Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Cherry blossoms at a nearby park. Click to enlarge.

“Negawakuba hana no shita nite haru shinam. Sono kisaragi no mochizuki no koro."
This is an old tanka (Japanese thirty-one syllabled verse) by a Buddhist monk about cherry blossoms. I can’t really translate it correctly, but roughly it’s meaning is something like: “If it were up to me, I’d like to die in spring under cherry blossoms in the time of full moon.”

Although it is talking about death, this tanka does not give me any dark image of it at all. Instead, it gives me an image of fulfillment, a readiness to move into another world with a peaceful contented mind. Yes, it is an image of transition in sheer beauty, with a slight touch of sadness. Everytime I see cherry blossoms, I recall this tanka in my mind.

I guess I’m not the only Japanese to feel this way. It might look strange to many non-Japanese people that we have such delicate feelings towards cherry blossoms and at the same time have loud “ohanami (flower-viewing)” drinking parties under cherry trees and get totally drunk. Well, maybe our love of the cherry blossoms is so intense that we HAVE TO be close to them, eat/drink as we view them, and some people just forget about the beauty and elegance of the flowers once their blood alcohol level reaches a certain point and start enjoying him/herself to the fullest :)

Oh well, we are an irrational and sentimental people with contradictions... and cherry blossom petals just fall on us like gentle rain, symbolizing the “transitions” that have always been in this world and will always be.

It’s spring here.

posted by obachan, 4/05/2005 05:28:00 PM


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