The blossoms are blooming now in High Park.

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The Japanese flowering cherry, or “Sakura”, is a symbol of Japan. For centuries Japanese people have appreciated and praised the elegance and beauty of Sakura and expressed their delight in poems like Waka and Haiku, diaries, essays and stories. Sakura shows us the real arrival of spring, and it is a great joy for all Japanese to get together and appreciate it while and eating, drinking and chatting under the full blossom of Sakura.

In Japan, organizations and individuals donate Sakura to their friends abroad. Somei-yoshino, the most popular type of Sakura blooming beautifully every year in Toronto’s High Park, is one of the examples. It was donated by the City of Tokyo to the City of Toronto about 40 years ago in appreciation of Toronto accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Most of these trees, can be found on the west side of the park. Maps of High Park can be found on the City of Toronto website.

Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) has been a Japanese custom since the 7th century when the aristocrats enjoyed looking at beautiful sakura and wrote poems. There are over four hundred varieties of cherry trees in Japan.  Japanese cherry trees do not yield fruits like other cherry trees.

High Park is wonderful at this time of year. The mixed Carolinian forest with it’s stands of trees blending with Oak Savannah (a prairie grassland) is a sight to behold. Added to the abundant flora is the brief appearance of the magical cherry blossom.

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The cherry blossom blooms for a very short while each spring. The windier the spring the shorter the bloom.  During this time you will see people sitting under trees having a meal spending time with nature. Lots of Chinese, Korean and Japanese people like to gather with friends and families for little spring picnics under these beautiful blossoms. A true international spirit and culture are mixed with the vibrant of Toronto park life.

Picnicking under the flower-laden Sakura cherry trees of High Park is a greatly anticipated rite of spring for many Torontonians, a well-earned reward following winter’s long chill. There’s celebration in the air as crowds revel in the clouds of pink blossoms.

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