Sunday, April 08, 2007


Sakura season, and Japan has become a soft pink fantasy land. The whole country is sprawled out beneath the cherry trees. Walking home along the river, I see the neighborhood's resident homeless man; he's drinking a beer and admiring the blossoms, like everyone else. Or so I first think. In reality, he's carrying on as always, and we're the ones in imitation of his daily activities. Maybe part of the fantasy is that it would be pleasant to live like this day in and day out... But he does seem to be enjoying himself. When the breeze shakes loose a flurry of petals, he smiles up at the branches. The brevity of the moment lends it a certain weight and clarity. In Japanese this is called ものがあわれ mono ga aware: the sad transience of things.

This pathos-inducing transience has less to do with hanami's inevitable end, however, than with its inevitable recurrence. The seasons appear and fade, appear and fade in a rhythm that is... comforting? stifling? A little of both. You want to ask where the time goes, but the truth is it doesn't go anywhere. Turn around and it's spring again. Every moment hiding inside every other, like a set of unending russian dolls.

Riding through the countryside, I make attempts at photographing the wild cherry blossoms through the bus windows. No good -- everything's a blur. At the mountainside park, my japanese father asks if I've ever been there before. "Yes, I believe so," I tell him. "I think this is my second time."


Geraldine said...

How does this compare with the cherry blossoms in DC? IS there any comparison??!

I'm glad you've made it back to Tsuyama once more!


Katie said...

I don't know; I've never been in DC during cherry blossom season. My first experience with it should be next year. It's a weird thought.