Thursday, 24 March 2011

‘Sakura’ and the ephemeral nature of life.



Since the 18th century, the Japanese have had a saying: ‘Mono no aware - 物の哀れ,’ which translates to: ‘The pathos of things’ and also the phrase ‘A sensitivity to ephemera’. Often translated literally as - "The 'ahh-ness' of things."

The term is a concept which is used to describe the transience of all things living and the gently sad awareness of impermanence and thus existence as we know and understand it. The tragic but inevitable business of dying.

THE CHERRY BLOSSOM ROAD INTO OLD AKASAKA -- A Fine Spring Day in Old Tokyo, Japan

Part of their cultural tradition, the Japanese believe deeply that a healthy and respectful awareness of the transience of all things in life and love, heightens our appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a wistful sadness at their passing.

‘Sakura’ is the Japanese word for ‘Cherry Blossom’, the symbol of blooming clouds en masse and an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life and nobleness. The Japanese cherish and celebrate the short lived beauty of the Sakura as an omen of good fortune, an emblem of love & affection and the traditional and much anticipated arrival of spring.


From now until late April, throughout Japan, it is the blooming period of the Sakura, when the cherry blossoms usually remain in bloom for little more than a week after reaching full-bloom.

The small, delicate, pink and white flower petals flutter to the ground gracefully and are at their most beautiful and visually enchanting during this brief and final stage of their life, before they inevitably wilt, die and fly away on the wind.


Fortunately, there is nothing in the least bit ephemeral about the refined philosophies and customs of the Japanese race pursee. Deeply rooted in the values of public courtesy, selfless modesty and utmost respect for their elders, seniors, neighbours and guests, they have learnt over the centuries, how to pull together in times of extreme hardship and difficulty, with an abundance of calm and stoicism while dealing with the all to often ghastly and life altering consequences of sudden natural selection and disaster.


Possessed of an inner strength and spirit that gives them the fortitude to quietly persevere and rebuild in the face of the most unimaginably terrible of circumstances, human suffering and extreme personal loss, they are layered with an inbuilt awareness of duty, honour and a shared responsibility to their wider community at large.

This is not just an issue or a subsequence of their historical and cultural heritage, social teachings and practices over the centuries, as it is an evolved state of our most worthy human attributes, caring values and a genuinely overwhelming sense of concern for the well being of their fellow countrymen and women.

Often missunderstood in the past, the Japanese have become increasingly defined and revered by the world at large in recent days by their universally touching examples of natural humility, civilised conduct and compassionately selfless concerns for those around them who can no longer look after or fend for themselves.

All of this is underpinned by a deeper natural understanding of reason, purpose and place in the wider scheme of life and life's ‘things’. They are, and will always remain a deeply resolute, well educated, hard working and highly disciplined society.

In the face of soul numbing horror and adversity, the Japanese have shown themselves - and not for the first time in recent history - to be an immensely strong, determined, uniquely decent and resilient race of the very finest of human beings - for the great many more of us more fortunate citizens of the world to collectively admire, learn and draw much wisdom and inspiration from.

Japan – an island nation steeped in clanlike history and tradition, full of breathtaking vibrant colour, extraordinarily natural and diverse beauty - and the  home to a warm, elegant and smiling people, possessed of great pride, passion, humour, dignity and human substance. No small wonder they share a weakness for Scotlands finest 'amber tipple industry' products.

 Our thoughts will remain with you all in the coming months and years as you somehow begin to piece together the lives and future needs of whole communities along your devastated north eastern coastline and later in some way, start to come to terms with the appalling scale of damage and such tragic and unjust loss of human lives. 

This is my small and personal homage to the many thousands of known victims and those that are still missing, their families, friends and loved ones - of the terrible earthquake and tsunami devastation that took place along the north eastern coast of Japan during the mid afternoon of
 Friday 11th March 2011.

The sun will rise again in Japan.....

For the continued fortitude and better favour of the indomitable and dignified people of Japan – 'The land of the rising sun.'

And thence by the grace of good fortune and 'Mother Nature'...go us.

12 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

A touching tribute to a suffering nation. It seems that even those who view them with justifiable resentment are having second thoughts.

Steve said...

Couldn't agree more. I have marvelled more at their fortitude and standing-together than I have at the scale of the disaster that has befallen them.

John Gray said...

nicely written phil
and no like your usual eclectic and sometimes meandering posts ( I always love em boyo.....but need at least 35 minutes , two cups of coffee and the phone off the hook- to enjoy them)

Phil said...

Hi Bananas: Thank you for the link within your comment. I didn’t know you could do that by the way. Very interesting and relevant article. Re China, let’s hope it helps to heal some of the old wounds and brings something constructive and workable to the table for their respective future generations.

My sincere apologies to you and Steve here, that you both unknowingly had to read my first draft version of this post earlier today. Very stupidly this morning, I somehow managed to ‘publish’ the first draft version of this instead of the re written ‘final’ copy which was sitting in a word file.

A cruel twist of fate for what I had set out and intended to be at the very least my best effort and attempt at penning a succinct and heartfelt personal tribute to all the good people and customs of Japan. I should have done them my best service earlier this morning, but I fell short of the mark at the rise of the flag on this occasion I’m afraid.

They deserve the best of us all from the onset right now, and nothing so much as slightly less will do.

Phil said...

Hello Steve: Well put. Echoes my own sentiments entirely and ditto to you too, my last three paragraphs to Gorilla Bananas above.

Hello John: Succinctly put sir. I still have much to learn from the improvement technique of ‘sauce reduction’ I’m afraid. Explains why journalists ‘do’ and joe bloggers like me ‘never will’ of course. Although our cousins in north eastern Japan deserve so much more than this simple scribe has to offer right now.

the fly in the web said...

Lovely tribute to stoic people.

Phil said...

Hi Fly. I've just been watching a documentary about the events to date. Deeply moving. Don't know where they start to deal with something as vast and destructive as this. Just know that they will.

Mark said...

It's very tragic in Japan, and we feel so helpless.

It is one of the few eastern countries I'd really like to go to - maybe one day.

Phil said...

Hello Mark. Helpless, impotent and yet extremely fortunate that our parentage placed us in this generally safe corner of the world. Like you, I've always wanted to journey there for a while.

Valerie said...

Beautiful and tasteful, Phil - and you're right - the people of Japan suffered one of the planet's most catastrophic events, yet, they seem to absorb a horrendous situation with their grace and courage which at each extreme I cannot even fathom.

Phil said...

Hi Valerie - I'm with you there too. It's too much to take in and quantify. The numbers and scale of it all are so vast. We struggle to grasp a realistic sense of proportion beyond the nickels and dimes. Thanks.

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