On a very cold and slightly raining Thursday morning, we welcomed 3 guests from Australia and U.K. It was so cold that some of us were sizzling while walking on the route. We divided into 2 groups.
However, in the garden, we could view sign of spring’s coming. The Ume (Plum or Apricot trees) are blooming. Actually, they are known as flowers of winter but they bloom when spring is near. The colors of petals were shining under cloudy sky. The smell of the flowers were so strong that you feel wearing cheap perfume.
Some foreigners mistake Ume for Sakura. But Sakura flowers are all pink-white. Less smelling and more gorgeous. They bloom a month later from now, between late March and early April. The temperature will get much warmer. SAKURA means we are in the spring time.
Every spring, somewhere in the city, shopping malls hold SAKURA festivals to celebrate arrival of spring. Sakura are most precious flowers among Japanese. For Japanese, SAKURA is not just flowers. They are like our souls.
For example, in a town named Higashinakano in Nakano Ward in TOKYO, there is a ongoing dispute with regard to cut down of SAKURA trees. Sakura trees are on a bank just above the railway near Higashinakano Station. The Ward Office and the railway company, JR East are trying to cut down some of the aged trees on the bank due to the risk of fall down of the trees or their branches. The trees were planted on the bank more than 60 years ago as a symbol of the town’s reconstruction after the second world war. But for the local residents and shop owners nearby the Sakura trees are symbols of the town. When they did the opinion survey on local residents who use the station, overwhelming majority were against the cut down of the trees. They launched the movement to preserve the trees and replant young trees after cutting down the too aged trees. However, the municipal government who owns the trees and the railway company who owns the bank seemed reluctant to do that because of safety and high maintenance cost. Some of the trees are already cut down. They plan to cut down 16 of 39 trees on the bank before this coming SAKURA blooming season. The fate of rest of the trees is unknown.
The locals are considering to raise fund to preserve the trees and to replant new trees and then search for methods to properly maintain the Sakura trees on the bank. Citizens are united searching for the ways to take care of Sakura by themselves, not just relying on the authorities. Sakura is causing new democracy in Japan.
There is a superstition that anyone who cuts down Sakura trees should be cursed. So the locals cannot let the trees cut down.
If you have a chance to visit Japan a month later from now, please enjoy viewing Japanese souls.