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.

春爛漫の桜の木の下で自らの生を閉じることができたなら、と花が咲き誇り舞い散りゆく己の盛りの時にいっそ彼岸を渡って行きたいと願う情動は、洋の東西を問わず人が密かに、しかし等しく持ち合わせている無意識下にある願望なのでしょう。

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.”

例年になく桜の時期に一度も雨が降らず、二週間ほど晴天が続いた去年の春が過ぎた頃に、私の父は彼岸を渡ってゆきました。毎日病院に会いに行くバスの中から川沿いに咲く桜並木を見つめ、バス停を降りて歩く道すがら小学校の校庭やお寺の古木の桜を見上げて、父に会いに行っていました。そして病室では父の手を握り「お父さん、今桜がすごく綺麗よ。今日はお父さんの大好きな川沿いの桜を見ながら歩いて帰るよ。お父さんも一緒に散歩したいね。」と話しかけていました。

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.

桜の花が精一杯に咲き、そしてひととき佇んで、あとは潔く舞い散って行く。出会いと別れを彩る花に、私達日本人は様々な思いを重ねて来ました。日本には、桜の季節に因んだ天候を表す言葉が幾つもあります。花霞、花曇り、花冷え、春爛漫、桜色、春の便りの訪れ、桜舞い散る、などなど。そして桜に由来する食べ物には、桜餅、桜茶、桜の塩漬けなどがあり、古来より桜ほど日本人が深い思いを託してきた象徴は他にないと言えるほどです。

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.

お花見や夜桜見物をしていて、お酒のコップに桜の花びらがハラリと舞い落ちると、私たちは何か良いことの兆しを見つけたような予感を抱きます。

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…

この春は、父が逝ってから初めて迎える春です。武士の血をひく父は、最後の最後まで高潔に品位を失うことなく、それは美しい顔で旅立ちました。まるで桜の花吹雪の中で、いつもの優しい笑顔で手を振るかのようなお別れでした。そして「いつまでも泣きなさんな。」そう言ってくれる声が聞こえてくる気がします。桜の季節は、また父と会える季節。父が桜の花になって会いに来てくれる。きっとこれから毎年、そう思うようになるのでしょう。

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.

桜は出会いと別れ、その美しくまた時に悲しくもある人生の物語に寄り添ってくれる心なのだと、春が来るたびに私達は思いを馳せるのです。

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

それではまた。皆様に豊かな祝福がありますように!

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