The cherry blossom (桜, sakura) is the national flower of Japan. It is probably most beloved flower among the Japanese. The blooming of cherry blossoms signifies not only the arrival of spring but the beginning of the new academic year for schools (Japanese school year starts in April) and of the new fiscal year for businesses. The cherry blossoms are symbols of a bright future. Also, their delicacy suggests purity, transience, melancholy and has poetic appeal.
This entire English-language article is available at http://japanese.about.com/od/japanesecultur1/a/031900.htm?nl=1