The Magic of Falling Petals

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Cherry blossoms en masse look like white-pink clouds, just below the campus of Seoul National University
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A pond on SNU campus
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Cherry blossom petals like snow on the sidewalk

The Magic of Falling Petals (here, in Korea)

Cherry blossoms are beloved around the world, but especially in Japan, China and Korea, where they have special meaning and significance, besides being beautiful and attracting visitors.

Cherry trees seem like clouds as they bloom en masse, and look like a canopy of soft color when one walks under them. Soft and velvety petals cascade from the swaying trees, drifting down slowly, like the first soft snow flakes of winter.

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Petals caught on rocks in a stream
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On the sidewalk
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Cherry blossom and forsythia petals in the stream

The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. For the Japanese, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is beautiful but that it is also tragically short. When the cherry blossom trees bloom for a short time each year, they are a visual reminder of how precious and how precarious life is. So, when Japanese people come together to view the cherry blossom trees and marvel at their beauty, they aren’t just thinking about the flowers themselves, but also about the larger meaning and deep cultural tradition of the cherry blossom tree. I will write more about cherry blossoms in Japan and post pictures at a later date.

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So beautiful caught on the rocks

The cherry blossom is the most prominent spring blossom in Korea, but is not as central to the culture as it is in Japan. However, the Korean people do also love to view the cherry blossoms and there are a number of cherry blossom festivals. In fact, in Korea sakura, used as a loanword, is the most common way to refer to the flower (the Korean word is beot-kkot), and the activity of blossom viewing also uses the loanword hanami (the Korean word is kkot-gugyeong).

Above and here are a few fun photos of cherry blossom petals, and other petals, that have driftedstream4into a small stream on the campus of Seoul National University. They look beautiful, but are also a reminder of the fragility and short life of these wonderful spring flowers.

I found a very nice blog post about cherry blossoms in Seoul, if you are interested https://ourmaninkorea.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/cherry-blossoms-in-seoul/

 

Spring in Seoul

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campus2Part 1: On the campus of Seoul National University

Spring in Seoul (and no doubt other parts of South Korea) is a delightful time, especially for lovers of flowers and nature. It’s an explosion of colors, a riot of gorgeous blossoms of many kinds. We love spring in our town in Illinois, but somehow the flowering trees and the blooming shrubs in Seoul seemed to stand out more—perhaps because it’s a huge urban area, with so much concrete and many closely-clustered apartment blocks; while our town is less densely-populated and has many tree-lined avenues, so the contrast in spring in Seoul is much more obvious.

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A sea, or billowing cloud, of cherry blossoms, looking out the lab

We were living on the campus of Seoul National University, south of the Han River. The campus was really gorgeous in April. Really noticeable were many cherry trees—white or very make pink— all across campus, and even more in the valley below—so many that looking down on them was like seeing a white cloud of blossoms below.

On campus and all across the city we also marveled at the bright azalea bushes, sometimes grouped in a single color but sometimes bushes of multiple colors all mixed together into a colorful whole.

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Cherry blossom petals caught on rocks in a small stream. Stunning!

Add yellow forsythia bushes, huge peonies, mixed flower beds and we get a floral paradise.

Here are just a few photos from our spring in Seoul—we took so many it was hard to choose! But, they give an idea of the gorgeous blooms and why we were so excited.

This first selection is on the campus of Seoul National University and many shots are of the prolific cherry trees.