this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr

for the main blog of poetry, whimsy and maybe beauty, now

Saturday, 19 April 2008

sakura and tsubaki

I went to Ijimino park again today. I was hoping to see the sakura (cherry blossoms) around the lake. I did see them, but we had some strong winds in the middle of the week, and the weather has been getting warmer, so, even though there were still blossoms on the branches, there were plenty of petals on the ground, and lots of green leaves mixed in with the pink and white flowers. Below, if you look closely enough at the stream, you can see the petals flowing to the lake.

Though the cherry blossom petals were expected, the number of camellia, or tsubaki, trees that were in the woods which surround the lake was not. During winter I didn't realise that the wood was full of tsubaki as they hadn't flowered yet. Today, however, many were in full bloom, and further to that, many had dropped some of their flowers. Tsubaki are one of the few flowers that brighten winter. In fact, they are meant to herald its end, and the picture below probably supports that notion. I don't think that they originally grew wild in the area, though quick research tells me that they did grow wild in the past so, who knows? Either way, they are part of the forest aspect of the park now. Traditionally, camellias are also kept in shrine gardens, and as the park has a small haka (grave area), maybe that is why they grow there.

Note that I said the trees had dropped their flowers and not their petals. The camellia has many positive and negative cultural associations, apparently, but the one that I know is that their blossoms can symbolise death. Usually they have short stems, and the whole flower drops from these to the ground when it is ready. Other plants lose their blossoms petal by petal, but the tsubaki, like those in the pictures above and below, can fall intact. The reading I have done also says that in times past, as the stems were too short, and as the flowers had fallen to and touched the ground, tsubaki could not be displayed in vases or the like. The reasons for this were the obvious practical difficulties, and that something which had been intact with the ground in that way was not suitable for display. I guess this resonates with the notion that one would not usually want to exhume or revisit a body once it had had its time on earth.

The sakura, or cherry blossoms, indicate a transient beauty. That is their role in Japanese flower-lore, I think, and a reason why their quick appearance and disappearance is celebrated with such ribaldry and joy. Therefore, when I saw the tsubaki fallen on sakura petals it seemed particularly poignant (see below). One, the passing of beauty, the other, the passing of life - but both the nurturers of further beauty and life as they are bound to rot and fade and sink into the earth from whence they came and from which they will spring again.


Fantasy said...

I just love to "travel" with you I get to see all the beauty of Japan, the History is an extra Bonus!
Thank You,

Fantasy :)

anglophile said...

Lovely words and images, liz. Thanks for the beauty.

lizardrinking said...

I always wonder who 'liz' is every time you say that 'glo! Then I figure it out. You are most welcome to partake of the images.

Fantasy, I'm sure there are camellias and cherry blossoms in your part of the world, but I am pleased that you are enjoying the ride :)

Crash said...

I say the cell phone pic's work awesomely rose.
And I like hearing about your day there too.
You have a way of finding an adventure in just about everything I read from you.
Kind'a makes me want to go.

lizardrinking said...

Travel's good for the soul, Crash. But I think you can also find these scenes where you are :)

this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr