Nihongo Instructor Club Japanese Language School in Azabu, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

April Guide sign

At this moment cherry blossom viewing season is in full swing throughout Japan.

Cherry blossoms have been utilized often in Japanese art including paintings and literature.

In Japan, a short-lived cherry blossom has traditionally been the symbol of the transient nature of life over the centuries.

Its beautiful existence has been appreciated and romanticized in tanka poems, the thirty-one syllable forms.

Below are famous tanka poems referring to cherry blossoms.


1  If there were no sakura in the world,

    How peaceful and calm

    The heart in spring could be!

(written by the ninth-century court noble Arihara-no-Narihira)

2  Hopefully, may I die

    Under cherry blossoms in spring,

    In the month of “Kisaragi”

    Around the time of the full moon.

(written by the twelfth-century Buddhist poet- priest Saigyo)

“Kisaragi” is the second month of the lunar calendar, and the time of the full moon is the 15th day of every month meaning

the 15th day of the second month falls on around the beginning of April of the solar calendar. He did die on the 16th of

the second month when cherry blossoms must have been in full bloom.

3  The flowers withered,

     Their color faded away while meaninglessly

     I spent my days in the world and the long rains were falling

(written by the mid eighth-century lady poet Ono no Komachi, famous for her beauty)

4  Some cherry blossoms are falling and the remaining blossoms are going to fall, too.

(written by Ryoukan, a famous Japanese Buddhist monk (1758-1831)

Cherry blossoms viewing party (hanami) is one way to enjoy its beauty, and reading these poems is another to appreciate it.

I hope these poems will help you understand that cherry blossoms have been deeply associated with the Japanese mind.

Nihongo Instructor Club

Azabu Juban Tokyo