YAEZAKURA (八重桜): DOUBLE-FLOWERED CHERRY BLOSSOMS provide a second chance for HANAMI
By Avi Landau
In usual years they bloom a week or two after the most common variety of cherry blossom- the SOMEI YOSHINO- has fallen away, long after all the HANAMI (cherry-viewing party) revelry has ended and everyone is all tired out with what the Japanese call HANA TSUKARE- Cherry blossom exhaustion!
They are the various varieties of DOUBLE-FLOWERED* CHERRIES which as a group are called YAEZAKURA (EIGHT-LAYERED CHERRY BLOSSOMS) and which look much larger and heavier than their dainty and delicate, yet more celebrated relatives.
But because this year the SOMEI YOSHINO blossomed two weeks earlier than they normally do, and since the weekend weather during their blooming period was mostly cold and miserable limiting the opportunities for HANAMI parties, there are more people than usual out there savouring these big, round, highly fragrant, dark pink blossoms- I have even heard a rumor that next Sunday there will be a little HANAMI party under the big DOUBLE-FLOWERED CHERRY in front of the Onogawa Community Center
It is these big YAEZAKURA blossoms which are used to make the celebratory SAKURA YU (桜湯) tea which is served at weddings. I have explained how to salt the YAEZAKURA for making this beverage (and for other uses as well), in a previous TSUKUBLOG post:
As a haiku KIGO (seasonal key word) YAEZAKURA is used to indicate late spring:
which I render as:
The rays of sunlight
Feel a little bit warmer
(Yamaguchi Seishi, 1901-1994)
Historically YAEZAKURA have also sometimes been called SATOZAKURA (里桜) with the oldest know varoety being the FUGENZOU (フゲンゾウ)-scientific name Cerasus ×lannesiana Carriere, 1872 ‘Alborosea’ which has been known since the Muromachi Period (1336-1573).
I would like to emphasize the fact that YAEZAKURA is NOT a variety of cherry tree- it is a type of double flowered cherry of which there are several varieties, including KANZAN, YAEBENI SHIDARE, and the above mentioned FUGENZOH.
* Double-flowered flowers are those with multiple layers of petals. Some popular double-flowered flowers are varieties of roses,camellias, carnations, and peonies.