The Sakura Vexations

Posted on Friday, April 08, 2011, under ,

It is the season of cherry blossoms. It is also the season of by-elections. And this year in particular it is the period of post-tsunami aftershocks, both literal and mental. The period of rebuilding the humbled towns and villages, of re-solidifying the country’s collective as well as many personal identities. Many have predicted it will take years. Some say the ‘new identity’ is bound to emerge: more honest, straightforward, transparent, less evasive, less self-interested. Maybe these are the new platforms on which the local politicians plan to pick up votes. Who knows. The only thing we are able to hear from the blaring speakers mounted on top of the canvassing vans, which incessantly cruise the cities and towns nationwide, are the usual slogans and the ubiquitous repetitions of the candidates’ names, morning day and night: Matsuda san! Matsuda san! Vote Matsuda! Thank you very much for your attention! Thank you so very much! Matsuda san! Matsuda… followed by a touch of Japanese irony: We are truly sorry to make so much noise! We sincerely apologize… Matsuda san! Vote Matsuda! — and so on, making you wish Matsuda-san suddenly materialized so you can punch him straight in the face.

The Happy Hopefuls

The public spaces where sakura are blooming are turning from places of wonder to tiny battlefields, where people are pushing, shoving and elbowing each other for that ‘perfect-angle’ digital snap. What’s even more surprising is that the usual ‘sumimasen’ and ‘gomenasai’ (pardon, excuse me), the hallmark expressions of Japanese politeness and awareness, are largely absent in these instances. Such is the commotion and hurry as if the blossoms would vanish the very next minute. As if people are so drawn in by the call of the annual exercise, they suddenly start regarding their fellow man as no more than a physical obstacle jeopardising a certain photographic mission. Insane. Yes, the beautiful sakura trees are very much about, but the access to them is perilously linked with the crowds and the potential annoyance they bring. To find a solitary cherry tree in a pristine, natural environment is truly a rarity these days. Unless you are lucky to live in the country, or perform a monk’s duty at a remote Zen temple. There, perhaps, one could truly become awestruck and consequently pen a haiku or two.

The following images were taken three days ago around Shijo-Kamogawa in central Kyoto (obstacles notwithstanding). Click to enlarge

April 08, 2011

edit post

0 Reply to "The Sakura Vexations"