Spring is finally here!

April’s theme is about the beautiful cherry blossoms, haiku and how they go together just like peanut butter and jam.

I always get excited when I see the very first cherry blossoms in bloom. It’s a clear sign that the bitter cold days of winter are finally behind us and brighter days are ahead. Cherry blossoms are celebrated all over the world during this time of year by having Cherry Blossom Festivals. In Japan, the seasons represent more than the change of time but it is a big part of the culture and history. In 1958 three hundred cherry trees were donated to the city of Vancouver by the Japanese consul, Muneo Tanabe, reported in the newspaper as “an eternal memory of good friendship between our two nations.” So, as you can see we have a very strong connection to Japan through the trees.

Vancouver has its own Cherry Blossom Festival and part of the festival is the haiku invitational which started in 2006. The haiku invitational is a contest where haiku poets all over the world submit two haiku poems that is based on a theme. The theme for this year is “reconciliation” so the poets write their haiku based on the theme with either cherry blossoms in the haiku or at least a very strong reference to them.

Here are a couple of the top winners from last year’s contest. Click here to read all of the winners.

Playing tag
under the cherry blossoms—
the streetlights come on

Vicky Rizzardo
Vancouver, British Columbia

in a dark cupboard
full of coats
cherry blossom petals

Cheryl Ashley
Nanaimo, British Columbia

The cherry blossom is often seen as a reference to the spring. A re-birth and new beginning with knowing that the buds beginning to bloom now will bring the long awaited fruits of summer. Traditional haiku poets in Japan would include cherry blossoms into their poems to indicate Spring. The cherry blossom symbolizes good fortune, an emblem of love and affection, as well as being a metaphor for the fleeting nature of mortality. It is a time to remember who we are, why was are here and to connect back to nature in a way that is special and precious during a short period of time that only lasts a few weeks.

April 13-14 is Sakura Days at VanDusen Gardens which is part of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. I will be there for part of it with fellow members of the Vancouver Haiku Group. Come meet us and say hello. There will be haiku workshops, pop-up readings in the garden and much more. Rain or shine it’s the perfect weekend to enjoy the blossoms, Japanese culture and learn a little haiku.

Click here to find out more about the Festival. I hope to see you there!

Here are more links to learn more about cherry blossoms, haiku and japan.

If you want to learn more about haiku and the cherry blossoms you can take the “Haiku Just for You’ online Course shows you the joy in writing and creating haiku poetry. This course introduces you to haiku, some of the most famous early poets, and provides an easy to follow series of five lessons, companion workbooks, stunning graphic templates, a collection of evocative one-liners you can mix and match and a nicely illustrated journal in PDF.

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