The sakura season is almost over in Tokyo, but I’m still in that mood. Maybe, a sort of sakura DNA that had been hidden in my mind is now awake. Last weekend, I went all the way to Yoshino in Nara prefecture to see “the best sakura” in Japan.
There is an expression to describe the mesmerizing scenery in Yoshino; “Hitome senbon,” means that you can see a thousand trees at a glance. At first, I thought it was just an exaggeration, but soon it turned out to be literally true.
There are thirty thousand cherry trees, of around 200 different kinds. In colors subtly graded from white to pink, cherry blossoms cover path after path, valley after valley, veiling all the mountains.
Mt Yoshino has been a site for religious training for monks for over a thousand years. Mountains are deep and the paths are steep. It’s not easy to climb up and I had to take rests again and again. However, whenever I stopped, different vistas of sakura opened out. It was breathtaking and filled me with joy.
Saigyo, the twelfth century Buddhist priest, lived in Mt Yoshino for three years. He wrote the following poem.
Hopefully, may I die
Under cherry blossoms in spring,
In the month of "Kisaragi"
Around the time of the full moon.
I adore Saigyo, but I don’t have the same thought because it’s a bit too early for me to imagine my last day in this world. Instead, I thought of coming back to Yoshino next year. Hopefully, even the year after next, as well.
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