I’ve only had a smattering of music theory and classical music training in my life, much less a repertoire for “east meets west” crossovers, so I’m afraid I can’t offer much insight into Sakura other than what you might find online or in the liner notes. This is, however, an incredibly beautiful album of traditional Japanese songs and lullabies as performed by French flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and harpist Lily Laskine. It was released in 1978 and was arranged/transcribed by the award-winning Japanese music composer and professor Akio Yashiro.
The musical selections span three eras (periods) of Japanese history from 1867 to the late 20th Century. Both the flute and the harp lend themselves to Japanese melodies and sounds — the flute having been a part of Japanese musical tradition for centuries (originally appearing in bamboo form several centuries ago), and the harp substituting nicely for the Japanese Koto instrument. Overall, these songs conjure up a nostalgic, calm, and at times melancholy feeling. Definitely worth a purchase if you’re looking for authentic Japanese melodies but with a somewhat “western” instrumental interpretation.
More about Sakura on Discogs.