Cherry Blossoms, Institute for Education on Japan | Earlham College
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Cherry Blossoms

By Yuri Watanabe

Before we notice the warmth after the cold weather with plum blossoms, the arrival of spring is reported gaily and brightly with cherry blossoms. The world is changed into cherry blossoms and gladdens people in many ways.

Yuri Daughter

To us, Japanese, the word “cherry” brings the picture of the world of blossoms as well as the spirit of the cherry. The trees are old and large, there are many kinds of blossoms, white, pink, single and double, and they bloom one after another so that they may keep the time of blossoms long from the end of March till the end of April. They bloom in masses till they bend the spreading branches in artistic way.

Cherry blossoms of Tokyo are especially famous for their covering the parks, streets, banks of moats and rivers which run through the city. Indeed, they are even seen everywhere. Mountain parks and tunnels of cherry attract people near and distant, the blossoms on the sides of broad streets where the street car runs are also admired ceaselessly and the pink and white along the moats and rivers, arching over long avenues are more favored for their improvement of the places. Now I can not help thinking of the acquainted grove along the moat, only two blocks from our school, where we used to stroll every afternoon or evening, looking up the ceiling of the blossoms through which we could scarcely see the sky.

It seems to me, the best scene is when the blossoms are almost over their full bloom and begin the wonderful scattering. By the spring breeze, the petals fly and dance lightly and happily like the butterflies and by the wind they scatter like snow flakes thickly till they cover almost everywhere. Stepping hesitatingly on the soft, delicate carpet of petals, finding ourself also patterned with the original light pink petals and looking up the branches with the blossoms like the masses of carnation, which do not show any difference by the wind, how can we think of anything else but the universal beauty encircling us? Different beauty is shown in the night when the bright cherries are quietly bathing in the lovely moonlight, the thickly clustered branches seem dark in the shadows but one or two separated branches look white by the reflection of moonlight.

Taking advantage of this season, there are many athletic meetings in the parks and boat races in the river with banks decorated most extravagantly. This reminds me of people’s pleasure in old times, in having feast on the boat. They launched a cup of wine on the calm stream with the beautiful reflection of blossoms and they composed verselets before it came within reach. This season also draws out everybody so we can see every kind of people, peasants leaving farm behind, thronging very close to the trees with open mouth; merchants and shop boys forgetting of their counting books, joking about gaily; scholars and philosophers out of their libraries, enjoying the same thing with women and children, while the vigorous students skipping to and fro.

The cherry blossoms do not stop in their outward influence on people, they stimulate people’s hearts. When one is covered with the scattering petals, he can not help feeling of their teachings, especially of the symbol of Japanese spirit. It is the instruction impressed in us deeply since childhood, to live for the nation and never be afraid of death, to be brave, to encounter death for the country’s sake, as the blooming cherry blossoms without drooping, die bravely flying scattering in the air, so especially they typify the spirit of Japanese warriors.

Yuri Watanabe
Earlhamite: April 20, 1912

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