SAKURA, Hello Good-bye

Hello, how are you doing? The season of cherry blossoms, sakura has come to Japan again. In this time of the year when the whole nation is colored with pale pink, I assume many of Japanese remember a tanka poem of Saigyo (1118~1190), a monk poet in late Heian period.

みなさん、こんにちは。日本に、また桜の季節が巡ってきました。この薄紅色に日本中が染め上げられる時節になると、平安時代の終わりの歌僧、西行法師 (1118~1190) の詠んだ歌を思い出す人も多いと思います。

I only wish,    If I could die,   Under cherry blossoms,  Around  late February,  When full moon approaches

ねがはくは 花のもとにて 春死なむ その如月の 望月のころ

*It was made under lunar calendar, so the time is around late March nowadays.

The wish of the poet, that he wants to end his life under full bloom cherry trees can be said as universal unconscious desire that people regardless of their nationality are secretly embracing. In the highest peak of one’s life, it could be irresistible not to long for to cross the line.


It was quite exceptional that it didn’t rain at all during cherry blossom season for 2 weeks last year. And after the beautiful spring days, my father passed away. Every day on a bus to go to my father’s hospital, I was looking down full bloom cherry trees along a river, after getting off a bus I was walking, looking up big old cherry trees at a temple and an elementary school. In the hospital room, I held my father’s hand and spoke to him, “Cherry blossoms are so pretty at the moment. Today I go walk home along the river that is your favorite spot. I wish I can walk with you.”


Cherry blossoms bloom as hard as they can, and they stay on earth just for a while, and they scatter over so bravely. Cherry blossom is a flower that it stays aside with the time of encounter and farewell. We Japanese layered on so many memories and wishes to the very flower. In Japan, there are many words describing weather using cherry blossoms. “Flower haze” for spring hazy day, “flower cloudy day” for cherry blossom season cloudy day, “flower chill” for cherry blossom season chilly temperature, “spring glorious” for cherry blossoms full bloom, “cherry blossom pink” for pale pink, “the arrival of spring letter” for cherry blossoms start blooming, “cherry blossoms scatter over” for finale of a beautiful moment and so on. There are sakura related foods such as sakura mochi (a pink rice cake filled with sweet been paste and wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf), and sakura cha (tea with salted cherry blossoms). The salted cherry blossoms are used for other cookings as well. There is no such symbol as cherry blossoms, sakura, that Japanese people love and treasure since ancient times.


We love picnicking under cherry blossoms both daytime and night time. And if you see a cherry petal fall into a cup of your sake, you would think it as a good promise with some nice anticipations.


This is the first spring after my father passed away. My father who was a descendant of samurai, never lost his noble spirit until the last moment. His face was unbelievably handsome even at the last minute. I felt as if he was waving his hand good bye in cherry petals scattering over, he was smiling gently as always. And I can sense as if he is telling me not to cry so much. The season of cherry blossoms is a season that I can see my beloved father, my hero once again. He turned to be cherry blossoms and came to see me. I think I would feel that way every spring…


Cherry blossom is a heart of our Japanese that it stays by our side in the time of seeing and parting. Cherry blossoms are just there when we go through beautiful yet sometimes sad moments. Each spring, we long for sakura so dearly.


That’s all for today. Blessings to each one of you!


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