Japan

Sakura (cherry blossom) is the national flower of Japan. The blooming of cherry blossoms is eagerly awaited across the country every year. Millions of people go to Hanami (flower viewing) parties to welcome the coming of spring. Also, given the short time that the blossoms remain on the trees, they are also seen as a poignant reminder of the transience of life itself.
Magatama are curved beads which first appeared in Japan during the J?mon period. They are often found inhumed in mounded tumulus graves as offerings to deities. They continued to be popular with the ruling elites throughout the Kofun Period of Japan, and are often romanticised as indicative of the Yamato Dynasty of Japan. They are mainly made of jade, agate, quartz, talc and jasper.
Some consider them to be an Imperial symbol, although in fact ownership was widespread throughout all the chieftainships of Kofun Period Japan. It is believed that magatama were popularly worn as jewels for decoration, in addition to their religious meanings. In this latter regard they were later largely replaced by Buddhist prayer beads in the Nara period.
In modern Japan, the magatama’s shape of a sphere with a flowing tail is still the usual visual representation of the human spirit.



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