Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cherry blossom viewing at Japan Mint

I'm worried about a large earthquake in China and a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Cherry Blossom Lane on the site of Japan Mint in Osaka is opened to the public for cherry blossom viewing from April 14th to 20th. On either side of the lane, 354 trees and 127 varieties are blooming.

I'm going to show you a waka poem featuring cherry blossoms.

花の色は 移りにけりな いたづらに わが身世にふる ながめせし間に(小野小町)
"The color of cherry blossoms has faded while I was stranded because of rain. Likewise, my appearance has faded while I languished over love troubles", written by Ono no Komachi.

Ono no Komachi (小野小町, c.825—c.900) was a famous waka poet. She was also selected as one of the six most well known Waka poets (六歌仙 Rokkasen).

According to legend, she was a celestial beauty and beloved by many men.(Therefore "komachi" is used synonymously with a beauty.) A man was hopelessly devoted to her. She gave in to his persistence on condition that he had to come see her for 100 days in succession. On the 100th day, he suddenly died because of heavy snowfall.

In a noh play "Sotoba-komach(卒都婆小町)", Ono no Komachi comes on stage as an old beggar. The play depicts how she is haunted and tormented by the man's spirit.

Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫), a famous novelist in Japan, wrote a play with the same title "Sotoba-komach(卒塔婆小町)" based on the noh play. However, this story depicts beauty, love and death.
Everybody who tells her that she is beautiful is destined to die. Although she tried not to make her lover say so, he can't help but do it. She is destined to wait for him for 100 years.
The play is now on at a theater in Tokyo.

あだなりと 名にこそたてれ 桜花 年にまれなる 人も待ちけり(よみ人しらず)
"cherry blossoms last for few days. Some people say they are similar to an inconstant lover. But they are waitng for even one who rarely comes during a one-year period", author unknown.

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