Spring has fully arrived and the sweet buds of the season are bursting into bloom. I’m seeing them everywhere I go. It’s such a breath of fresh air to know that the stillness of winter is behind us. This is nature’s way of reminding us that every day is worth celebrating. When the sweet buds of the cherry blossom start to burst, it is certainly a time to celebrate. It’s a clear sign that the bitter cold days of winter are finally behind us and brighter days are ahead. The cherry blossom is often seen as a reference to spring; they represent rebirth and a new beginning, with the knowledge that the buds beginning to bloom will bring the fruits of summer. In my part of the world the numbers of Covid have gone up and we are faced with more restrictions. This feeling of expansion and contraction, one step forward and one step back is an ongoing theme we continue to be faced with. But, the good part is that it is spring, which allows us to go outside, connect with nature and take in the specialness of the blossoms. We have learned to adjust and continue to do so during this time of transformation. I still see the silver linings as we continue to grow, evolve and most importantly learn how to slow down. The cherry blossom symbolizes good fortune, an emblem of love and affection, as well as being a metaphor for the fleeting nature of mortality. The blossoms are celebrated all over the world during this time of year by having cherry blossom festivals.
When these blossoms come into being each year, their short life reminds us of the overwhelming beauty and temporariness of life. For many around the world, the cherry blossom tree carries a message of how precious our lives really are. This is a gentle reminder to practice living in the present, being mindful and letting go. The life cycle of blossoms can help us question why we don’t always live life to the fullest, why we don’t reach out to others, and why we don’t pause and simply pay attention to the magical living, breathing world around us. Cherry blossom season is a time to regain our perspective on life, and to be grateful for the good things in the ordinary that we can often take for granted.
In Japan, the seasons represent more than the change of time; they are a big part of the culture and history. The cherry blossom is Japan’s unofficial national flower and the Somei Yoshino is a favourite type of cherry blossom. The Japanese cherry blossoms and the tradition of flower gazing, or hanami, have inspired poets for centuries to write haiku. The Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms have a short season — they bloom, and usually fall within a week, before the leaves come out. Then the blossoms are gone just as quickly as when they bloomed.
Have you ever heard of hanami? Hanami is a tradition in Japan of flower gazing and has been a great source of inspiration for poets to write haiku. The Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers goes back many centuries. Have you ever noticed the different types and colours of blossoms? I had no idea there were so many different ones until I became more aware of them. Most varieties produce light pink to white blossoms, but there are also cherry trees with dark pink, yellow or even green blossoms. Since cherry blossom season is to quick, it’s best to get out there and enjoy them while they last!
Cherry blossom viewing can also be done all over the world, but the best place to experience true hanami is in Japan. I have yet to go to Japan and when I do go, I’m going to make sure it’s in the spring. From what I have learned, the photos I have seen and the haiku I’ve read, spring looks like a special and beautiful time to be there. People come from all over Japan to see Kyoto’s stunning sakura trees. Canals in Kyoto have boat tours where you can see the cherry blossoms reflected in the water. There are other canals where a path is lined with cherry blossoms trees, forming a canopy of blossoms. There are so many beautiful spots to view the blossoms that it would definitely take more than one trip to see it all.
Another special place to view the blossoms is in Vancouver. Since moving to the island, I miss the many different types of blossoms that are scattered throughout the city. The blossoms are starting to bloom here and are just a wee bit later than Vancouver, but just as sweet.
THE VANCOUVER CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
For the past sixteen years Vancouver has celebrated the cherry blossoms every spring with a month long festival. Part of the festival is a Haiku Invitational where haiku poets around the world would submit haiku for a contest. The haiku above is the top winner in the Vancouver category for 2020. I will be posting other winners thought the month as well as mine. I have won a couple of honourable mentions that I will share. Below is a link to see all of this year’s winners. Due to Covid the festival has had to adjust the festival to the social distancing protocols but it is still going strong and source of inspiration and a beautiful way to reawaken our spirit.