Tag Archives: Sakura

The Sunday Reader: Sakura Edition

The cherry trees in Yokohama and Tokyo have been slow to blossom this year. According to the people who know about such things, the trees may not blossom as fully as in other years because our winter was not cold enough and our spring has been very cold. I’m no scientist and I’m certainly not a cherry blossom expert but I feel enormous gratitude to these trees for whatever blossoms they offer us.

A friend and I were texting about the blossoms the other day (we take this stuff very seriously in Japan) and I wrote: “It’s okay if full bloom looks different this year. The trees don’t owe us anything.”

The truth is that I don’t always blossom fully.

In late March I started a writing course with Martha Beck and here is the poem I wrote In response to our Week #1 writing prompt:


There was this time that I felt sad
but somewhere in that sadness
I suspected that my feelings
(my own precious feelings
that I’d spent a lifetime
learning to trust)
were lying.

How could that be?

With one eyebrow raised,
I turned towards my thoughts
which sometimes congregate
like a gang of thugs in the
darkest corner of my brain.
They looked embarrassed
as if they’d suddenly looked down
and found themselves naked
in Biology class.

Not so tough now.

I reached in and found
the sadness thought.
My inner wise-woman
held this thought up to the light,
pulled out her magnifying glass
and squinted, all truth-seeing.
That’s when the cracks showed up.
The fissures.
The fear
that caused the thought
that caused the sadness
in the first place.

For some time I carried
my Fearful Thought,
a small pitted seed,
in my pocket.
Several times a day
I sent it tiny love notes.
“Hello, dearest one.
I know why you’re afraid
and I know why you lied.
Patience, love.
Patience and peace.”

Walking home
from school one day
the Fearful Thought rustled
inside my pocket so I picked it up.
It was larger and had grown
a new green dress of moss.
The Fearful Thought whispered,
“I’m ready to be true.”

I planted the thought
at the base of a hill
where I could see it
every day and it grew
into a sapling and I sang
love songs as I went by.
“You’re doing such a good job growing.”
And the sapling drew
on all those good things,
the love and the sun and the rain,
and grew into a cherry tree.

At the end of March
each year, that tree
explodes with soft white truth.
The cherry blossoms dance
in the wind, each one connected
to the branch, each one surrounded
by joyful sibling-blossoms
that groove and sway
and call my name
as I walk home from school.

So I grew my truth like a sakura tree
and came to love my fear.

Of course, my hand was shaking as I hit “Post to Forum”. I wondered if anyone would read it or comment. I was seized with “not good enough” feelings which grew into regret which then morphed into something that felt a lot like panic.

Gently I called off my anxiety-induced take-off. I breathed deeply {inhale ~ exhale} and then followed my own damned advice.

“Hey, Monna. It’s not about how ‘good’ this poem is or how many people like it. This is you bravely and gently exploring your own inner life. This is about expressing what’s inside you. This is about making meaningful connections with other people through writing. As Brene Brown said, ‘The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.’ Your writing is about ME TOO. This is about you blossoming and there’s absolutely no way to do it wrong.”

There’s no way to do it wrong.

I spent a couple of hours reading and commenting on the gorgeous and astonishing writing of my fellow light-writers, more than 400 of them. It felt like dessert, like a hug, like sleeping in on a rainy Sunday morning.

There’s no way to do it wrong.

That’s also true about the Geography of Now.

Geography of Now begins Monday April 10th

Sunday is the last day to register for this online course and this will be the last time I offer the course in this way.

This course is for you if:
* You need an injection (or inoculation) of creativity in your life
* You’d like to pay more attention to the beauty all around you
* You want to take more photographs and go on some lovely photo-walks in your own neighbourhood
* You have a deep craving to write. (Please note that you can respond to the prompts with poetry OR prose.)
* You’d like to share your photos and writing in a super-supportive environment
* You want to practice gratitude

If you’re looking for a reawakening, here you go.

This piece was first published as The Sunday Reader. If you’d like to receive these letters, sent every second Sunday, directly in your email inbox, you can subscribe here.

Japanese word for cloud

The Japanese word for cloud is kumo.
{It also means spider but that’s another poem.}

Home FieldCanadian summer
is short
but sweeter
for the shortness.
We spent
golden days
driving in
pried wide open
in Ontario,
by pioneer ancestors
just off the boat from
potato famines,
in Alberta
land claimed
and cleared
by their fierce
homesteading cousins.

cloud lake louiseOver vast spaces
sculpted by nature
and snatched from ancient forests
hung rolling fields of clouds.

cloudBanffIn Tokyo
and her surrounding cities
(the names of which
sounded to me
not so long ago
like tire companies
and motorcycles)
clouds are served
in slivers
on blue platters.
Cloud shavings
fall sideways
between columns
of gleaming glass
and concrete.

cloud coke signClouds
over Tokyo
revise themselves,
turn sky-sakura,
impermanent blossoms
transform this city,
home to more
than all of Canada.

cloud sakuraOver these cities
cloud formations
and shift
once more.
I wonder
if this is the world
re-setting itself.
Try again.

cloud yoko bldgTruly, Madly, Deeply,
a British film
for romantics
and people
who now find
themselves old.
A language teacher
and her Latina student
walk through a park
naming what they see.
I see clouds.
in Spanish.


Cherry Blossoms 2.0

The end of the cherry blossom season in Yokohama’s Sankeien Gardens + the company of my mom and my friend Barb + unlimited time to wander with 2 cameras = a perfect afternoon in Japan.

{You might also enjoy Cherry Blossoms 1.0}

Dreaming of Cherry Blossoms

{Photo Credit: Another side of yukita}
This photograph makes me so happy. I went looking for a photograph of cherry blossoms on Flickr’s Creative Commons and found this gorgeous shot which, coincidentally, was taken by Yokohama photographer Masayuki Takaku. You can check out his photographs of this year’s sakura (cherry blossom) season here.

Why is the image of cherry trees in bloom so universally appealing? The blossoms signal the beginning of spring and symbolize new birth… a fresh start. After the long winter, the world explodes in a riot of pink softness and abundance. I believe that the new blossoms inspire feelings of hope in us and that sign of hope is particularly significant for Japan this year.

DP and I leave for Yokohama, Japan on Sunday; we have an amazing opportunity to visit to our new school. I will spend a few mornings with the current Grade 11 and 12 counselor and possibly meet some of the current students. (Wow… I have butterflies of excitement and nervousness about meeting the new kids!) In the evenings, we’ll hang out with friends, get acquainted with Yokohama and perhaps we’ll even see the apartment that we are taking over from the same lovely woman whose Bangkok apartment we moved into when we arrived in Thailand two years ago.

Of course, while we’re in Japan, we’d love to see the cherry blossoms. I’ve read that the cherry trees are blooming a bit later than normal because of the cold weather. According to this site, the estimated best viewing dates in Yokohama are April 6-14.

Although I’m an optimist by nature, I honestly don’t know if the cherry blossoms will be able to wait for us. It’s okay. A year from now, we’ll be living in Yokohama and perhaps we’ll be sitting beneath a light pink hanabi-awning with friends we have not yet met. I feel hopeful… about the blossoms and about living in Japan.

{Photo Credit: domat33f}

If you’re going to be in Tokyo in the next week, Time Out Tokyo recommends the following locations and creative spots for your hanami party:

For more Monday dream, visit The Mother of all Trips.

What or where are you dreaming of this week?