It's a cherished tree in Japan — and for Caroline Ishii, the best place in Ottawa to bask in the cherry blossom's beauty is the Dominion Arboretum.
"They're in full bloom right now," said Ishii, a local chef, on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning this week.
"[They've got] little heart-shaped flowers, and they're all pink and white and billowy. They're beautiful."

Sakura aka cherry blossoms are popping in Ottawa. We stop and admire the Japanese tradition of hamami (flower viewing) with chef Caroline Ishii. 9:48
Late April marks the local arrival of the cherry blossom — known as sakura in Japanese — and the Arboretum's collection of trees prove popular for folks looking to add some bright pink hues to their latest Instagram pic.

A person wearing a mask walks beneath a cherry blossom tree in Ottawa's Dominion Arboretum on Friday. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)
But for Ishii, it's not just about how beautiful the tree is.
There's also the tradition of hanami, which translates into English as "flower-watching." It's celebrated across Japan each year, with people gathering under the trees, sharing meals and enjoying each other's company.
"It's how people react to the cherry blossoms [that I love]," said Ishii. "It's just a moment in time that they all run out to cherish and sit under the trees with friends and family."

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the annual hanami gatherings harder to safely pull off, of course. In Ottawa, the provincial stay-at-home order means people are to remain close to their residence and only leave for essential reasons like outdoor exercise.
But as Ishii notes, the Japanese government has gone to great lengths to make sure the trees can be enjoyed online.
And with the cherry blossom only blooming for a couple of weeks, it has a symbolic importance that's especially relevant during these pandemic times.
"It means for the Japanese that life is fleeting," Ishii said "And we must make the most of it while we can."

Cherry blossoms in bloom at the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa. (Felix Desroches/CBC)
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