Sakon no Sakura (左近桜)

Sakon no sakura (the cherry tree of Sakon) is a cherry tree which existed in the first bay of the south-east corner to the left of the South floor down from the inner court ceremonial hall of Heian-kyo. It faced Ukon no Tachibana, the mandarin orange tree. The name Sakon no sakura comes from the fact that the battle array for the Capital Guard of the Left was set in the direction of this cherry tree during court ceremonies. It was also called the cherry tree of the south hall.

Originally a plum tree was planted when the Emperor Kanmu transferred the capital; however, a cherry tree was planted instead during the period of the Emperor Ninmyo as the original plum tree died during the Showa era (834 to 847). The cherry tree died during the Jogan era (859 to 876), but SAKANOUE no Takimori grew a spaling from its root as per the Emperor's orders, and the tree regained much of its branches and leaves. The cherry tree was also burnt down during a fire which occured in the inner court in September 959; the Yoshino cherry tree at the residence of Imperial Prince Shigeakira was replanted when the inner court was rebuilt, and it was replanted twice in November 964 and New Years in 965. The tree was burnt down several times since then and the one which was planted at the time of the Emperor Horikawa was the last tree.

Sakon no sakura is sometimes displayed on a tiered stand during the Doll's Festival.

[Original Japanese]