For Japan there’s no season more beautiful than spring thanks to its large number of blossom trees that gradually blanket the country in blossom as it spreads northwards in a process they refer to as “sakura zensen.”
The explosion of pale pink petals is a euphoric sight to behold, but did you know there’s more to their splendour than meets the eye? The meaning of cherry blossoms in Japan runs deep, making the country’s national flower a cultural icon revered around the world not just for its overwhelming beauty, but for its enduring expression of life, death and renewal.
The arrival of the blossom is taken very seriously in Japan and each spring photographer Danilo Dungo spends his free time photographing Inokashira Park in Tokyo as the blossom slowly takes over. Gathered here are some of his most amazing shots taken over the last couple of years. You can see more on his National Geographic page.
He directs his DJI Phantom drone over Inokashira Koen, a popular public park, to secure his shots during the short season each March or April, when the trees bloom in bright pink.
Rendered small and distant, the cherry blossoms seem to erupt from the earth like fluorescent fireworks, nestled in clusters of ordinary greenery and lined up against the edges of the park’s central pond. In several of the series’ most dazzling images, the fallen petals form patterns on the surface of the water, carpeting the rippled currents in their rosy hue. In others, a glimpse of the golden sky at sunrise explains the quiet cast of gentle mist across the scenery.
Danilo was able to capture a very significant photo of the end of the blooming season of the cherry blossoms. Their petals had fallen from the branches onto the waters of a lake inside the park. With the waters becoming completely pink, it’s almost as if someone covered the lake in a carpet of cherry blossom petals.
Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present, Japanese cherry blossoms are a timeless metaphor for human existence. Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived — a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.
Why don’t we marvel at our own passing time on earth with the same joy and passion? Why do we neglect to revel in life when it can end at any moment, or in the grace surrounding us everywhere: our family, friends, a stranger’s smile, a child’s laugh, new flavours on our plate or the scent of green grass? It is time, cherry blossoms remind us, to pay attention.