicated to them.

Kanhizakura

The Blooming Sakura are not limited to the Japanese mainland; the warm south island Okinawa has its own Sakura. Kanhizakura may not look like the typical cherry blossom, but the distinctive Sakura is celebrated not only on the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, but also in Vietnam, China and Taiwan. The fuchsia flower is also known as Taiwan cherry, bellflower cherry or formosan cherry.

Blooming Sakura of Japan: A Preety Pink Flower
Blooming Sakura of Japan: A Preety Pink Flower

When does Kanhizakura Blooming Sakura flower in Tokyo?

These are some of the earliest Blooming Sakura, with some openings already in January.

 

Kikuzakura

The name of this flower means “chrysanthemum cherry blossom” because it resembles the beloved Japanese kiku (chrysanthemum). Kikuzakura can be recognized by its pompom appearance, surrounded by large leaves. Each flower has between 80 and 130 pale pink petals.

 

When does the Kikuzakura Blooming Sakura flower in Tokyo?

This variety flowers relatively late in the season; in the Tokyo area flowers are sometimes seen until early May.

Ukon

While the color of the Sakura typically falls somewhere along the spectrum of white and pink, Ukon Sakura with its yellow flowers is the exception to this rule. In Japanese, “ukon” is the word for turmeric, the spice that gives Indian curry its yellow color (and is also widely used in Japan as a hangover prevention agent).

 

Due to the strong similarity, these curry-coloured flowers also became known under the same name. This is another Yaezakura (double flower) variety, whose petals usually number between 15 and 20 per flower.

 

When does the Ukon Blooming Sakura flower in Tokyo?

It blooms at about the same time as the Ichiyou, usually in mid-April in Tokyo.

Fugenzou

The name of this unusual sakura has an even more unusual origin: in Japanese, the literal translation of Fugenzou is “Samantabhadra elephant”. This is a reference to the Bodhisattva, which is often depicted on an elephant in Buddhist works of art.

 

The people of the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) believed that the stamps of Fugenzou sakura resembled the image. This cherry blossom is characterised by its incredible number of petals (sometimes up to 40 per flower) and its serrated leaves. The colour is mainly pink, with a hint of red.

 

When does the Fugenzou Blooming Sakura flower in Tokyo?

Fugenzou is another late Blooming Sakura that typically reaches its peak in mid to late April in Tokyo.