The cherry blossoms in Japan are starting to bloom.
Beautiful cherry blossoms always remind me of a monk from about 1,000 years ago.
He has been known as the greatest Waka(old Japanese poems) poet in the history of Japan.
His name is Saigyo.
He loved the cherry blossoms, and he left behind a lot of fantastic poems relating to the cherry blossoms.
When I was in junior high school, I first got to know him through a Japanese textbook.
I was a kid, so his difficult, old Japanese-style poems didn’t interest me at all.
But now, his poems have a profound impact on my life.
It is very difficult to explain Japanese old poems called, Waka in English.
The beautiful, original tune of Waka cannot be expressed in other languages.
Waka is an art of the Japanese old language.
But I’ll give it a try in English.
This is the most representative poem of Saigyo, “Let me greet my death under the cherry blossoms in spring. Then, the moon in Kisaragi will be full”.
Kisaragi means February in the Japanese old calendar.
This is a poem from when he was young.
Surprisingly, he died as he wished at the age of 72.
He had loved the cherry blossoms better than anyone else.
Saigyo was originally an honorable samurai serving in an Imperial Court.
In addition, he was brilliant and rich.
However, he became a monk suddenly when he was 23 years old.
He left everything including his wife and daughter, at the same time.
It’s a mystery why he became a monk.
He was a so called, hermit.
But I don’t sense the pessimism or discontent typical of a hermit from his poems.
His poems are so innocent and unpretentious.
Though Saigyo lived in honest poverty throughout life, his life was beautifully colored by his sensitivity.
I’m envious of him, and I have always been made to think a lot by his poems.