The Japanese love affair with the cherry tree and its pink, fragile sakura blossoms is world renowned. Every spring, the nation eagerly awaits for the first pink buds to appear on bare branches. The sakura zensen, or cherry-blossom opening front tracked by Japan's meteorological agency, shows where sakura has started flourishing around the nation, and is reported every day on the news.

And once the flowers are in bloom, everyone goes out to enjoy them in the annual rite of spring called hanami — a picnic and party under the blossoming trees. You can even download handy smartphone apps to locate good hanami spots, track the sakura zensen and more.

The love for sakura doesn't stop at just gazing at the flowers, though: The whole tree gets used in various ways, from homeware to food.