Spring is Cherry Blossom Time

Cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms (Photo credit: bcostin)

The cherry blossom season from March to mid-April is a relatively short and brilliantly beautiful beginning of  spring.  Cherry blossoms are the quintessential expression of Mono no aware. It’s the Japanese aesthetic concept that highlights awareness of the inherent transience and impermanence of all things.  The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan: the eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century CE — Cherry Blossom And, while we Westerners think about death and rebirth in the fall, the Japanese think about death and rebirth in the spring.

Making Adjustments

When it comes to my husband’s new position, travel comes with the territory. His days away aren’t that frequent but they do add up. And as much as I do like being alone this has been a major adjustment for us. When he’s away I’m working very long hours and I don’t have time to blog. When he is home there are continuous demands on his private time and we both found ourselves resenting the ring of the phone.

thekissThose who don’t live balanced lives don’t experience health and wellness. I was in quarantine with Shingles last month and felt like seeing some different views from those just outside my windows. When March arrived I didn’t want to spend our precious time together talking about business or anything related to schedules and appointments. I wanted to get away and enjoy leisurely time alone – time for conversation, good dining  and tender intimate moments.  So I suggested we take a  short trip to the big island to reconnect without telling anyone we were going.

The characteristic ornamental cherry trees from Japan (30 flowering species) are very popular on the coastal islands and on the British Columbia  mainland too. Everywhere we went we witnessed the beginning of the brief blossom season. We visited a Botanical Garden and a Japanese Garden and spent a relaxing afternoon strolling down a path lined with ornamental cherries on both sides as we discussed cherry blossoms (impermanence). We also visited an area of interesting small shops and my husband bought me a lovely  pink silk scarf in one of them. Then we enjoyed a great vegetarian dinner and a scenic drive and ferry ride home.

Though for six years I have blogged through the seasons, since March began  in the free time I have I have not been inclined to blog.  Instead I have been painting sakura, writing haiku and visualizing what it will be like when my health is recovered and I’m “in the pink again”.

Traditional Japanese haiku always contain a season word and cherry blossoms are a symbol of spring. Haiku itself is deceptively simple–3 lines: 5 syllables in the first, seven in the second, five in the third, for seventeen in total. But it’s much more than that. I’m a haiku lover and if you haven’t read Harold G. Henderson’s An Introduction to Haiku then please consider putting it on your reading list. Henderson brings the extended layers of meanings of the words across.  These are not mere literal translations–they work on multiple levels to extend the meaning of the poetry.

The seasonal theme

Each Haiku must contain a kigo, a season word, which indicate in which season the Haiku is set. For example, cherry blossoms indicate spring, snow indicates winter, and so on, but the season word isn’t always that obvious.

Cherry Blossoms

To cherry blooms I come,
and under the blossoms go to sleep -
no duties to be done!
-Buson

Sakura

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

Closeup of blooming cherry blossoms
Closeup of blooming cherry blossoms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sakura

As bell tones fade,
blossom scents take up the ringing -
evening shade!
-Basho

Painting : Cherry Blossom Tree

Cherry Blossoms: A Metpahor for Life

To the Japanese people cherry blossoms (sakura) are a metaphor for life.  Japanese people believe the Japanese cherry blossom captures and defines all that is vulnerable about being human.  A brief, brilliant blossoming followed by the inevitable fall. The blossoming sakura are timely annual reminder that life is fleeting and time is precious.

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

Discussion

I associate spring  with new beginnings, birth, rebirth and budding as plants and flowers form new leaves and flowers, animals return, and the weather becomes warmer. Spring, is a time for natural rebirth, reproduction among animals, etc.  To me spring symbolizes the awakening of life, and positive change.

  1. What do you associate with spring?
  2. What does spring symbolize to you?
  3. Is there a flower that symbolizes the arrival of spring to you?

Related posts:

Blue Camas Love Affair

Love is a Rose

38 thoughts on “Spring is Cherry Blossom Time

  1. First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about your shingles. I know they are excruciatingly painful. I’m glad, though, that you and your husband got some well-earned time away. What a great way to re-connect.

    When it comes to Spring, I do think of rebirth. I love the Spring flowers that appear — such a delight to the ears and the nose. Someday I’d love to go to Japan and see the cherry blossoms. It sounds like such a sight to see!

    1. Hi Janene,
      Adjusting to this new lifestyle where my husband tavels hasn’t been easy but reconnection is great. Spring has always symbolized rebirth for mee. If you ever do get to visit Japan I hope I’m there at the same time ie. cheery blossom season so we can enjoy the sights together.

  2. As we are heading in to the colder darker months here it was refreshing to read this…our small town is haiku crazy…we have a haiku path where rocks are adorned with various verses…we have a haiku festifal…one of my dearest writier friends is a wonderful inspiration where writing haiku is concerned for me. She is ruthless in her criticism…but I think it a difficult art to get correct. I myself tend to personalise many aspect in my haiku so i am working on that. Do you get to wriite much haiku…it would seem you have so many designs on your time that they would be precious.

    1. Hi Jo,
      I’ve had a crazy working week and apologize for the delay in answering you. Your small towm sounds like a place I’d enjoy visiting. I rarely have the time to write haiku but every now and then a fragment comes to mind and I write it down. Sometimes I review the fragments and they become haiku. :)

      P.S. The demands on my time increased when my husband took a new position. I approved of that but it did place a greater burden on me.

        1. Life can be so busy that we feel we are going through motions rather than actually living it. It’s so hard to keep a balance. I carry a notebook and pen wherever I go and record fragmentary thoughts that later become haiku or even themes for blog posts.

        2. Life can be so busy that we feel we are going through motions rather than actually living it. It’s so hard to keep a balance. I carry a notebook and pen wherever I go and record fragmentary thoughts that later become haiku or even themes for blog posts.

  3. My favorite part of spring is that moment when the snow and cold loses its grip and the water starts to run off the roofs and down the streets. For some reason it takes me right back to a memory of being a kid in a yellow jacket jumping the rivulets that had sprung up everywhere. :)

    1. Your memory of your yellow raincoat makes me smile. Every spring I recall how much I loved my bright pink rubber boots I got when I was 4 years old and how I joyously splashed through every puddle I could find wearing those boots.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this article. It makes you think about not taking life for granted. “Japanese people believe the Japanese cherry blossom captures and defines all that is vulnerable about being human. A brief, brilliant blossoming followed by the inevitable fall. The blossoming sakura are timely annual reminder that life is fleeting and time is precious.’

    1. Dear Nards,
      It’s so great to hear from you. I hope you are well and happy too. I’m dealing with many difficult personal issues right now linked to my mother’s death. However, this time will pass and I know no matter how difficult things are now there will be happier days ahead. May the sun also shine brightly on you and yours.

  5. The trillium just poked their heads out yesterday. I had only a few minutes to admire them before the race of life swept me past. Thinking of your post, I walked out in the pouring rain today to just look at them, white heads bowed down under the weight of the water, still majestic. For me, they have always been the first blush of spring in the mountains surrounding most of my childhood and I’m so thrilled to be back in them again. Thank you again for reminding me to find a moment of peace among the desperate chase.

    1. Hello there Lorelle,
      We have trillium too. The flowers are so tiny and delicate and they bloom so early. The Garry oak meadows will soon be in blossom but currently it’s raining again, or shall I say “still”?

        1. Two weeks ago we were experiencing rain, freezing rain, hail and snow – all in the same day. All winter long we had wild windstorms that sent trees crashing over powerlines taking the power out and keeping me offline. Interestingly enough the weather forecasters tell us we had a warmer and milder winter than usual. Maybe so but I want it to end! We heard the frogs in our pond begin to sing 4 nights ago so spring is surely happening. Alleluia!

  6. Ah yes, I get homesick for Vancouver and its cherry blossoms bursting out all over.

    I wrote this post awhile ago with photos of lovely areas there:

    http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/cycling-under-cherry-pink-flowering-bowers/

    Cherry blossoms symbolize spring for me in the northwest coast.
    Crocuses, hyacinths and snowdrop flowers symbolize spring for me in southeastern Canada…Ontario, Quebec. Daffodils for whatever reason yes, but remind me of rabbits….Easter.

    I find tulips abit boring but they are colourful.

  7. What a fascinating discussion of the cherry blossom and its connection to impermanence! I enjoyed this immensely. Reflecting on the changing seasons helps us to reap the benefits of understanding impermanence on a gross level. But in actuality everything is changing in every moment. Birth and death are happening constantly. So in some sense the cherry blossom even more closely reflects the truth of impermanence.

    Beautiful material in all ways! Thank you timethief!

    1. Hi Sandra,
      I’m glad you liked this post. Yes indeed the entire universe is in a constant state of becoming. I’m finished my paintings now and not inclined towards writing more haiku but could change any moment. :)

  8. Hi Time Thief,

    I have always been a fan of Japanese culture. I guess it comes easily to me since I am Chinese and I grew up in Singapore. Despite my Western education, Eastern philosophy and thinking has always held my interest. It is indeed fitting that the cherry blossom should remind the Japanese of impermanence given its short lifespan. Then again, a good life is not measured in the length of years but the way it was lived.

    Given the fact I admire the Japanese for their martial culture and discipline, their view of nature and the world around them gives them a great depth which I appreciate. It was certainly this awareness of their mortality that spurred many men to accomplish great deeds while they could.

    Having lived in Singapore all my life, I have never known the seasons. But if I were to associate spring with something, it would have to be new possibilities.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    1. Hello Irving,
      I like your new possibilties association. Eastern philosophy and thinking has always held my interest as well. Your thoughtful remarks on Japanese people and their culture jive with my own very limited knowledge and perceptions.

      Be well and happy

  9. Hi TT it is like a new season reading your blog again. For me spring represents major points in my life even though I live in the tropics(with 2 seasons). For me it represents the time I fell deeply towards someone and then losing that person. And it is the new spring. So different from last year…still agitating but more on recovery period for me. I hope this time it is a recovery for good. Well for me the only flower that symbolize it is the cherry blossom, since I spend most of my life in cyberspace last year. This year I am doing the same thing but I am sure there is going to be a twist to it. Take care.

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