Hazakura (葉桜)

Hazakura is a term that refers to cherry trees during the period after the cherry blossom falls and the trees start to sprout new leaves until the cherry trees are totally covered with new leaves of tender green, or to such scenes.

The term "Hazakura" is used as a summer season word in many Haiku poems such as, "I spent two days in Nara to enjoy beautiful Hazakura" (by Buson YOSANO) and "I enjoy Hazakura although other people do not notice its beauty" (by Kafu NAGAI).

Hazakura

Generally speaking, the season for having parties under the cherry trees in order to enjoy Hazakura starts when the fully open cherry blossoms start to fall and simultaneously the trees start to sprout new leaves, gradually changing their overall color from pink to tender green until all the cherry blossoms have fallen but the trees still keep some red portions because of the remaining pistils and stamens, or until all the trees are totally covered with new leaves of tender green. Cherry trees with leaves after this season are not called Hazakura.

Similar to the terms used to represent the blooming status of cherry blossoms, such as Ichibuzaki (ten percent of blooms bud on the tree) and Nibuzaki (twenty percent of blooms bud on the tree), there are terms used to represent the status of Hazakura, such as Maihajime (blossoms starting to fall and scatter), Rokubu hazakura (sixty percent of young leaves on the cherry tree), Shichibu hazakura (seventy percent of young leaves on the cherry tree), Hachibu hazakura (eighty percent of young leaves on the cherry tree) and Kubu hazakura (ninety percent of young leaves on the cherry tree). The following table shows the major terms used to represent the status of blooming and the Hazakura of cherry trees, as well as their specific meanings (ratio of blossoms to leaves).

Sakuraba
Cherry leaves are stacked and salted in wooden barrels to be eaten. These salt-preserved cherry leaves are called Sakuraba.

Because of its delicate fragrance, Sakuraba is used for Sakura-mochi (rice cake with bean paste wrapped in a preserved cherry leaf), ice cream, cookies, etc., to give flavor.

The leaves of Oshima-zakura are used to produce the edible sakuraba that is used to wrap sakura-mochi. Matsuzaki Town, Kamo County, in Shizuoka Prefecture, is the largest manufacturer of sakuraba, producing seventy percent of Japan's total demand.

Odor (fragrance)
The fragrance component of sakuraba originates from an essential oil component called coumarin. Salting the raw cherry leaves brings out their fragrance. The leaves of oshima-zakura are used to produce sakuraba because they contain more coumarin than those of other cherry trees. Coumarin is also extracted from tonka beans. It was also produced artificially in 1876.

Waka poet
Sakuraba ONO (1879 - 1942) was a waka poet born in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is said that Bokusui WAKAYAMA was greatly influenced by Sakuraba in the Meiji period. In his hometown (Saigo Village, Higashiusuki County, Miyazaki Prefecture), the Sakuraba festival is held every year by Sakuraba-kenshokai on November 3 (Culture Day) in front of the monument to his poetry.