"Sakura" is the Japanese name for the Japanese cherry tree. It flowers for a few brief weeks in early to mid-spring. The sakura flower has a delicate pink-white color and a distinctive five-pointed blossom, and shows up in various types of literary and visual symbolism in Japan.

Since the period of bloom is so brief for these trees, they are associated with the transient nature of life. Samurai found the sakura an inspiration to conquer the fear of death, since by its very nature the sakura's time of glory is brief, but ah, what glory it is.

During those short weeks in which entire parks are splendorously dressed in pink and white by the falling petals, there is a particular type of pastime many Japanese indulge in - the "hanami".

Sakura is also a Japanese given name for both boys and girls, and appears in surnames such as "Sakurai" and "Sakuraba".

In the Street Fighter series of Fighter Games, Sakura is a teenaged High School girl whose idol is Ryu. So she follows him around the world, getting into incredibly dangerous situations for no good reason. Noted for having bright red panties that she flashes at the player at every concievable occasion. Very fast. A Shoto.

Japanese manufacturer of excellent writing instruments and art supplies, popular with both stationery addicts and artists. Their Gelly Roll pen is currently quite trendy, but their brush pens and such have enjoyed a high reputation among art geeks for many years. Their logo/corporate mark is a traditional stylized cherry blossom image of the kind found in Japan for centuries.

Sakura products are staggering in their variety. Gelly Rolls can be found at almost any store at the moment; art supply stores and hobby stores will carry a wider variety, and Kinokuniya Stationery carries more Sakura pens than imaginable.

The Sakura American headquarters is in Hayward, CA. I'll have to make a pilgrimage there someday.
Because the cherry blossoms and the Hanami festival are so important to the Japanese, they bred the trees to have as many blossoms as possible, resulting in a truly splendid display when they bloom - you literally can't see the tree for the blossoms.

However, this breeding had a weird side effect: the trees are barren, because they have so many blossoms that if they did bear fruit, the branches couldn't support the weight and would snap. Thus, even though the country is chock full of cherry trees, cherries (like most fruit) are an expensive luxury.

"Sakura" is also a traditional song from Japan, often accompanied/soloed by the koto or biwa. Bon Jovi sampled the song for the opening of "Tokyo Road." The lyrics in Japanese are:

Sakura, sakura
Yayoi no sora wa
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Nioi o izuru
Izaya, izaya
Mi ni yukan

Sakura, sakura
Noyama mo sato mo
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Asahi ni niou

Sakura, sakura
Hana zakari

A rough translation in English:

Cherry trees, cherry trees
Across the March sky
As far as I can see
Like mist or cloud
The fragrance flows
Let's go now, let's go now
Let's go and see them

Cherry trees, cherry trees
From the mountains to the valleys
As far as I can see
Like mist or cloud
Perfuming the morning sun

Cherry trees, cherry trees
Flowers in full bloom

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