29 Swoon-Worthy Photos Of Japanese Cherry Blossoms

Nothing beats the simple beauty of a cherry blossom in full bloom. While most varieties of the tree do not produce fruit, their pinkish-white flowers are admired by people all across the world.

In Japan, cherry blossoms represent the beauty and fragility of life, a symbolic notion that has existed for centuries, as seen in ancient Japanese paintings and mythology. When the flowers bloom—creating a dreamy scene of white and pink petals, people gather together to celebrate and remind themselves that while life is a blessing, it is also tragically short.

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You’ll Love These Shots From National Geographic’s 2015 Traveler Photo Contest

Incredible Photos of Paris

Photo by Jaco Marx. Source: Earth Shots

Few institutions measure up to the centuries-old National Geographic Society, which is respected worldwide for its promotion of environmental conservation and observation, often in the form of rich imagery and intriguing articles. So it’s no surprise that National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2015 elicited incredible photographs from (literally) every corner of the world.

The four contest categories are vague and simple: travel portraits, outdoor scenes, sense of place, and spontaneous moments. Photographers can interpret these designations as they will, making for a monumental variety in each image’s composition, style and feel. While there’s still time to submit a picture (the contest runs through the end of June), Nat Geo editors have released galleries of their favorite submissions. While these are our favorite photos in the running, you can check back in July for the full list of winners.

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Traveler Photo Contest 2015

Photo by Angyalosi Beata. Source: Capture It

Diving Bird National Geographic Society

Photo by Alejandro Prieto. Source: The Atlantic

Benjamin Hardman Photos

Photo by Benjamin Hardman. Source: Benjamin Hardman Photography

Nat Geo Photo Contest

Photo by Ed Graham. Source: Huffington Post

Travel Portraits National Geographic Contest

Photo by Carey Nash. Source: Carey Nash Photography

traveler-photo-contest-chris-shmid

Photo by Chris Shmid. Source: Huffington Post

Polar Bears Nat Geo

Photo by Daniele Bertin. Source: 500px

Lee Scott Photography

Photo by Lee Scott. Source: Huffington Post

Traveler Photo Contest Submissions

Photo by Kristin Repsher. Source: Kristin Repsher

Wild Bear National Geographic

Photo by Chris Schmid. Source: The Atlantic

Hidenobu Suzuki Photography

Photo by Hidenobu Suzuki. Source: Meena’s Tirith

Skeikh Zayed Grand Mosque Lori Barbely

Photo by Lori Barbely. Source: Lori Barbely

National Geographic Photo Contest

Photo by Ravikanth Kurma. Source: Huffington Post

Kent Shiraishi Photography

Photo by Kent Shiraishi. Source: The Atlantic

National Geographic Photo Contests

Photo by Matthew Seville. Source: The Atlantic

Wildlife Photography of Rhinos

Photo by Stefane Berube. Source: Huffington Post

Shane Wheel Traveler Photo Contest Submission

Photo by Shane Wheel. Source: Huffington Post

2015 National Geographic Traveler Photography Contest

Photo by S. Ram. Source: Huffington Post

Paolo Lazzarotti Photography

Photo by Paolo Lazzarotti. Source: National Geographic

Lion National Geographic Photos

Photo by Mohammed Alnaser. Source: 500px

Incredible Photos of Paris

Photo by Jaco Marx. Source: Earth Shots

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What We Love This Week, Volume CXXII

Migrant Crisis Departing Boat

A man watches a ferry depart from Patras, Greece. Afghan, Iranian and Sudanese migrants, many living in abandoned factories in Patras, try to stow away on nearby ferries to Italy. Source: The Atlantic

The Mediterranean Migrant Crisis

Migrant Crisis Rescue Boat

Migrants crowd an inflatable dinghy as an Italian rescue vessel approaches off the Libyan coast. Source: The Atlantic

Fleeing the war-ravaged countries of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, trekking overland to Turkey or Libya, then crowding into ramshackle dinghies in hopes of crossing the Mediterranean into Europe. This is the multipartite journey behind the increasingly dire Mediterranean Migrant Crisis. 60,000 people have made the journey this year alone, according to the UN–and 1,800 of them did not survive. But even for those who do, the journey doesn’t end there. From those who must then hide out in Greece’s abandoned factories to those who attempt to stow away on trucks and ferries bound for Italy and beyond, see more at The Atlantic.

Migrant Crisis Dead Body

The body of a dead migrant is carried from a merchant ship in the Sicilian harbor of Catania on May 5. Around forty migrants died in the Mediterranean the day before, according to the survivors. Source: The Atlantic

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