A Gift from Sakura
Cherry blossoms (or sakura in Japanese) hold a special meaning to me besides being the ultimate symbol of Japan. That’s why every year we flock to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Sakura Matsuri, arguably the biggest cherry blossom festival in New York City and even America. The organizers put together a variety of activities to teach New Yorkers about Japanese culture, from tea ceremonies to akido demonstrations, but the draw for me is always the flowers.
Cherry blossoms symbolize the beginning of spring when people can go outside and celebrate the new season through hanami parties. They gather under the beautiful pink flowers and make merry, a unique Japanese tradition I hope to partake in someday. The sakura frenzy can also be spotted at stores. You can find sakura pancakes, sakura tea, sakura wine, sakura shampoos, and more. Cherry blossom season is a time of happiness and celebration.
There is another layer of meaning to cherry blossoms, however: They signify the transient nature of life because these flowers bloom for only about a week. As soon as the rain comes, all the petals fall down from the branches and the cherry blossom trees turn back into their former, flowerless selves. So resplendent in full bloom, but so quickly gone after a short time of glory.
It’s precisely this juxtaposition of the joy of new life in spring and the realization that life is short that draws me to cherry blossoms. It’s like the bittersweetness of life, a mix of the good and the bad. It’s the kind of thing that keeps us grounded—soak in the resplendent beauty of life, but don’t forget to treasure it because it’s short. It makes me wonder if I have been able to live up to that. Have I been trying my best? Do I have any regrets? How can I improve myself?
Spring is a new beginning, and cherry blossoms give us the opportunity to reflect on how to make the most of it. This is the gift from the cherry blossoms.