Flowering trees are some of the loveliest and most awaited arrivals of spring. While there are many different types of flowering trees, perhaps none are more iconic than the cherry blossom tree. This tree is beloved in Japan and is often associated with Japanese culture.
However, it does exist in other parts of the world. There are even cherry blossoms in the United States. These blooms make for gorgeous tattoos simply because of their natural beauty. We wouldn’t fault anyone who wants to get one purely for the look.
Even so, there are those for whom the meaning of a tattoo is just as important as its artistic depiction. Luckily, cherry blossoms are rich with symbolism, and there are many possible meanings that cherry blossom tattoos can be imbued with depending on the specific design.
Cherry Blossom Tattoo Meanings
If you love the look of these beautiful flowers but are searching for meaning, then search no further. We’ll explain the many things cherry blossoms can represent.
Brevity of Life
Cherry blossoms only bloom for about two weeks total, with each individual tree blooming for about a week. Basically, some trees bloom earlier and some bloom later, giving us two weeks to view their beautiful buds.
Because the flowers exist for such a brief period before falling to the ground, they are seen as a symbol of the brevity of life. This is widely understood by the Japanese, who take part in celebrations dedicated to viewing sakura, which is the Japanese term for cherry blossoms.
In fact, there are Shinto and Buddhist temples that host cherry blossom viewing events. Living each day in the present and understanding the transience of life is a pillar of Buddhist beliefs.
A tattoo of a cherry blossom could symbolize how precious life is, and that one should not take it for granted because it can be unexpectedly short.
Friendship and Community
As we mentioned, the Japanese celebrate the cherry blossom trees by gathering in groups to view them. It is a social event where friends and families gather under the trees to enjoy their beauty, often setting up blankets to lounge on and bringing food for picnics. This is known as hanami.
Hanami is just one way in which cherry blossoms bring people together. In 1912, Japan gifted the United States 3,000 sakura trees. This led to the United States hosting its own cherry blossom festivals (which still persist today) and was seen as a symbol of international friendship and peace.
If you value friendship and community, a cherry blossom tattoo may be perfect for you. You could even get matching sakura tattoos with a bestie to symbolize the deep bond of friendship between the two of you.
Cherry blossoms are quite romantic, and it’s common for couples to make dates to view the blossoms together in Japan. In fact, there’s even a common trope in many high school romance anime where the male and female lead, not yet dating, will have a special moment together under the sakura trees.
This trope of budding romance certainly goes hand in hand with the budding of the cherry blossoms, signifying a new beginning of love. Here in the real world, you’ll also find marriage proposals being made under cherry blossom trees.
A cherry blossom tattoo could represent the ideas of love and romance or be a symbol of your love for a specific someone. If you’re in love or you simply love the idea of love and want a beautiful tattoo celebrating it, a cherry blossom tattoo would be perfect for you.
During World War II, Japanese Kamikaze pilots wore sakura branches on their uniforms. Their planes had a single blossom painted on each side. These were a symbol of the pilots’ sacrifice to their emperor through their final flight.
Though you may not be giving up your life for an emperor, through this history, the idea of sacrifice is intertwined with the cherry blossom. Whether you have made sacrifices in your life or have gratitude for those that have sacrificed for you, a cherry blossom tattoo can be a beautiful way to represent this.
Because cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, they are seen as a sign of renewal. The plants and trees that have long been dormant renew themselves with vibrant colors. It is as if nature has started over.
You may vibe with a cherry blossom tattoo if you see every new day as a fresh start. Similarly, if you think it is important to renew yourself as a person from time to time, this tattoo may be for you.
Cycle of Life
Cherry blossoms (and other flowers) can represent the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In the spring they are born, blossoming beautifully. Shortly after, they “die” as their petals fall one by one to the ground until the blossom is no more.
Of course, the tree in itself is not dead at all, which is why the third stage, rebirth, is possible. Rebirth comes next spring when the flowers are born again, and this cycle continues over and over until the tree dies or is cut down.
Some people find spiritual meaning in the cherry blossom tattoo and its symbolism of the cycle of life. This tattoo can represent their belief in continuous cycles of rebirth, where humans are born again on earth after we die. For others, they may see this cycle as being born on earth, living and dying, and then being reborn into heaven or an afterlife.
Of course, your interpretation of the cherry blossom as a symbol of the life cycle does not have to be religious. You could also honor the cycle of life in regards to nature. Life of all different kinds — humans, plants, and animals — is born on earth, dies, and as it decomposes, is reborn in its contribution to other life.
It’s no surprise that cherry blossoms represent beauty. Anyone who has seen a cherry blossom tree could tell you as much. While many people might think that a tattoo that represents beauty would be vain, it doesn’t have to be.
Since cherry blossoms are flowers and part of nature, your cherry blossom tattoo could represent your reverence for the beauty of nature. Similarly, nature itself often goes hand in hand with life itself, so you could see a sakura tattoo as symbolic of the beauty of life.
A cherry blossom tattoo could also represent an appreciation for beauty in all its forms, whether that be the beauty of nature, life, human beings, art, music, or anything else. Honestly, if you did want to get a tattoo to express appreciation of your own beauty, we don’t see anything wrong with that.
Self-confidence is essential to self-acceptance and self-love. Many people have struggled with feelings of inferiority due to the unrealistic beauty standards we are bombarded with every day. If you’ve managed to love the way you look, then getting a tattoo of a cherry blossom to represent that is something to be proud of. Own it!
Cherry Blossom Tattoo Placement
Where you place your tattoo won’t necessarily change the meaning of it (unless you place it over your heart or on a ring finger, for instance). Even so, there are some factors you should take into consideration when choosing where on your body you want to get your cherry blossom inked.
How visible do you want your tattoo to be? If you want to show it off all the time, then placing it somewhere like your wrist or collarbone would be a good choice. If you’d like it to be visible but easily covered up, consider getting it on your arm.
If you do choose to get a visible tattoo, then you’ll have to be prepared for sun exposure. The sun’s rays can cause your tattoo to fade faster, so be sure to use sunscreen frequently, even in the winter. You can also cover your tattoo with your clothes on days you don’t feel like showing it off.
As you age, your body changes. Your skin loses its elasticity and you get wrinkles. This is part of life for everyone. However, wrinkles can distort the way a tattoo looks. If you’re worried about the future of your tattoo, choose a bony area for your ink like your shoulder blades, collarbones, or ribs.
Frequency of Use
Some areas of your body, especially your hands, see much more use than others. Hands and fingers are constantly in motion. They’re often being washed by soap and water and sometimes are even exposed to other chemicals (we know you don’t always wear gloves when doing your spring cleaning).
Tattoos on areas that see frequent use and washing will fade faster than those in other areas. Of course, you can always get them touched-up if needed. Some tattoo artists will even provide free touch-ups on their work.
Cherry Blossom Tattoos Are Beautiful and Meaningful
Cherry blossoms are a staple of Japanese culture, but their beauty and symbolic nature has caused them to become popular around the world. Even the United States hosts cherry blossom festivals similar to the hanami in Japan.
Cherry blossom tattoos are stunning in-and-of-themselves, but they’re even more special when you can connect them to something that is meaningful to you. Cherry blossoms remind us of the transience of life, friendship, love, sacrifice, renewal, death and rebirth, and beauty. In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with a cherry blossom tattoo.