A common symbolic element in Japanese imagery and poetry, falling sakura petals have several interconnected meanings, depending on who they are falling on and the context thereof.
Cherry trees bloom en masse in early spring in Japan, but the white-to-coral petals shed and die very quickly and the peak bloom is only a week or two. There is a celebration called hanami associated with the peak bloom, which often entails picnics and drinking with old friends under the cherry trees.
Sakura season is a highly visible sign of spring, the beauty of nature, renewal of life, and first love…but can also represent the transience and fragility of beauty, life, and love.
Japanese mythology often also connects cherry blossoms with death; according to legend, the flowers of the tree were originally white; after a body was buried beneath it, the petals turned pink.
Sakura evokes both the new beginning of spring and the transience of passing from one stage of life to another.
Image: Woodblock print Shidare Sakura 2 by Hajime Namiki, 2005