The path and the road were covered with a layer of blossoms that were everywhere fluttering down, dying at the moment of their greatest beauty.
The General spoke quietly, as much to himself as to Nicholai. ‘We have been fortunate. We have enjoyed the three best days of the cherry blossoms. The day of promise, when they are not yet perfect. The perfect day of enchantment. And today they are already past their prime. So this is the day of memory. The saddest day of the three… but the richest.’
– Shibumi, by Trevanian, 1979
If you happen to be in Japan at the very moment when the sakura, or cherry blossoms, have reached their peak, then you are indeed very fortunate. What is the magic in the sakura? Is it the intensity of the flowers, the different shades of pink, the way it creates a ceiling of petals above your head? In Trinidad & Tobago we have beautiful flowers blooming, such as the Poui trees, and while people may take notice, few regard it as a special event. But in Japan, sakura is an event that is celebrated and welcomed by all. Perhaps because it heralds in the spring, after months of cold, dark winter. Perhaps because you can sit outside, underneath the trees, and feel the warmth of the sun again, and drink a cold beer and enjoy that feeling of freedom and well being. Perhaps it is because this celebration of life, of warmth, of colour, of beauty, is so short lived. In the park, you can see some sakura finally reaching full bloom, while others just a few yards away are stark and bare, having already shed their flowers to the ground. It happens quickly. The rivers become full of dead petals, the water a sea of white flowers. On this day, the ‘third day’ that Trevanian described above, when the wind blows, the air fills with petals, like a light snow fall. This is what I believe people like the best – the realisation and understanding that this beauty, and this life that we have, is short lived, and after a riotous, vigorous bloom, everything returns to its bare bones.