Drinking Under The Sakura Trees

■Book 111 - Roving Over The World

■Written by GrandMaster Sheng-yen Lu

It is logical for Japanese to like pine trees as they can be seen everywhere. The Bonsai, which are pleasing to both the eye and the mind make full use of all kinds of pine trees.

I am told Japanese are like pine trees, very easily moulded. They will bend whenever asked to do so. It is therefore easy to manage Japanese.

Among the trees, Pine is full of vitality. With a combination of hairy root, mobile trunk and elegant bending and lifting style, it plays an important role in this world.

I like pine trees too. I used it as the subject of my painting. Pine has the following features:

1. The tree trunk is firm, forceful and ostentatious.

2. The branches first slant downward, before shooting up.

3. The beard-like leaves, are full of vitality.

4. The fruits are hard.

5. The flowers do not look like any flowers.

I like to stand beside a pine tree and admire its majestic appearance.

Apart from pine, Japanese like bamboo too, it seems there is a special course dedicated to the study of bamboo trees in Japan.

The surface of bamboo is fine and smooth but it is tenacious and tough.

There is nothing inside the bamboo, in Chinese it means modest and open-minded.

The growth of bamboo is orderly and methodical.

The bamboo trunk is self-reliant.

And its leaves are beautiful.

It grows upright into the sky.

The first thing I learned in Chinese painting was to draw bamboo. The experience was very unique. Once you mastered the knack of drawing bamboo, you will be able to enliven whatever you painted. You can paint the exquisite dew on the bamboo leaves and turn it into a lovely song that can be sang in low voice.

We can use our mind to comprehend pine tree and bamboo tree.

I travel a lot to seek the surrounding truth.

This is the reason why I rove over the world.

It is said sakura season is the best time in Japan.

In April, People go to cities such as Osaka, Matsuyama....... to admire the beauty of sakura. The crowd kept coming as if it there was no end to it.

When the sakura flowers blossom, we can found them all over the hills. The flowers are as white as the snow. Give the tree a little shake, you will see snow flakes flying. Of course, they can be of different colors such as pink and red. The arrival of sakura season seems to have awaken all the Japanese from their Winter dreams.

Once, I saw a sakura festival being staged at the *** Onzen in Shigoku prefecture.

The performers dressed in traditional kimono. The men also wore clogs, and the women made up heavily. They were from all age-groups. A very young girl putting on kimono was just like a lovely doll.

A float decorated with sakura flowers led the whole procession. 

Young girls sat on the vehicle and played all kinds of musical instruments.

This was followed by two rows of boys and girls. They danced as the vehicles moved forward.

Following the rhythm of the drums and music, all of the performers danced in unison. Even the onlookers and tourists joined in the fun, they danced and sang loudly. All of them seemed to have a great time.

Their faces were full of sakura joy.

In Matsuyama, I paid special attention to the sakura flowers. Putting the sakura flowers close to my eyes, I smelled its fragrance, trying to find out the subtle difference between sakura flowers in Japan and China. 

Japanese have another habit - -

They like to admire the sakura flowers and sit under the sakura tress and enjoy drinking.

They are from all walks of life, - students, company employees, young men, villagers, and neighbours.

They even light up the place at night for such occasion. The atmosphere is very poetic.

Forming into a circle, they bend their kneel and sit down. Bottles of Japanese wine or beer are then passing around while they enjoy the drink together.

When they are tipsy, they start to chat loudly. This is the most bold and generous moment of Japanese. Amid the air that is full of alcohol, they loosen themselves chatting and singing wholeheartedly.

Their warmth can easily affect the passer-bys.

I really did not understand what they said, but I guessed they were talking about their life-long ambitions.

Their songs might not be melodious, but they were warm and happy.

Finally, they succumb to the excitement and alcohol, they lied down where they liked.

Downward, upward, some even had to be carried down the hill.

At that moment, a thought came to my mind:

The scene is so beautiful, why don`t I get drunk as well? Better still if I can get drunk under a sakura tree. I believe it will be a beautiful sight ! This stage of oblivion and telepathy is beyond words. 

The thought rankled in my mind.

Suddenly I recalled my childhood buddies ,

my primary school classmates,

my young companions,

my friends who were interested in writing.

I always think of my good friends, although many of them have since passed away ! Some of them may have the same feeling as me in certain corner of the world, are they not sharing my infatuation? Hopefully, we can experience certain kind of telepathy for a while.

I think of:

the rarity of living in this world,

the rarity of getting together,

the rarity of have good karmic relations.

I brood a lot drinking under the sakura trees.

 

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