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HISTORY

A true love story is what is behind the legend of the sakura or cherry blossom trees in Japan

Legend has it that the beautiful flowers blossom each year for a couple of days to reminds us that life is ephemeral despite its great beauty.

When spring touches Japanese lands, everything in the landscape changes from pristine white snow to colorful soils covered with cherry blossom petals. The sakura blossom is one of the most emblematic symbols of Japan, but behind these beautiful flowers, there is a millenary legend that leaves us great learning about true love.

The sakura, or cherry blossom, is a tree endemic to Japan that blooms announcing the arrival of spring. But beyond being a tree species that inhabit that region of the planet, sakura stands as a profound symbol for the entire Japanese culture. They symbolize the transience of life because throughout the year the trees gather their greatest nutrients to sprout their white and pink petals in spring. However, the spectacle lasts only a few days, as the flowers fall to the ground days before their blooming, the very representation that life is ephemeral despite its great beauty.

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In addition, sakura trees have different deep meanings for the Japanese that come from the millenary legend that teaches about peace and true love. This legend arose in ancient Japan when feudal lords led great battles for land dominance. At that time the country was plunged into war and sadness reigned.

The legend of Japan’s sakura

Legend has it that despite the gloomy atmosphere that shrouded Japan, in the midst of nature rose a beautiful forest untouched by war. Full of leafy trees that place had survived the sadness, but in the middle of it there was an exception. A tree that although it possessed a great strength in its branches, never bloomed, for this reason, the animals of the forest feared him and did not approach him, even the grass did not believe around him.

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According to the legend, a fairy of the forest was deeply moved when she saw how gloomy the arboreal being was. She decided to approach him and with noble words let him know that she wished to see him blossom like the other trees, so she proposed to cast a spell so that he could find the warmth of life, only then could he blossom from the shadows.

The spell would last 20 years in which the tree could choose at will between being human or remaining a tree, but its mission was to find the emotions that would help it blossom. At the end of this time, if it managed to recover its vitality, it would flourish; however, if it did not, it would die instantly.

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The tree accepted and tried living as a man for a long time, however, it only found deep sadness at the sight of hatred and war. He continued to wander as a man without finding anything in human life that could move him to find vitality. But one day while walking to a crystal clear stream to rest, he observed a beautiful young woman carrying water in the distance. Impressed by her beauty, the tree-turned-man decided to approach her and ask her name, then he learned that her name was Sakura.

The young woman was very kind to him and to reciprocate, he decided to help her carry the water to her home. On the way, they talked sadly about the war and the gloomy atmosphere that permeated ancient Japan. When the young woman asked the name of the tree, he could not think of anything else to say but ‘Yohiro’ which means ‘hope’.

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During the following days, Sakura and Yohiro met to talk, sing and read poems about hope and books with wonderful stories. Little by little love arose and one fine day Yohiro confessed to her who he really was; a tormented tree that soon would come to its death because it had not been able to bloom yet. Sakura very impressed kept silent, the term of 20 years was about to be fulfilled.

Then Yohiro returned to take the form of a tree, he had not achieved his purpose and on the contrary, he felt sadder every time. But one afternoon Sakura came to him and with great impetus embraced him to confess that she loved him too. In that instant, the fairy of the forest appeared again and told Sakura to choose between remaining human or merging with Yohiro in arboreal form.

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Sakura meditated for a moment and remembered the desolate fields of the war, without hesitation she chose to merge with her great love forever.

Yohiro finally found the warmth of life and together united in the same being they succeeded in blooming. Since then, love perfumed the fields of Japan in the form of sakura flowers or cherry blossoms, a symbol that reminds us that war only brings sadness and love, instead, fills the heart with colors and warmth.

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Story originally published in Ecoosfera

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