Monday, 24 April 2017

hanami or casting shade

Æon magazine features an excellent essay by conservationist and philosopher Rebecca Gibbs on the celebration of Sakura (サクラ) , the short season of cherry trees going to blossom in Japan (read more about Japan’s concept of microseasons here), that’s customarily attended with hanami (花見) that is holding family and company picnics to enjoy and appreciate the transient beauty of the explosive over-abundance of Nature.
Informed in part by Buddhist teachings stressing the pathos or empathy toward the surrounding world, Gibb argues that these traditions that have been fostered for centuries does a better job in encouraging the public to care about environmental stewardship than the more tone-deaf and abstract campaigns that the West usually rely on. Appreciating a tree like the Lorax as a biome, a source of shade, oxygen, a home for birds and bugs is the message of Sakura, and it doesn’t demand one acknowledge a deeper beauty or go in search of one—after all, there are other well-established and familiar Japanese customs in gardening and pruning that speak to the cultural aesthetic, and seems like one that we are failing to grasp and adopt. What do you think? Perhaps we are all beginning to realise that Nature is not something separate from ourselves and our experience.