By, Uwe Paschen.
The Japanese Cherry Blossom festivals.
In Japan, the Cherry blossom has a very particular and important meaning since the cherry tree is botanically a native of the Japanese Isles.
From an early period, it has been the national tree of Japan. Since the Man’yoshu, the earliest anthology of Japanese poems and songs (7th-9th cent.), down to the present day, the cherry tree has exerted on the Japanese psyche an almost mystical fascination. Most of today’s festivals traditions and poetry started in the Heian Period (794–1191), where poems such as Princess Shokushinnai Shinno – Private Anthology
“waga iado no izureno mine no no hana naran / seki iru taki to ochite kuru kana are famous."
"(from what lofty heights
"come so many blossoms to my hut?
first as if held back – then,
unforeseen, this sudden cascade!)”
Yet, one of the greatest poet was probably Saigyo a Japanese Buddhist priest-poet, one of the greatest masters of the tanka (a traditional Japanese poetic form), whose life and works became the subject matter of many narratives, plays, and puppet dramas. He originally followed his father in a military career, but, like others of his day, he was oppressed by the sense of disaster that overwhelmed Japan as the brilliant imperial court life of the Heian era passed into a period of civil wars in the latter half of the 12th century.
One of his greatest poems still honored today and that most Japanese may know by heard is about the cherry blossom.
“ negawaku wa, hana no motonite haru shinamu, sono kisaragi no mochizuki no koro."
"I pray that I might die beneath the cherry flowers in spring, in the month of February (by the lunar calendar) when the moon is full.”
Here in Narita as else where in Japan we celebrate our Cherry blossom season as well. Where our temple is, as well as around the City hall, Schools and private houses, all are surrounded by many Cherry trees now in full bloom.
Giving the eye a feast of natural beauty and harmony.
This season is as a master painting of combining nature’s beauty, seasons, colours and human ingenuity in trying to reflect that beauty in its architectures and temples.
Some, that have the luxuries of time and financial independence will follow the Cherry blossoms through out Japan going from one festival to the next starting in the southern Islands of Kumejima followed by Odaiba, Sado and ending all the way North on Okushiri Island.
The list of places and Islands is rather long, other then the five main Islands, with in each are many places worth visiting in the Cherry blossom season as well as in other seasons.
For us here the first festival in Chiba took place at the end of March in Tateyama, followed by Narita today wish will be followed for us by Nikko, (named a World heritage site by the UN) in two weeks.
An almost two most long festivity since Japan is blessed with five climate zones, from the most Northern Island to the most Southern Island. Making the Cherry blossom trail a real adventure of sorts and a dream for many to look forward to undertake one day.