Cherry Blossoms <> Sakura


.. .. .. .. Sakura, the Cherry Blossoms

cherry blossoms -
stones of the past
stones of the present

2004, Hiruzen Highlands 蒜山高原
where the Sun Goddess hid in a cave and later returned.
Hiruzen Koogen is about 90 minutes drive from my home.

The dolmen in the area are a splendid setting for the perishable cherry blossoms. Here you can easily feel the presence of the ancient Gods. It is a very quiet and solitude cherry blossom viewing spot !


Here is another side of rural reality:

falling petals -
the farmers wife
spraying chemicals

This is the reality of rural Japan. Now many bugs come out, so they use poison against them, poison against weeds, poison against anything that disturbs human expectations.
The landsacpe in Hiruzen was very beautiful with snow-covered Mount Daizen (almost as beautiful as Mount Fuji) and a thousand old cherry petals floating in the air.
If it had not been for the Farmers Grandma, it could have been perfect rural Japan.
Maybe this is the equivalent of an Urban Haiku, showing the other side of rural reality.

CLICK for more sakura photos

Have a look at the Cherry Blossom Alley leading to the temple in front of the cave, where the sun goddess of Japanese legend used to hide before the Gods, plunging the world into darknes..

More pictures are here:

Hiruzen Highland through the Seasons
蒜山高原 大自然
Nature in Hiruzen


Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami) 津山の花見
in Tsuyama Castle Park 2005

cherry blossom party -
the red umbrella
invites to tea

Beautiful ladies in colorful kimono serve green tea.


old stonewalls
flanked by cherry blossoms -
the universe changes


shades of pink
in the blue sky -
life enfolding now

Look at my album with more Hanami photos from 2008


Sakurafubuki, Cherry Blossom Snow


cherry blossom snow -
second for second
the clock ticks

Kirschbluetenschnee -
die Uhr tickt
Sekunde um Sekunde

The cherry season is almost over. Sakura-fubuki, the petals fluttering in the wind like snow, are now our kigo. The pond is white with petals, the heron is building his nest, the swans are circling quietely among the petals..

And in my garden, the wooden clock handmade by my husband, keeps ticking...

April 14, 2005


Cherry Blossoms (sakura, Japan)
... and many related kigo in the database





Anonymous said...

Dear Gabi,
I find this very effective...
how quickly life falls through our fingers, sigh...
we must make use of every moment!


Anonymous said...

Dear Gabi san
This would make a lovely haibun. You should give it some thought.

Anonymous said...

ohhhh it is a 'me too ' kind of a day !! I like this one too.

but not only the deeper meaning of life ..the lighter meaning of the time of the cherry blossoms and the ticking of spirng...as we set our clocks and there are changes etc..als ot the forwardness of setting the clock ...even though the petals ane now slipping away ......good one!


Unknown said...

Gabi san
thank you for letting me enjoy [ohana mi] This year I have lost chance to see cherry blossom.
Your surrounding is eally wonderfull.


Anonymous said...

cherry blossoms
on his straw bonnet
the scarecrow

on the garden path
the leaflets of blossoms
and your shadow


Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

chikazuki no sakura mo sumi ni yakarekeri

the cherry tree
my close friend burning
in a charcoal kiln

This winter hokku is from a manuscript from 1826, when Issa had been living back in his hometown for thirteen years. He seems to have grown very close to a certain cherry tree (or group of trees) in his hometown, but now even it has been cut down, sawed up, and put into a kiln, where it is being slowly burned down over several days into charcoal, mainly for use as heating fuel. Issa feels as if he were watching a close friend being cremated.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

My old farming neighbour
battling with his trees

battling weeds -
the old farmer sprays poison
on his fields


He had been tending his many orchards for many years. Getting older, things got more difficult and one by one, he had to cut down the many trees in his orchards.
Today I observed the old farmer below in my valley :

winter cold -
he felled his last
apple tree



Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

hito kureba hitori no tsure ya hana no yama

someone's come
so I have a companion --
blossoming mountain

This hokku is from the beginning of the 2nd month (late March), 1825, six months after Issa was divorced almost immediately by his second wife, the daughter of a samurai. He subsequently lost his power of speech (probably from a minor stroke) for several weeks, and he may well have been feeling lonely during the spring of 1825. He married for the third time the next year.

In the area of cold, mountainous Shinano (now Nagano Prefecture) in which Issa lived, the cherry trees usually came into full bloom in mid or late April. In 1825 the 2nd month began rather late, on March 20, so it's possible some early mountain cherries are already in bloom, but Issa says the whole mountain is blossoming, so he may be referring to both plum and cherry blossoms here. In haikai cherry blossoms are usually the default for the word "blossom" (hana), but in early spring plum blossoms could also play this role, so I take Issa to be referring to both plum and cherry blossoms. He goes to the mountain alone to view the many blossoming trees, and when another person appears they quickly become companions, both captivated by the blossoms. The implication seems to be that normally most of the villagers in Issa's hometown aren't anxious to be his friend or even his temporary companion, but today is different. People (including Issa) are transformed into more than themselves by the transcendent power of the blossoms.

Hito can mean either human being or person/someone, and there are no personal pronouns in the hokku, so it's also possible to interpret the hokku as being about the relationship between the mountain and Issa (or his persona in the third person), who visits the mountain and becomes the mountain's guest:

a human appears
so the blossoming mountain
becomes his companion

If this is Issa's thought, then he feels the friendly mountain open itself up to him when he arrives. The blossoms are the constant accompaniment the warm-hearted mountain provides as Issa walks along a mountain path.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

薬王品 如病得医


"just as when a sick person finds a doctor" --
Dharma Flower Sutra, Chapter 23, on Yakushi, the Master of Medicine bodhisattva

hana o oru hyooshi ni toreshi shakuri kana

breaking off
a blossoming sprig
hiccups gone already

This hokku is from the 2nd month (March) of 1818, when Isa was visiting the Yudanaka hot springs at the invitation of one of his students, who owned an inn there. The headnote, with slight variations, was added when the hokku appeared in the Asagi-zora collection, the Dambukuro collection, and the Issa hokku-shuu collection of 1829. The note contains a phrase from Chapter 23 of the Dharma Flower Sutra, often referred to as the Lotus Sutra, which deals mainly with the previous lives of the bodhisattva of healing Yakushi, or Medicine Master. The phrase comes from a series of comparisons made by Shakyamuni Buddha, who explains that if you understand and act in accordance with the Dharma Flower Sutra, the result will be similar to what happens when a sick person finds a doctor. The headnote suggests that Issa felt as if some of the cherry blossoms he saw that day seemed to be a kind of Dharma flower, and when he broke off a twig with blossoms on it to take back with him -- presumably to put in a vase and place before a Buddha image or perhaps before a copy of the Lotus Sutra -- it was as if the bodhisattva Yakushi, the Medicine Master, had felt compassion and cured him of what was presumably a severe case of hiccups. The breaking off of the twig and the cure took place simultaneously, and Issa seems to believe that Yakushi was involved from the beginning in his action of plucking the sprig.

From ancient times many Japanese broke off twigs of blooming cherry trees, since the blossoms were believed to indicate that the cherry tree god was in the trees at that time, and the twigs were later placed in vases and worshiped as manifestations of the god. Sometimes they were also given as gifts to those who were unable to visit the blossoming trees. For the same reason, early medieval commoner or "low" renga verse-linking gatherings took place at spring festivals under blossoming cherry trees that were revered as especially holy. Indiscriminate breaking of twigs was frowned on, but people usually looked the other way when a devout person -- as opposed to a drunken reveler -- took a small sprig back home to worship it. Issa seems to have been following this lenient custom. Presumably the female cherry tree god -- Konohana Sakuya Hime, also the god of Mt. Fuji -- was glad to share her blossoms with those who worshiped her. In Issa's case, he may believe the bodhisattva Yakushi has cured him of his hiccups by deepening his piety toward the cherry tree and allowing him to freely express his wish to share a sprig of the Dharma-flower-like blossoms with others.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

asu araba araba to omou sakura kana

if we're here,
still here tomorrow
cherry blossoms

This hokku was written on lunar New Year's Day (Jan. 28) in 1808, when Issa was living in the city of Edo. Issa is already thinking of the cherry blossoms that will bloom later in the spring and translating into Japanese what he imagines they will likely be thinking in their own cherry-blossom language. Apparently he is trying to understand from their point of view how they will feel when so many of their fellow blossoms are already falling and scattering.

Perhaps the turn of the year has reminded Issa that human time is also passing. The hokku clearly seems to have a Buddhist ring to it.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

yama orite sakura miru ki ni nari ni keri

I survived the peak --
it's time to look closely
at cherry blossoms

This hokku from the middle section of a haibun travelog entitled A Trip in the Third Year of Kansei (Kansei sannen kikou 寛政三年紀行), probably Issa's first such haibun travelog, although he may have kept a record of his haikai trip to the north in 1789 that was subsequently lost.

The 1791 travelog is in a literary journal style and evokes the main events as Issa journeys from Edo, where he has said goodbye to his haikai master and fellow poets, back to his hometown, where he wants to say goodbye to his father before leaving on a series of long, mostly wandering journeys around western Japan. See the post of 10/12/2013 for more.

The hokku is best understood in context, and I should translate the relevant part of the travelog here, but I don't have time at the moment. To summarize, on 4/14 (May 16) in 1791, a day after the events evoked in the Issa post of 5/6/2013, and four days before arriving in his hometown, Issa stops and visits sacred Mt. Myogi, where he makes a pilgrimage to the Shinto shrine of its main god at one of its peaks. Rugged Mt. Myogi is famous not only for the powers of its several gods and Buddhas but also for its steep slopes and many unusual rock formations, which suggest to pilgrims that they have traveled to another world.

Read the full comment of Chris Drake