Monday, February 29, 2016

Vernon Mooers writes

In The Cherry Trees        
                         (for Kyung Nam)

She was a natural model
    in the cherry blossoms
the blooming time of trees
April in the park
she, young and beautiful
and life couldn't be any better
      this day
      embedded in my mind
      like photographs
      the captured moments
      of pure happiness
          frozen moments of universe
and she danced
          in the colors
          the purple azalea
          peach and magnolia
this day to remember 
 Cherry blossom path by ilolamai

Cherry Blossom Path -- ilolamai



  1. The cherry blossom is the flower of several Prunus trees, but it is especially connected to Prunus serrulata (sakura). Japan has over 200 cultivars, mostly grown for ornamental use so they do not produce fruit; the most popular variety is the Somei Yoshino. Its flowers are nearly pure white, tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem. They bloom and usually fall within a week, before the leaves come out, so the trees look nearly white from top to bottom. However, Jinhae (near Buson, South Korea), has the world's largest collection, some 340,000! Yeojwacheon (Yeojwa Stream) is a particularly popular spot there, with the "beotkkot" forming an arboreal tunnel around it; the "Romance Bridge" there gained international attention as the spot where Gwanu and Chaewon, the central characters of the MBC TV series "Romance," met and fell in love, sparking the notion that couples who strolled there under the blooms would become engaged. Nonetheless, the associated traditions are contentious. In the first half of the 20th century the Japanese planted Yoshino trees throughout their newly conquered domains as a means of demonstrating they were Japanese spaces. In Korea they destroyed the Korean national flower (mugunghwa, rose of Sharon) in the process and introduced the ritual viewing of the cherry blossom. The festivals continued after Korea regained its independence at the end of World War II, but the symbolism remained; a concerted effort was made in 1985, the 50th anniversary of Japan's surrender, to cut down the trees, but the movement failed. Koreans continued to plant Yoshino cherry trees, and the festivals became important tourist destinations. In response,Korean researchers asserted that the Yoshino is the same species as the King cherry, a Korean species indigenous to Jeju Island.

  2. However, most experts agree that the cherry blossom originated in China's Himalayan Mountains, were cultivated in royal Qin gardens in the 3rd century BCE, and were taken to Japan in the 8th century, though the eighth-century chronicle "Nihon Shoki" claimed "hanami" festivals were held as early as the third century. At first the custom was limited to the the imperial court but spread to the samurai class and eventually to the common people. The en masse blooming of the plants, the transience of the blossoms, and their exquisite beauty and volatility became symbolic of mortality and the graceful, ready acceptance of destiny. But as Japan became a world power in the late 19th century, the flower negan to take on a nationalistic role as well. Akiko Yosano (an extraordinarily prolific writer who could produce 50 poems in one sitting, she wrote between 20,000-50,000 poems and 11 books of prose) compared dead Japanese soldiers to sakura and urged urged the endurance of sufferings in China. The "Song of Young Japan" exalted the "warriors" who were "ready like the myriad cherry blossoms to scatter."

    During World War II, the cherry blossom was used to motivate the Japanese people, to stoke nationalism and militarism among the populace. Opposition to risking the entire navy in the battle of Leyte Gulf was countered with the plea that the navy be permitted to "bloom as flowers of death." The last message of the defenders of Peleliu was "Sakura, Sakura." A cherry blossom painted on the side of a bomber symbolized the intensity and ephemerality of life; and falling cherry petals represent the sacrifice of youth in suicide missions to honor the emperor. The first kamikaze unit had a subunit called Yamazakura (wild cherry blossom), and government propaganda encouraged the belief that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms. Early in the century, after the American government had helped enable the Japanese take-over of Korea, Japan gave 3,020 cherry blossom trees to the United States; they were planted in Sakura Park in Manhattan and lined the shore of the Tidal Basin in East Potomac Park in Washington, DC. The trees were almost cut down during World War II, but the exiled pro-independence leader Syngman Rhee (whom the Americans later installed as South Korea’s first president) held a new tree-planting event in 1943 and claimed they came from Jeju, not Japan.


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