Friday, October 9, 2015

Carpe Diem #835 Hanami (blossom viewing)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

In this festive Carpe Diem Haiku Kai month I just had to make an episode about the blossom viewing festivals or Hanami. These festivals are everywere in Japan and there are also a lot of other countries who have special blossom viewing festivals e.g Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (Canada).
And of course ... you know that I have my own little cherry blossom viewing festival as my Sakura is blooming. I have told you all several times about that hanami festival in my own backyard and shared several haiku and haibun about "my" hanami.

Today Hanami (blossom viewing) is our source of inspiration. Let me first tell you a little bit more about Hanami by sharing a waka by Ki no Tomonori (c. 850 – c. 904):

In these spring days,
when tranquil light encompasses
the four directions,
why do the blossoms scatter
with such uneasy hearts?

© Ki no Tomonori
Credits: Under The Cherry (woodblock by Utagawa Kunisada)

The practice of hanami is many centuries old. The custom is said to have started during the Nara Period (710–794) when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning. But by the Heian Period (794–1185), sakura came to attract more attention and hanami was synonymous with sakura.[5] From then on, in both waka and haiku, "flowers" meant "sakura."
Hanami was first used as a term analogous to cherry blossom viewing in the Heian era novel Tale of Genji. Although a wisteria viewing party was also described, the terms "hanami" and "flower party" were subsequently used only in reference to cherry blossom viewing.
Sakura originally was used to divine that year's harvest as well as announce the rice-planting season. People believed in kami inside the trees and made offerings. Afterwards, they partook of the offering with sake.
Emperor Saga of the Heian Period adopted this practice, and held flower-viewing parties with sake and feasts underneath the blossoming boughs of sakura trees in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Poems would be written praising the delicate flowers, which were seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral. This was said to be the origin of hanami in Japan.
The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well. Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this. Under the sakura trees, people had lunch and drank sake in cheerful feasts.
The teasing proverb “dumplings rather than flowers”  (hana yori dango) hints at the real priorities for most cherry blossom viewers, meaning that people are more interested in the food and drinks accompanying a hanami party than actually viewing the flowers themselves. 
Credits: Hanami pic-nic Himeji Castle, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture Japan
Hanami is still a wonderful festival and that makes me happy. Hanami can not be missed it's the start of spring and points to the light part of the year.

such sadness
the spring wind has molested
cherry blossoms

© Chèvrefeuille
The Japanese were very anxious as the Cherry trees began to bloom and the wind of spring came. A last "cherry blossom" - haiku from my archives (september 2012) on cherry blossoms and their fragile beauty.

cherry blossoms
looking so fragile in the moonlight -
ah! the spring breeze
fading moonlight
caresses the fragile blossoms
finally spring

© Chèvrefeuille
I hope you did like this episode about Hanami or blossom viewing and I hope it will inspire you to write/compose an all new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 12th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Hina Matsuri (Girls Day), later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all here at our Haiku Kai.

No comments:

Post a Comment