Spring Under the Cherry Blossoms

“What a strange thing!

to be alive

beneath cherry blossoms.”

Kobayashi Issa, Poems

Kobayashi Issa speaks of the beauty of life and the fragility of existence.

The brevity of life and the transient beauty of cherry blossoms compels us to reflect on the briefness of a human life. There is a subtle call to action, a reminder of cherishing our moments.  May we celebrate and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us with heartfelt enthusiasm.

What a strange thing!

to be alive…

Kobayashi Issa was a renowned Japanese poet of the Edo period. He was born in 1763 in Kashiwabara, Shinanao province, a small village in the Kiso region of Japan. He was the son of a farmer and grew up in a rural environment, surrounded by nature. His poetry is known for its humor and lightheartedness, often featuring animals and nature.

Kobayashi’s pen name Issa, means “cup of tea” or, according to poet Robert Hass, “a single bubble in steeping tea.”

Issa Kobayashi, wrote over 20,000 haiku in his lifetime, and his works are still read and cherished today. He was a popular teacher, and his students included some of the most famous haiku poets of the time.

Despite the popularity of his works, Issa’s life was not easy. He suffered from great financial instability, and his works were not always well-received. He was often criticized for his unconventional style of writing, and he struggled to make a living. Despite these hardships, Issa continued to write despite adverse circumstances. His works are a testament to his perseverance and determination,

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

48 thoughts on “Spring Under the Cherry Blossoms

  1. What could be lovelier than bursts of bloom on Japanese cherry trees! Except maybe your reading about them in bowers over head. Thanks for the rendition here.

    This poem brings to mind another poet, A. E. Housman, who wrote lines about cherry blossoms in the snow (from A Shropshire Lad)

    Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
    Is hung with bloom along the bough,
    And stands about the woodland ride
    Wearing white for Eastertide.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for joining me “under the cherry blossoms” Marian. I am delighted that you mentioned A.E. Housman and “The Shropshire Lad.” I have been wanting to explore Housman’s poetry this year and you gave me the reminder that I should start immediately on this “project.” I know that he wrote many poems, including the well-known collection “A Shropshire Lad” that you mentioned. I have read that his works are known for their vivid imagery and strong sense of nostalgia, as well as their exploration of themes such as mortality and the passing of time. What interests me is that he was a classical scholar who could move between his work as a scholar and a celebrated poet.

      I am delighted that you brought this up, Marian – many many thanks.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. These beautiful words both of you quoted make me wonder if a large part of the beauty we see in those blooms and blossoms is because of their brevity. If they were always there, would we appreciate them as much? Would we notice them at all? We notice the freshness of the air after the rain, but if it was always as fresh, would we notice it at all?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A very good point, EW! Poetry reminds us that life is finite but our ideas and creativity have the potential to live on in others. The cherry blossom is a symbol of beauty, renewal, and hope in many cultures around the world. It is often seen as a symbol of springtime and the fragility of life, as the blossoms are short-lived, but full of beauty and life. And yet, we know that those same blossoms will come back again – in a different form. That gives me great comfort.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. My dear friend, Cindy! Thank you for your heartwarming and encouraging comments. What I love most about photography is that is stops time, crystallizes moments to that we can return to them over and over again. I am grateful that you share your moments in photography. You capture the beauty of our fellow creatures and reminds me that we share this earth with amazing friends.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Shey – they are the loveliest blossoms. I am delighted that you traveled virtually to my side of the world to share this moment of reflection. The best part of virtual travel – no jet lag!! Sending hugs back your way.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for joining me at the Buchart Gardens in Victoria B.C., Scott! It was a rainy day. Burchart gardens have hundreds of umbrellas ready for such weather. The umbrellas have see through plastic that allows us to look up without feeling the raindrops (well, it was more than just a few raindrops). We were soaked but it was a wonderful day to explore the gardens.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this reflection Dave. I am inspired by Essa’s determination to continue his poetry despite many setbacks. I read that Essa’s life was filled with many hardships. Born into a poor family in rural Japan, he had to work from a young age to help support his family. He faced discrimination and prejudice due to his background and had to work hard to overcome these obstacles. But it was his personal losses that were profound. According to the Poetry Foundation.org, “his life was marked by sorrow— the death of his first wife and three children, an unsuccessful second marriage, the burning down of his house, and a third marriage.”

      Is it possible that exploring our creative spirit that we find healing? It is something that I will think about in the coming week.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. These words might be within reach, but they have such a deep meaning, which is haiku’s mystery!
    May I add: …among this magnificent beauty.
    You bring Spring to us! Thank you, dear Rebecca.🤗🙏💖🌹

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My dear friend, Alaedin – thank you for much for your support and encouragement. I am delighted that you joined me for a moment of reflection. We have had much rain in the past two months. Looking forward to the spring sunshine!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me under the cherry blossoms, Deborah. This was a video from our visit to Butchart Gardens in 2022. It was a very rainy day, perfect to capture the feeling of an ancient Japanese garden.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Simply exquisite, Rebecca. Our winter has arrived late but in earnest. (Who is this Ernest guy, I want to have a talk with him!) Your beautiful video arrived just in time. As you know, Issa is one of my favorites, and I’m so glad you sourced Robert Hass. His 1994 “The Essential Haiku…” is indeed essential for those who deeply appreciate haiku. Just lovely. And if you don’t mind, here is my little contribution: https://maryjomalo.wordpress.com/2021/07/09/3-haiku-by-kobayashi-issa/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for adding to this conversation, Mary Jo! I especially appreciated your words:

      “These haiku are among my favorites by Issa. Robert Hass, author of The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, & Issa, (HarperCollins, 1994) is an excellent editor and translator. Background material for each poet is so comprehensive, I’m walking and observing alongside them. Every precious moment and memory feels familiar, whether I’ve experienced them or not. It’s comforting to know not every haiku they wrote was great.”

      It is indeed comforting to know that not every haiku they wrote was great. But they continued, know of that imperfection. It is a reminder to me to keep on moving forward without the need for perfection. Perhaps it is in the “lack of greatness” that we find perfection.

      P.S. Keep that book by Robert Hass close at hand – it is a treasure. I searched for a copy and found three options via Amazon. The paperback version was $67.33CAD and the Hardcopy $173.35CAD (only 5 left in stock)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are most welcome, Rebecca. I just searched for the Robert Hass book and found much better prices for the Amazon U.S. site. I have the 1994 paperback edition, and I suspect the 1995 version is as good or better. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this moment of reflection, Robbie. As I was creating the video, what came to mind was Felix Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words. This is a collection of eight pieces of music composed by Mendelssohn. The pieces are all short and lyrical, and each one is meant to evoke a certain emotion or mood. The pieces range in style from the romantic to the classical, and they all have a unique character. Felix Mendelssohn never wanted to put words to his music Song Without Words. He believed that the music should speak for itself and that the listener should be able to interpret the emotion of the song without needing words. He was a firm believer that the music should be able to stand on its own without the need for words.

      I found this quote by Felix Mendelssohn: “What the music I love expresses to me, is not thought too indefinite to put into words, but on the contrary, too definite”.

      Isn’t it interesting that diverse ideas come together when creating. Issa and Felix.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca, this is such a beautiful post. These gorgeous images and then learning about Issa. I’ve studied poetry for a long time, but my education of poets outside the western tradition (and more specifically mainly British and American and Canadian) is so lacking.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for joining me under the cherry blossoms, Luanne. I confess having very little knowledge about Haiku, Tanka and other forms of syllabic poetry. My thanks goes to Mary Jo Malo, Liz Gauffreau, Robbie Cheadle, and Colleen Chesebro for sharing their poetry, knowledge and guidance. They opened a new area of creative endeavour, for which I am truly grateful. I am looking forward to our ongoing conversation. So glad that we connected.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have only recently begun writing syllabic poetry (for the most part–I’ve written haibun in the past). I am doing it because it felt like a weakness so I am working on developing it :). Yes, I’m glad we connected as well!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Spectacular and breathtaking video of the cherry blossoms, Rebecca.
    You already have cherry blossoms in Vancouver?
    Late April – early May is when they bloom here.
    I found this on a page with examples of his work. https://www.masterpiece-of-japanese-culture.com/literatures-and-poems/haiku/kobayashi-issa-haiku-poems
    I quite like it. It makes me feel happy!

    春風や 牛にひかれて 善光寺

    Harukaze ya/ Ushi ni hikarete/ Zenkoji

    The spring breeze.

    Being pulled by a cow

    To the Zenkoji temple.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for joining me under the cherry blossoms! We are heading into a snowstorm tomorrow and are experience colder weather than we usually have at this time of year, but I know that spring is impatiently waiting for winter to move on! LOL

      Mary Jo Malo introduced me to the 72 Seasons. This is the ancient Japanese calendar in which the year is divided into 24 and then 72 separate seasons. We are now in the “Rain Water – Haze First Covers the Sky” season which is approximately between February 24 – Feb 28.

      Today, Mary Jo celebrates entering the micro season of Haze First Covers the Sky”


      Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for the really outstanding video, so beautiful! Absolutely lovely picture after picture of beautiful cherry blossoms! Such a lovely podcast to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It was very good for me to learn about this outstanding Japanese Poet! Can you imagine a person being able to write that many poems? This post was an excellent introduction to the spring season that is just about here on our beautiful North Vancouver’s west coast!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed the video, Frances. These photos were take at our last visit to Buchart Gardens. I’m looking forward to our next visit in a few weeks. Crossing my fingers that we will have sunshine!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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