Sakura at Hirano Shrine, Kyoto
Japanese aesthetics evolved around nature and its cycles. And while Shintō considers nature to be sacred, the Buddhists in Japan celebrates its beauty and impermanence.
Like no other natural "phenomenon" sakura holds great significance for the Japanese people. Sakura, or the cherry blossom, symbolizes new beginning. Its fleeting beauty invites to a reflection on the meaning of life. Everything changes, everything is in constant motion, nothing lasts forever. In order to fully appreciate life, one must be able to live in the moment.
Since ancient times artists, poets, and philosophers celebrated this temporal beauty. Celebration of sakura in the early days of April is a perfect excuse for an outdoor gathering with family and friends. There is nothing better than a short escape from the monotony of everyday city life. You may even wonder whether it is the scent of sakura or too much sake under the sakura tree that makes people appear so carefree in a normally emotionally reserved society.
The beauty of sakura trees invites one to an intense contemplation. One not only takes time to appreciate the beauty of nature, but also learns to understand that all joys of life are temporary. As much as one would love to hold on to this tantalizing experience, one must let go. But there is no regret. One finds comfort in the very fact that nature follows its own cycle...
By Dominique Allmon ©2012
Sakura mochi image source here