Our Write Side Ink has another call for poetry submissions that sent me scribbling away like mad lately. The theme? Flowers exploring femininity. Now, if you know me, I’m going to put a twist on that femininity because a. I’m female and b. I’m a feminist, but hey, life would be boring if we were all the same, right? (Those of you interested in submitting can find the details here rather than Google for the link. You’re welcome.)
Anyway, I feel drawn to write about cherry blossoms in haiku form. Overdone, right? Yeah, I know, but I’ve never written one and even if it sucks, I’m determined to do this. So off I go on a researching binge to try to understand the Japanese love of the sakura. In doing so, I’ve come across some cool tidbits I think your brain will eat up.
Cherry blossoms represent the fleeting beauty of life to the Japanese. In the Western world, we can look to Thomas Moore’s famous poem “The Last Rose of Summer” or “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by poet Robert Herrick for a similar theme. For us, it’s roses; for the Japanese, it’s cherry blossoms. Further research into their culture and I learn that according to Japanese superstition, it’s bad luck to sleep facing north. Corpses are laid out facing north and that direction has long been associated with death.
Now, why is this important? Because blossoming starts first in Okinawa, in the southernmost part of Japan, and migrates north, hence symbolizing the transition of life to death. Using direction as a means of symbolism is hardly new. Think of how the sun rising in the east and setting in the west represents life and death, or even why so many westerns end with the cowboy riding off “into the sunset”. But for the Japanese instead of east to west, it’s south to north. NEAT, huh?
Well, that’s a thing you know now. And, as an added bonus, I will share this nugget I stumbled upon. In Japan, the number 42 “sounds like shini (死に – to death)”. Anyone who’s read Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knows the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. Ergo, I submit onto you that life equals death. There you go. Your afternoon philosopher right there. (Unless you read this at night or in the morning. Time is relative, after all.)
That’s it for now. Until next time, hugs and kisses, bye!