SAKURA & SPIRITUALITY | Cherry Blossoms in Japan
moon at twilight,
a cluster of petals falling
from the cherry tree
- 正岡子規 Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)
Cherry blossoms have captured the imaginations of poets and artists for millennia.
The delicate flowers bloom only fleetingly – for about one week – before falling to the earth in a shower of pale pink petals.
And it’s this fleeting beauty which captures the essence of the Japanese aesthetic mono no aware.
SAKURA & MONO NO AWARE
Mono no aware is feeling sensitivity to the bittersweetness of impermanence. It’s about seeing the beauty in the ephemerality of life.
Just as the cherry blossoms are most beautiful when the petals start to flutter to the earth, life is preciously fleeting, and the even the most beautiful moments are temporary.
Mono no aware is a sweet, nostalgic, wistful emotion tinged with sadness.
But it also inspires a deep appreciation for life, with a renewed sense to cherish every moment.
And so, cherry blossoms have come to symbolise the transience of human life, hope, and renewal.
SAKURA & MYTHOLOGY
In Shinto mythology (Shinto being one of the primary religions in Japan), the goddess of cherry blossoms is known as Konohanasakuya-hime.
She was said to be so radiantly beautiful that when Ninigi-no-Mikoto (who himself was the heavenly grandson of Amaterasu Ōmikami - the Sun Goddess - and ancestor to the first Japanese Emperor) was walking along the ocean and caught glimpse of Konohanasakuya-hime, he begged her father for her hand in marriage.
Her father offered his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage instead, who was Iwa-Naga-Hime – the Rock Princess.
However, Ninigi-no-Mikoto was in love with Konohanasakuya-hime and chose to wed her instead.
The descendants of Ninigi-no-Mikoto and Konohanasakuya-hime were humankind, and it is because of this union that our lives are beautiful but fleeting, like cherry blossoms, instead of enduring and eternal like stone.