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Two natural facts have had a disproportionate impact on Japanese culture: cherry blossoms are beautiful, and they fall.

Cherry blossoms, wrote the scholar-poet and shogunal mandarin Matsudaira Sadanobu (1758-1828), “seem especially suited to the ways of our country, with branches so gentle, flowers so delicate in shape, and hues so simple that the total effect is perfect beyond belief.”

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