Friday, March 29, 2013

Sakura and a Blossoming Spring.

We have arrived in Japan just as the cherry blossoms are coming out. And they are stunning in their beauty. Their flowers literally take over their cherry-trees (called "sakura").The Japanese hold flower-viewing parties (Hanami), in which large numbers of people arrive at parks, shrines, and temples with family and friends to enjoy a spring break. 
These flowers are so eagerly anticipated, that the Japanese Meteorological Agency posts a nightly forecasts of the sakura zensen (cherry blossom front) as it moves from south to north with the approach of warmer weather.

In Japan, while the cherry blossoms can represent innocence, simplicity and spring, they have a long standing symbolic value: In the past, the samurai culture admired the flower since samurais (like the cherry blossom) were considered to have a relatively short life expectancy… and also because they believed the flower represented drops of blood.
For many, the transience of the blossoms - their extreme beauty and quick death - is embodied in the concept of mono no aware (もののあはれ?). [1] Mono no aware - literally "the pathos of things" - is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常, mujō?), or transience of things, and a gentle sadness at their passing.

For us as visitors, we have loved the flowers, and have enjoyed the wonderment of the people as they emerge from their winter into spring.


[1] The association of the cherry blossom with mono no aware dates back to 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga.]

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