Most people are familiar with the amazing photos of cherry trees in full dramatic bloom (called sakura in Japanese) along the banks of the Potomac in Washington DC. What many don’t know is that the Mayor of Tokyo also donated 2000 trees to Toronto in 1959. These have just sprung to life in High Park this weekend, so do whatever it takes to get there and see this awe inspiring sight.
Toronto’s High Park boasts more than 2000 sakura planted around the shore of Grenadier Pond. These trees were a gift from Japan, presented in 1959 by the Japanese Ambassador to Canada. They are a gift of appreciation from the citizens of Tokyo to Toronto for accepting relocated Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War.
Sakura have special significance in Japanese culture as does hanami, picnicking under the blooming sakura. Indeed, hanami has been a big, big deal in Japan since the Nara Period (710-794). Embodying that ephemeral quality of life, sakura are featured prominently in Japanese art and poetry and is as significant today as it was hundreds of years ago. In Japanese culture they are a metaphor for life: the transience of the blossoms; the way they burst into life, with staggering beauty, followed so quickly by their death. It’s a sight to behold. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, you should do yourself that favour.
You probably have about 3 days left before the blossoms fade and drop. Walking under this extended pink and white canopy is like being on a movie set – but it’s all very real. With the disaster and pain that has befallen Japan this year, come see why “Sakura Hanami” is such an important tradition. It is nothing short of the ultimate spring ritual of hope.
All photos by Toy Garage Photography.