My apologies for being away from this blog for quite a while. Unfortunately, I was ill and in the hospital. I got very good care, and am now recuperating, but it did limit what I could do. I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I will be able to get back to posting more regularly. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos.
Spring is slow in coming to our part of the USA this year, but my Korean students tell me that spring is well under way in Korea and that there are “lots of flowers.” We were in Seoul last April and really loved all the spring flowers and flowering bushes. So, these few photos can remind us of that time.
Cherry blossoms are beloved around the world, but especially in Japan, China and Korea, where they have special meaning and significance, besides being beautiful and attracting visitors.
Cherry trees seem like clouds as they bloom en masse, and look like a canopy of soft color when one walks under them. Soft and velvety petals cascade from the swaying trees, drifting down slowly, like the first soft snow flakes of winter.
The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. For the Japanese, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is beautiful but that it is also tragically short. When the cherry blossom trees bloom for a short time each year, they are a visual reminder of how precious and how precarious life is. So, when Japanese people come together to view the cherry blossom trees and marvel at their beauty, they aren’t just thinking about the flowers themselves, but also about the larger meaning and deep cultural tradition of the cherry blossom tree. I will write more about cherry blossoms in Japan and post pictures at a later date.
The cherry blossom is the most prominent spring blossom in Korea, but is not as central to the culture as it is in Japan. However, the Korean people do also love to view the cherry blossoms and there are a number of cherry blossom festivals. In fact, in Korea sakura, used as a loanword, is the most common way to refer to the flower (the Korean word is beot-kkot), and the activity of blossom viewing also uses the loanword hanami (the Korean word is kkot-gugyeong).
Above and here are a few fun photos of cherry blossom petals, and other petals, that have driftedinto a small stream on the campus of Seoul National University. They look beautiful, but are also a reminder of the fragility and short life of these wonderful spring flowers.