A Collection of Photography, Poetry and Symbolic Significance of the Cherry Tree
(All photo’s credited to myself)
Cherry Blossom season is in full swing with an explosion of candy cotton pink pom-pom petals brightening up the land.
There is no denying that the cherry blossom tree is a euphoric sight to behold, especially when it is in full riotous bloom. It never fails to disappoint as each year I am awe-inspired by its mesmerizing beauty, the colours I find so comforting and enlivening.
Beauty aside, there is much more to their splendour than meets the eye. The symbolic meaning of cherry blossoms in Japan runs eons deep, making the country’s national flower a cultural icon revered around the world not just for its overwhelming beauty, but for its enduring expression of life, death and renewal.
Join me as I explore its deeper meaning and cultural heritage, along side some of my cherry blossom inspired photography and poetry.
THE SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM
The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. For them the cherry blossom represents the…
…Beauty, fragility and transience of life.
In its full glory, the cherry blossom’s lifespan is tragically short-lived; one gust of wind and they are gone. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short. It speaks of the fragility of life so serves as a reminder that life is precious, and not to be taken for granted. It offers a valuable lesson for us to live life to the full, seizing the moment and cherishing what we have.
The Saumurai Warriors of Japan revered the cherry as a symbol of the ‘ideal death’ since the blossom fall at the moment of its peek beauty. They saw it as a short-lived life of great beauty, and taught them not to fear death.
The wisdom of the cherry tree doesn’t end there. “It acts as a timeless metaphor for human existence”, explains travel writer Helen Suk, who speaks of its Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present…
“…The cherry blossom Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived — a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting...Why don’t we marvel at our own passing time on earth with the same joy and passion? Why do we neglect to revel in life when it can end at any moment, or in the grace surrounding us everywhere: our family, friends, a stranger’s smile, a child’s laugh, new flavours on our plate or the scent of green grass? It is time, cherry blossoms remind us, to pay attention.” ~ Helen Suk
Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
The Cherry Blossom’s arrival at the beginning of spring signals a time of renewal, hope and optimism. It also completes several life cycles of life, death and rebirth during its annual cycle, therefore serves as a perfect example of life’s ability to regenerate after death.
Without the demise of its flowers in spring, the fruits would not grow in summer. Plus, the fall of its fruit in late summer provides food for the birds to eat, therefore in sacrificing its fruit, the tree ensures its survival as birds disperse seeds into the soil where it can grow into new life. Another affirmation of life seeding life after death. It teaches us to LET GO and embrace endings in our own life, in the faith that we are enriched in the process and that new opportunities for growth will occur in time.
The symbolism of renewal ran deep in ancient Japanese culture as the cherry tree was “believed to represent the mountain deities that transformed into the gods of rice paddies. In Japanese folk religions, cherry blossom trees signified agricultural reproduction. It was during this time the Japanese travelled to the mountains to worship the trees every spring, then transplanted them to inhabited areas. Even today, when cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the Japanese believe the future is bursting with possibilities.
POETRY & PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY:
Cherry Tree by Yoshimine no Munesada
We cannot behold
the beauty of the blossoms
enshrouded by haze –
yet steal us their scent, at least,
spring breezes blowing from the hills.
Cherry Blossom by Randy McClave
I stare out at the cherry blossoms
In marvel and joy I watch them bloom
Then they burst out with their effloresces
As though awaking from mother nature’s womb,
And there I watch awestruck and in wonder
As though GOD splashed paint upon each branch
Through beauty, and only for beauty I cry a tear
As the blossoms explode in a pink and red avalanche.
No more beauty and wonder could one man ever see
Than watching the cherry blossoms upon a tree.
Cherry Blossom Prosody by Richard Shirky
O marvel at the grandeur of the trees
Who stand there steadfast through the winter freeze,
Awaiting sway and warmth of April breeze,
Which them from humble starkness becks and frees.
Not every year allows the tree full play.
Oft frost and snow deny the tree its way.
How patiently the boughs bear pruning day,
To gather strength toward their grand display.
And when at last the right year full of spring,
With buds the blackened branches whitening,
From pinkish wood finds hint in blossoming,
Fulfilling cherry red at blossoming.
Likewise the honey scent of cherry wood,
Expressed in fragrance which the flow’rs exude,
And sun-sweet nectar giving bees their food,
Will culminate in cherries sweet and good.
The flowering wonder is new life uncurled,
And to their task the bees their strength have hurled.
A million insects here their life unfurled.
The hungry, happy birds complete this world.
The early morning weighs the buds with dew.
The bold white contrasts well with noon sky blue.
At evening it’s a local mist we view,
And twilight gives a luminescent hue.
So sing the praises of the cherry tree,
That floods our hearts and senses wondrously.
The inner heart that finds expression free,
Will show in splendor God’s great harmony.
The closer we come to the negative, to death, the more we blossom. ~ Montgomery Clift