被爆桜 "hibaku sakura" Atomic-blasted cherry trees still bloom

被爆桜 "hibaku sakura" Atomic-blasted cherry trees still bloom. Click image to go to the source

On NHK this Saturday morning, there was a short program about the “atomic-blasted cherry trees” 被爆桜 (hibaku-sakura). (Apparently this was a re-run of a May 4th program).

A number of cherry trees along the river in Hiroshima were directly hit by the atomic blast, August 6th, 1945. Yet, miraculously, they bloomed the following spring, lifting people’s hopes and hearts.

Mr. Yoshida was a young man of 15 in Hiroshima on that fateful day. He recalled seeing dead and dying people in the cherry-tree grove by the river, many propped up against the trees. “I guess this place is haunted by many souls,” he said as he visited the grove this spring. Mr. Yoshida was hospitalized with radiation poisoning after the blast. He lost all his hair. He was deeply moved to see the blooming trees when he finally left the hospital the following spring. Mr. Yoshida is now 81. His wife is 78. She was also injured by the blast on August 6th.

This kind of cherry tree, somei yoshino ソメイヨシノ, lives about 60-80 years. Approximately a human life-span. They are coming to the end of their lives.

I like this story. It celebrates life. For once, the viewers are not force-fed the Japanese humanist religion of “respect for others, solidarity with others”. This story is not about how we should remember the poor victims and show them our respect and sympathy: it is just a celebration of life, its power, its quiet, slow, peaceful, joyous expression. Something that I find cherry blossom expresses so well.

幹から幼い枝も生えてきていて、まだまだ生命力はありそうです。

幹から幼い枝も生えてきていて、まだまだ生命力はありそうです

From the blog 団塊世代の人生時計

Here’s a video from 2009, about a girl’s school in Hiroshima who took cuttings from a cherry tree in the grounds of their school and sent them to every school in the country with a request and wishes for peace.
[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuwI3l8r36s’]