This summer I had a wonderful opportunity to both meet Jake Shimabukuro and hear him play “Sakura” in the park. First he played with The Acoustic Generation from Aloha City Ukes, and then he played a solo. The solo he chose was Sakura, a Japanese folk song meaning Cherry Blossoms.
SPRING AND CHERRY BLOSSOMS
Sakura is a Japanese word which means cherry blossoms. During spring, these stunning cherry blossoms appear all over Japan but only last for several days. The cherry blossoms appear in Tokyo usually from late March to early April. In other parts of the country, they come out as early as January.
The Japanese observe a ritual called “hanami” during the cherry blossom season. Basically, hanami is the Japanese custom of taking time to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of flowers or hana in Japanese. Frequently, these spring flowers are those of the cherry blossoms but there are others such as the plum blossoms.
Jake and the Koto
Jake imitates the sound of the 12-string koto, a traditional Japanese instrument, in his performance of Sakura. Here is a video showing what the koto sounds like.
Jake Shimabukuro’s Performance of Sakura
Here is Jake’s rendition of Sakura. Notice how beautiful the ukulele sounds and how well he is able to imitate the koto.
Jenny and Sakura easy ukulele tutorial
I have always liked Sakura. It reminds me of how much I enjoyed the cherry blossoms on the University of Washington Quad when I was in college. The trees bloomed every Spring there and all the students enjoyed the blossoms. Some of these trees were a gift from the Japanese to the University.
Sakura is in our newest book, 21 Easy Ukulele Folk Songs. If you would like like to learn a much easier version of this song, check out our easy ukulele tutorial for Sakura below. You can also get a copy of our book to learn this song and other easy folk songs.