Question: Why is the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) cherished?

Answer: There is a well-known saying by the Japanese novelist, Kajii 
Motojiro (1901-32), "A dead body lies under the sakura tree" referring to 
the contrast between the beautiful and the eerie. The Japanese feel a 
special intensity for the sakura. After the end of a long winter, within a 
period of a week to ten days, the sakura bursts into bloom and falls all 
at once; hence, they are compared to the manliness of a samurai abiding 
by bushido, or the samurai code of behavior. The sakura is also 
mentioned in the tanka verse, "The spirit of the Japanese can be likened 
to that of the wild sakura viewed in the morning sun."

There is no other tree as many in number as the sakura that ranges 
extensively from north to south throughout Japan and that blooms so 
spectacularly. Both the plum and peach trees bloom throughout Japan 
even before the sakura, but the plum blooms in early spring when it is 
still cold. The peach blooms when it gets a little warmer, but there are 
not as many peach trees as there are sakura trees. The sakura blooms 
when the weather is pleasant and summons the people under its large 
canopy laden with blossoms.

The custom of viewing the sakura was from old, an event enjoyed by 
the nobility that later spread to the common people. Sakura viewing 
under the brilliant and luxuriant blossoms after a long and dark winter 
has now become a not-to-be-missed event.