Why Japanese Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Is Beautiful

The Hachijo Royal Hotel, said to be the most beautiful ruined hotel in Japan.

The most beautiful abandoned hotel in Japan: Hachijo Royal Hotel

Rusted steel frames, faded curtains fluttering out of broken windows, tableware scattered on the floor. Ruined factories, hotels, restaurants, etc. in deserted towns are just shown, sometimes even without any narration or subtitles. Such YouTube videos are popular in Japan recently. In fact, I often enjoy them. You may think I want to see scary things, but it’s not like that.

According to Malcom Turvey, a British professor of film studies, “Horror is a genre in which disgust is central as an emotion.” He continued “A lot of monsters are designed to be explicitly or implicitly disgusting.” In that sense, our interest in ruins is completely different from that in horror movies. Japanese people see the beauty even in things decaying away. I believe this way of thinking originates from Japanese aesthetics.

Japanese way to enjoy Sakura

Sakura, cherry blossom is one of the Japanese national flowers (another one is chrysanthemum, which is used as the crest of the Emperor, for your information). Japanese people are a kind of addicted to sakura. As most of you may know, cherry-blossom viewing is the most important seasonal tradition in Japan (in spring). It is so important that the elderly often say “How many more times can I see cherry blossoms before I die?” Indeed, cherry blossoms are really beautiful, but it’s not only flowers in full bloom that touches our heartstrings. We also cherish the scene where flower petals are falling. Moreover, even a single piece of cherry blossom petal floated in a puddle attracts us, rather than flowers blooming on trees.

A beautiful huge wooden table with five chairs on each side

Beauty in transient and imperfect things

Why are Japanese aesthetics like this? I personally think it’s closely related to the natural environment of our country. As I wrote in last article, Japan is the island country prone to a lot of natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, etc. In such a harsh environment, with a feeling of powerlessness before nature, we have no other choice but to accept reality: we’re a part of nature, and death is a part of life. This is the reason why we find beauty in transient and imperfect things. And also, this is the reason why we Japanese like sakura so much because sakura flowers disperse quickly.

Our furniture is made of wood. Each wood piece has its unique characteristics, and is liable to change by aging. In the sense of Japanese aesthetics, wooden furniture with uneven characters is regarded as beautiful.

A corporate logo, the letters of C and H are combined to look like a tree in a circle

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.