I am fortunate to have a beautiful cherry blossom tree in my front yard, a few weeks ago when I picked a blossom off of the tree to bring into my home I thought about how fascinated we all are with them and after seeing so many photographs of the beautiful blossoms I wanted to know more about the legend and story behind the captivating beauty that I was holding on to after seeing these blooms appear over multiple platforms across the interweb. I want to share the Japanese folklore that I was able to research and discover.
Beautiful trees such as the cherry blossom tree, are often a reoccurring supernatural theme in religious folklore, both Shinto and Buddhist religions believe that spirits dwell in old or pretty trees, large ropes are tied to mark spirit trees and it is bad luck to cut down the marked trees unless you wish for a life of misfortune. Spirits are called Kami and the trees are called Kodama.
In Moricka Japan, exists a 400-year-old tree they call the Ishiwari-zakura or stone splitting tree, the tree planted its roots in to a large crack in a rock and it grew so large it split the rock. I love this story because it is a metaphor to plant your roots wherever you wish even if the world says it will be impossible to grow, like the cherry tree which splits the stone, we too can split the mental stones in our mind and take root wherever we set our hearts and minds. Like my blogs philosophy you are a canvas and the world is your gallery never limit yourself by being the rock when you can be the tree.
One beautiful myth is of a wet nurse who loved a child that wasn’t her own so much that she gave her life and also her soul to protect the child and give them life it is said the tree blooms on every anniversary of her death. It is rather beautiful that a human soul can give up a life to save another.
Other things the cherry blossom tree has symbolized are hope for samurai warriors while they were in battle, life and death and the fragility of it all as the trees bloom and shed their blossoms over a very short time and also used to bring good fortune.
My favorite folk-lore legend regarding the cherry blossom tree is the story that follows
A kind old man and his wife lived next to a mean old man and his wife, the kind man and wife had a beautiful white dog named Shiro who always had stones thrown at him by the mean man next door.
One day Shiro started to get really excited and began to dig, the man got down and dug with the dog and they discovered a treasure of gold.
The mean old man saw that his neighbor was striking fortune and asked if he could borrow Shiro to show him where he might also find a treasure of gold, the nice old man sent his dog next door and said find me gold too Shiro began digging in a certain spot the mean old man tied Shiro up and dug in the spot only to find a smelly garbage hole the man was so angry he killed the dog with a blow to the head with his spade.
The kind old man and women were very sad about the loss of their beautiful dog that they planted a pine tree in memory of him, in a few short years the tree grew huge. The woman remembered how much the dog loved rice cakes and suggested that they cut down the pine tree in order to make a mold for the rice cakes. The man was pleasantly surprised when he began to beat down the rice to make a cake and it turned to gold, if course the mean old man next door saw this and said hey neighbor can I borrow your mould so I too can be rich with gold and treasure, as soon as he began to beat down the rice to make a cake it turned into a smelly pile of smelly garbage so he axed the mould and burned it in his fire. The kind old man was so sad when he discovered is precious mould was turned into a pile of ashes so he asked for the ashes and decided to take them home.
Over the winter the kind old man decided to spread the ashes in his garden because all of the trees were bare but as soon as he tossed the ashes, the garden bloomed which attracted a prince whose biggest heart ache was that his own cherry blossom tree had died. The prince came for the old man and took him back to the kingdom, the old man took some of the ashes and tossed them around the garden of the prince. The tree blossomed with the most beautiful flowers and the prince was so happy he showered the nice old man with wealth and gifts and called him Old man who makes trees blossom. The nice old man and his wife lived to their end of days happy and rich.
In this story, the power of love creates miracles. I feel in our own world today love can create miracles. We can learn from both the kind old man and the mean old man, that life is often what you give. The kind old man remained kind and loved his neighbor even when his neighbor was unkind, because that’s who he was in his soul and life rewarded him. People in the world can be cruel and unkind but we must remember to be inspired by the story of the Man Who Made the cherry blossoms grow, he treats people like gold therefor he cultivates gold. As important as the kind man, we can learn a lot from the unkind man because he treats people like garbage and therefore he cultivates garbage.