Sakura (cherry blossoms) bloom elegantly but hold strong to the boughs through wind, knowing soon their fate is near. When they know the time has
come, the blossoms slowly drift from the boughs. Being aware of transience of life, we appreciate of their beauty and feel both admiration and gentle sadness at their passing.
Ryotaro Shiba, a Japanese author, wrote one’s identity was grown in “sato”, or one’s home or village. The spirit of one’s home cultivated in the natural features of the region was explicit to his eyes when he intensively and extensively travelled from village to village and wrote "Kaido wo Yuku" (On Highways). The areas stricken by four disasters (by earthquake, tsunami, nuclear crisis, and rumors) are the land of farming, fishery, and small factories supplying key parts worldwide, and is the place dear to Japanese heart. People are simple and unaffected and treasure the land inherited from their ancestors. Despite the ongoing troubles, majority of them want to bloom again there where they were once planted..... like cherry blossoms hoping to be born again while floating to the ground.
Wanting to enjoy cherry blossoms while they were still lingering, I strolled around Nara Park. In the shower of cherry blossoms, I was standing mesmerized.
During our drive, we heard the news of magnitude 7, level 5 aftershock following the previous night's biggest one which caused blackout again. Tohoku people must have felt scared and helpless in the continuing aftershocks. I was somber and felt guilty even calmly appreciating pleasures. What a difference between the stricken and the non-stricken! This is a harsh reality, and in uncertainty maybe I could be one of the sufferers next time.
These are view of Nara City from Mt. Mikasa, though blurred in typical Yellow Dust. Nara was a capital of Japan (710-784). After capital was transferred to Nagaoka, then Kyoto, leaving temples, shrines, and clergies behind, Nara has survived as religious and resort site. Now Nara City is mostly a bed town city, a laid back city, where old tradition and modernness coexist. No building is higher than Five-storied Pagoda of Kofuku-ji Temple. Nara as well as Kyoto avoided air raids during WWII thanks to one American senator's efforts to exclude Kyoto and Nara from air raids list. There is no such concentration of historical and cultural assets like in and around Nara City.
The flow of river is ceaseless and its water is never the same.
Saho River runs through Nara City. In Japan,there are many rivers lined up with numerous cherry trees. People sit and enjoy the beautiful view on the river bank or walk under the canopy of cherry trees.
Though there is diversity of the Japanese spirit from region to region, cherry blossoms have been at the core of Japanese cultural and aesthetic tradition as a whole.
Sakura is everywhere: in neighborhood, in schoolyards, between skyscrapers, along rivers, in parks, historic temples, shrines, and castles...., at Starbucks, on my kimono, in a tea cup, and everywhere else.
See you next year!
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