Cherry Blossom Time – the season of Hanami and time for some Japanese haiku poetry.

The blossom has opened on my little cherry tree here in my Lewes garden in Southern England and it is an appropriate moment to remember Japan in this their catastrophic year. I wonder if they will be able to celebrate Hanami, the cherry blossom viewing ceremony but believe that if they do they will find comfort in it. Cherry blossom (Sakura)  in Japanese culture is venerated as a symbol of peace, beauty, transience and human frailty. I shall think of these things too as I look at my tiny tree.

Here are some old Japanese Haiku poems celebrating in different ways, the magical Sakura blossom:

In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing
as a stranger.

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)

The hue of the cherry
fades too quickly from sight
all for nothing
this body of mine grows old —
spring rain ceaselessly falling.

Ono no Komachi (9th Century)

Sleeping under the trees on Yoshino mountain
The spring breeze wearing Cherry blossom petals.

Saigyo Hoshi (1118 – 1190)

Fie! This fickle world!
Three days, neglected cherry branch…
And you are bare

Oshima Ryota (1718 – 1787)

Live in simple faith…
Just as this simple cherry,
Flower, fades and falls.

Kobayashi Issa (1763 – 1828)

I shall savour my cherry blossom here in England knowing that it will only last a very short time but, being a greedy kind of person, I shall also delight in my apple blossom which has decided this year to bloom at the same time. I am doubly blessed.

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