Annual Cherry-Blossom Alert

Today we share the latest edition of a general announcement that arrives in our email every year about this time—Curator Rob Singer’s much-anticipated annual report (with haiku) on the cherry trees seen from the Pavilion for Japanese Art:

Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
To: All Staff
From: Robert T. Singer, Japanese Art
Subject: 2010 Annual Cherry Blossom Alert

It has been an unusual cherry-blossom spring—because of all the rain and intermittent cold, the blossoms have bloomed at least twice, if not three times in the last month. This NEVER happens in Japan, where they bloom only once. At the present moment our ten cherry trees are a wonderful mix of cherry-blossom pink and new-leaf green.

Here are a few haiku and tanka, not all about cherry blossoms.

In spacious courts,
The courtiers and their ladies
Have time to spare;
Today again they beguile it,
Sprigs of cherry in their hair.
Yamabeno Akahito, Shin Kokin Wakashu, eighth century

Where is that luster now
in the past so beautiful?
Flowering cherry
only the bare trunk remains
stripped of its flowers and branches.
The Tales of Ise, tenth century

In a light sleep
The one I love appeared—
And ever since
It is dreams, only dreams,
That hold any hope for me.
Ono no Komachi, Kokin Wakashu, c. 905

Their colors may glow, but petals will fall.
Who in this world can stay unchanged?
Huge hills of life’s sorrow I’ve traveled over.
No drink or deceiving dreams for me.
Kobo Daishi, Iroha uta, 774-835

Robert T. Singer, Curator of Japanese Art

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