As before, the Japanese do expressions of wonder so much better than any language I know. Sakura – cherry blossom and Ume – plum blossom – are celebrated with Hanami – flower viewing.
Well, it’s official. It’s Hanami season. Our ume by the door is beginning to blossom. Buds are fat and some have popped open already. The cherries will be a long time yet, but the apricot and nectarine we planted in November are blossoming up. Hopefully, no frost to kill the buds off. This tradition means a lot to me because it reminds me of the whole idea of transience, the bitter-sweet nature of life, how beauty lasts only a moment, yet how it always returns. It was the symbol of the samurai, but to me, it’s the symbol of spring, of rebirth, of beginnings. With the ‘baby sheeps’ (as Jake likes to call them) in the field, the snowdrops fading and the daffodils beginning, violets poking their heads up all around, it’s definitely a sign that times are a-changing. I can’t think of a more poignant thing to happen at this time, when two little lives are over.
This time four years ago, I was in Kyoto for Hanami. It was everything I imagined it would be.