The good thing about writing random posts about topics that all sorts of
crazies people like to read and using images that are popular with all sorts of crowds is that when you stop writing for a while, you can come back and still be happy with your readership stats. If you’re all about stats, that’s a real plus. If you’re more about the small, wonderful group of readers you’ve found yourself amongst then it’s not so good. While I find myself paying keen attention to my site stats, I’m more interested in those few people that I have either known for a while or have become closer to through the kinship of writing because we must.
You know I haven’t written for a while now, I won’t linger on that. What I will do instead is tell you now about my visit to Hiroshima. If you’ve followed my blog for a long while, you’ll know that I’ve been there once already and had quite the experience on my last trip. This time, however, my experience was just as memorable – but for completely wonderful reasons. My father and I flew over to Japan for a two-week adventure back in April (just in time for my birthday). Our itinerary had four stops on the map and Hiroshima was the first. We had planned our trip so that it coincided with the Cherry Blossom season and this made our experience absolutely unforgettable!
If you’ve never seen a Cherry Blossom (known as Sakura in Japanese), they look like this:
The image is sharper if you click on it!
Now I’m not normally a flower guy, but there’s something about the Sakura that really struck a chord within me. I’d read a little bit about the Sakura tree before packing my bag and was not very surprised when I discovered the rich symbolism of the plant in Japanese culture. If you want to read all about it, here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry; if you’re not that fussed, I’ll share with you my understanding.
The Sakura blossoms for a short period each year – Worldwide there’s about a two-month window for viewing these stunningly simple flowers which range in colour from white to deep pink and light red. However, the blossoming is extremely weather dependant, so it can be difficult to predict exactly when the flowers will be out. When they do bloom, however, they are a brilliant sight to behold! The trees flower all at once and so over the course of a day the usually nondescript, wooden skeltons of the trees burst into pure white life and transform the area around them into a spectacle of beauty, inspiring a sense of awe and wonder that even the hardest heart cannot shrug off.
This sudden explosion of life, however, is short-lived. The blossoms fall from the boughs and branches in about a week, leaving the tree standing bare on a blanket of white (or pink) for another year. Naturally, the strong influence of Buddhism in Japan has led to the Sakura being associated with the concept of “mono no aware” – the concept of the awareness of the transience of things and thus the happiness in celebrating life and the sadness of the knowledge that all things must pass.
And so, hundreds and thousands of people scramble to celebrate the joyous experience that is the Sakura blossoming season, soaking in not only the flowers themselves, but the positivity that is sown in the hearts of all those who picnic, party or just sit in contemplation beneath the beautiful blooms. A bittersweet reminder to us all that life is short but beautiful. Embracing the beauty in our World, our friends and family and indeed ourselves is vitally important. Much like the Sakura, the conditions under which we each blossom cannot be easily predicted and we never know when our own week of radiant blooming will come to an end.
P.S. Wow, this was TOTALLY not what I expected to write. But there it is. Don’t worry; it just means that there’s yet another post joining the series that is “The Sensational Sakura Safari”!