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THE LEGEND OF THE CHERRY TREE

At this time of the year, cherries pop up happily in shops and supermarkets heralding that summer has already arrived. Iím therefore going to tell you the legend of the cherry tree, a much cherished tree in Japan and to samurais in particular.

Japanese cherry tree

According to that legend, there once lived in Iyo (Japan) a samurai who reached a very old age outliving all his family members and friends. Nothing else was left for him to love except an old cherry tree that had been planted by his ancestors. In his childhood, the old samurai had played under the cherry tree and for generation after generation the members of his family had written lovely poems of praise to the tree and hung them to its branches.

One day, alas, the old tree withered and died. The samuraiís neighbours came and planted a new cherry tree. But the old man took the death of the tree as a sign that his life was also about to end.

He then went to his family garden where the dead tree was still standing and made a last wish: the three should bloom once more. And he vowed that if his wish were granted he would as well die. Though it were winter, the old cherry tree bloomed again and, true to his promise, the old samurai committed hara-kiri under its branches. His blood soaked down to the roots of the old cherry tree and it bloomed once again.

Legend holds that since that day, the old cherry tree blooms every year on the old samuraiís death anniversary, which is said to be the sixth day of the first month of the year, deep in the heart of winter.

There was a cherry tree in my parentsí old house and it used to bear so much fruit that the heavy branches had to be held by stakes. I wonder if the tree is still there...

© Dulce Rodrigues

 

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