The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

The Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC ought to be about at their peak right now.

The cherry trees were a gift form the mayor of Tokyo to the city of Washington DC in the year 1912. 

Below is an excerpt from an interview with a sixteenth generation Japanese gardener who is an expert on cherry trees. The full interview may be read here. Enjoy the article and the blossoms.



In Japan, tourists are admonished to visit Nara for traditional architecture, but for gardens, to head to Kyoto. The latter’s many temple and estate gardens have survived the centuries remarkably intact, and many new gardens have been constructed since the Meiji era (1868–1912), allowing visitors today to enjoy landscaped views dating from modern and ancient times.

Over his 70-year career, sixteenth-generation gardener Sano Tōemon has tended some of Kyoto’s most renowned gardens and laid out new creations in Japan and abroad. The energetic 90-year-old is especially known for his expertise with flowering cherry trees and has earned the venerable title sakuramori, “guardian of the cherries,” in recognition of his superior knowledge and talents.

INTERVIEWER  You’re involved with a project surveying well-known trees that was started by your predecessor from two generations ago. What can you tell us about that?
SANO TŌEMON  The fourteenth Tōemon began collecting information on famous flowering cherries during the Taishō era [1912–1926]. At that time traveling wasn’t as easy as it is now, but if he heard about a famous tree he would rush off to wherever it was to investigate. People around him said his “sakura fever” bordered on obsession. To him, though, it was a race against time. He feared the destruction of Japan’s natural environs and wanted to document the trees before they were gone forever.
He made detailed drawings and collected information on trees. My immediate predecessor catalogued these works, which I compiled into a book. The research project is still ongoing. Staff here at Uetō collect data on trees, including carefully hand drawing each section of flowers from the petals to the stamen.

I don’t see cherry blossoms as something to simply sit and admire. They are an annual finale for the trees. They spend the entire year preparing to bloom, and each season produces subtle variations, like in the color of petals, that reflect fluctuations in weather and other conditions over the previous twelve months. Rather than gawking at the flowers, I feel like commending the trees for their hard work.

2 comments:

walt said...

This week the news has been replete with Zuckerburg, Facebook, Zuckerburg, Facebook . . . on and on. Then I come by The Kitchen and read of Sano Tōemon, who has attended trees for 70 years. Hmm . . .

Brings to mind a phrase that comes to mind often these days, as I observe my fellow men: "Same planet, different worlds."

Thanks for the post!

Rick Matz said...

You have to be somewhere and doing something, but you get to choose.