THE shape of a flower’s petal determines its type. I learned this as I was laying down the groundwork for this month’s column.
May is the flower month in the Philippines, but I was intrigued by television magazine shows that featured Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Based on the forecast published in Smile magazine, it will fall between March and early May.
Photographs and videos of the event show a landscape clothed in a pink cloud of petals and pink drizzles from heaven.
Since I’m a proto-millennial (primitive millennial, if I may create a new category for “generations”), I wanted to know more about sakura or cherry blossoms (materials from Wikipedia, Soranews24 and Japan.experience).
The sakura is Japan’s national symbol. This flower has a long history and cultural entrenchment that would not fit the size of this column. What I did learn is that it was chosen to represent Japan to differentiate the country from China, which is symbolized by the ume (plum blossom).
My first lesson was learning to identify between petals. Sakura petals have a cleft at the tip. I have seen YouTube videos of cats in Japan. I noticed that noraneko (stray cats) that have been neutered have their ears clipped like a sakura petal. They are renamed sakuraneko.
On the other paw, Ume petals are short and oval, while momo (peach) petals are pointed like a cat’s ears.
Ume blossoms, which have fragrance, come in a range of pink and deep crimson colors, but the scentless sakura range only between light pink and white.
This step in flower appreciation foretells how the festival flows beyond picnics, music, reunions and flower viewing. The festival offers more than aesthetic catharsis.
In the Japanese psyche and culture, sakura represents life itself. It reminds people that beauty is fleeting, and life is temporary. While a person admires the pink cloud around him, he has to meditate that life is short, even as short as the life of a sakura blossom. It lasts only a week.
The sakura offers hope in that every tree retuns to life every spring. It thus represents renewal, be it trusting God again, loving again, or standing up after a fall.
It is a cycle of life you can undertake, whether you are a Japanese or a native daughter of Cebu like me.