The Japanese are so classy
In early May 2015, I was a visitor to the cherry blossom area within High Park which is one of Toronto’s largest green spaces. It is crowded on most weekends. However last weekend was extra crowded and extra special. It was the Mother’s Day weekend and it was also time when the Cherry blossom trees were in full bloom.
I know that the Cherry blossom tree is a cultural icon in Japan and is the focus of the annual spring festival that country. I did some checking around and discovered that these blossoms do not turn in to fruits rather they fall gently off the tree and if you want to be cascaded by a shower of flower petals you know where to go.
This year I was fortunate to go to the park in the company of a friend from Japan. He was quite amazed to find familiar sight in a strange land.
The trees, numbering two thousand were first planted in 1959 and are therefore fairly old. (Remember that Friends line – “he is older than some buildings, but younger than some trees”) I am not sure how long these trees live and I wonder if there is some kind of tree replanting effort.
I did some research and discovered that a similar cherry blossom park was gifted by Japan to the city of Philadelphia USA as early as 1926 (to mark 150 years of U.S.A). I wonder how many thousands of visitors marvel at these trees all over the world.
The other fact that struck me about this extraordinary gift was its timing. Canada’s gift was in 1959, in the decade after the Second World War when large sections of Japan were bombed into submission, culminating in the only atomic weapons never to be used on this planet. Another “friendly” act by Canada and USA was the internment of their own citizens of Japanese heritage. The Bill of Rights be damned!
It must have taken a very large and forgiving national heart to try and forget the horrors of an earlier time and make this wonderful gesture. I shall try and go there every year to enjoy the flowers as well as to pay homage to wonderful country and culture.