Alicia’s Nature Field Note: Japan’s Beautiful Cherry Trees

Title: Japan’s Beautiful Cherry Trees

Abstract: The cherry blossoms on Japan’s cherry trees have been a symbol of Japan for a long time. These trees can be found all over the country and are important to the Japanese people. There are even delicious foods and fun activities that use these trees!

Introduction: Imagine walking through a field full of big trees covered in small pink flowers. Doesn’t it sound beautiful? This scene can be found all throughout Japan, from the rural fields to the urban cities.

These are Japan’s cherry trees. They are popular in Japan because of the cherry blossoms they produce, called sakura in Japanese. The trees bloom sometime between March and April. They are only in bloom for a little while, though!

One popular activity enjoyed in Japan involving the cherry trees is called Hanami, meaning “flower viewing.” People will bring a picnic blanket, food and drinks and sit underneath the beautiful trees. It’s a wonderful way to have a picnic.

An interesting fact about the cherry trees is that the Japanese people sometimes eat their leaves! Sakura mochi is a popular food to eat when the trees are in bloom. Sakura mochi has a pink-colored rice cake with red-bean paste inside and a sakura leaf folded over it on the outside. There is even Sakura ice cream! It tastes like cherry but has small pieces of sakura leaf mixed in.

The cherry tree is an important plant to the Japanese and is a big part of their culture.

What does this creature or plant look like?

Cherry blossom trees are usually very large with many branches. In the spring, hundreds of flowers on the tree will bloom. The colors of the flowers are usually pink, light pink or white. The flowers don’t last for very long. The petals will start to fall onto the ground. It sometimes looks like snow with all of the light-colored petals on the ground.

How did I feel when I saw it?

One of the reasons I wanted to go Japan in spring was to see the cherry blossoms. I heard that they would be so beautiful to see. I was very happy when I saw them. The flowers are so beautiful and there are so many of them. I saw a few in Hirakata City, where I am living in Japan. But when I was in Tokyo, I went to a large garden called Shinjuku Gyoen. There were so many beautiful cherry blossoms there. I also got to experience Hanami and ate some snacks with friends under a cherry tree. Some of the petals from the cherry blossoms even landed on me! I was sad when some of the trees I saw a week earlier had already lost all of its flowers and returned to looking like a regular tree.

Where does it live?

The cherry tree can be found all throughout Japan. I pass by many on the way to school each day. There are even cherry trees in the cold and snowy part of Japan called Hokkaido.

Did you know that cherry trees like the ones in Japan can be found in the United States? Many years ago, Japan gave the United States cherry trees as a symbol of their growing friendship. Some of the best places to see the cherry blossoms in bloom in the United States are Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Manhattan.

How does it use its environment to survive?

The cherry trees are able to survive in many different temperatures. There are cherry trees that can be found from the hot southern island of Okinawa to the cold northern island of Hokkaido. The flowers will bloom at different times depending on the environment. They will bloom sooner in the southern parts of Japan earlier because the weather is warm enough to have the flowers bloom. In the north, the flowers will come much later to wait for the temperature to warm up enough.

What can harm this creature? Are we worried about it?

We do not need to be worried about Japan’s cherry blossom trees. Even though they aren’t in many places in the United States, they are everywhere in Japan. They are not at risk of becoming endangered. They are even protected by law in the United States.

This ice cream has pieces of the cherry leaves mixed in!

This ice cream has pieces of the cherry leaves mixed in!

The sakuramochi's cherry leaf is salty, but the rice cake is sweet

The sakura mochi’s cherry leaf is salty but the cake is sweet

Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo had a beautiful garden with cherry trees

Shinjuku Gyoen

Look at how big this cherry blossom tree is!

Look at how big this cherry blossom tree is!

It was fun taking pictures with the cherry blossoms

It was fun taking pictures with the cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms come in different shades of pink and white

Cherry blossoms come in different shades of pink and white

A picnic is so much more beautiful under the cherry blossoms

A picnic is so much more beautiful under the cherry blossoms

A closeup of the small cherry blossoms

A closeup of the small cherry blossoms

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