Cookie settings

We and our selected partners would like to use cookies or similar technologies to collect information about you for statistical, functional and marketing purposes.

Cherry Blossom Tattoos: The Legend of Sakura

Cherry Blossom Tattoos: The Legend of Sakura
Tattoo Ideas3 min Read

A reminder of transience, cherry blossom tattoos are a wonderful floral symbol that imbues love, beauty and the passing of time.

Perhaps the most romanticized image of the floating world, cherry blossom tattoos speak to so many aspects of life...and although there are many genus of these trees, most well known is the Japanese cherry, Prunus serrulata, often called sakura. The symbolism and beauty of these flowers is what draws us to them...they bring us into the moment, the here and now, and remind us of how wonderful nature can be. Although these florals are considered to be the national flower of Japan, the cherry blossom tree is actually spread widely across many countries...even Central Park in New York is known for their wonderful collection of these plants.

Cherry blossom tattoos are a metaphor for the transience of life because they do not live for very long. Like the Chairman said in Memoirs of a Geisha, while standing under a cloud of petals and pink blooms, "You have to savor life when you can." The trees flower for up to two weeks under ideal conditions, but the perfect time to view them only lasts from four to seven days. This ephemeral quality of their being is close to the Japanese culture because of their Buddhist and Shinto foundations. Being in the moment, celebrating life in its most perfect, but passing, forms, and a reverence for nature are all important aspect to Buddhists and those who practice Shintoism, and these concepts have been integrated into this particular flower.

As you may know, cherry blossom viewing in Japan is a long held tradition...but what you may not know is that there is something that also goes along with the festivities: drinking. If you haven't ever sat under these burgeoning branches of blooms, breathing in the fresh spring air, and admiring the perfect petals whilst sipping on a delicious rosé or white wine, we suggest you do this. In Japan, this tradition is called Hanami, and although it used to only be reserved for royalty and courtiers, over the centuries it has become something that all people can enjoy. "Hanami festivals celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom and for many are a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful view. The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan. The eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century AD."

It is partly things like the history of these flowers that makes cherry blossom tattoos so incredibly powerful. Their beauty and poetic grace is enough to send you into a delightful trance that brings peace and tranquility. The Japanese also have stories and folktales that tell of this tree..."One of the most famous cherry tree myths is that of the Uba-zakura, or Milk Nurse Cherry Tree. It was said to blossom on the anniversary of the death of a devoted wet nurse who gave her soul (and life) to save a child she cared for. She lives on in the form of this tree...

Another ancient cherry tree tale concerns the ghost of a lonely samurai. In the district of Wakegori dwelled an elderly samurai who had outlived his children and all of his other loved ones. As he grew older and lonelier, his only comfort was the ancient cherry tree in his garden. He had played under this tree as a child, and it had been in his family for generations. One summer, the tree, too, died. The samurai grew more despondent, and on the 16th day of the next January he committed hara-kiri beneath the tree. His ghost entered the tree and made it bloom, and every year since, it is said to bloom again on January 16." Pretty powerful stuff to have been inspired by a simple small flower! But we think tattoos are great when they mean beautiful things...

Click here for more cherry blossom tattoo ideas...

Written byTattoodo

A curated collection of counter culture. Featuring the world's top artists. Show us yours.