Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sakura

It's the first anniversary of the 東日本大震災 Great East Japan Earthquake. (Photo from 朝日新聞.) The scale of the disaster (string of disasters, more like) is such that it seems in some ways not yet to have ended. Where recovery is possible much has been done to rebuild building and communities, but much remains, especially in rebuilding public confidence. Some things will never return to how they were... or will they? This is an area which has suffered devastating earthquakes and tsunamis for a long time; "how things were" included some tragic sense of the persistent reality of such calamity, if not on this scale.
 
This drawing (which accompanied an article in the Japan Times about teenagers' chastened but hopeful views one year on) reminds me of picture books friends of mine encouraged me to look at while in Tokyo last August, which showed the famous cherry trees of many of the devastated towns - those that still stood - in full glorious bloom, surrounded by piles or tangles of debris - or, in a few case, surrounded by nothing, all having been swept away. I didn't know how to read these images (especially reiterated dozens of times over) and still don't. Does the cherry tree show the resilience of nature (and humanity as part of nature), or the hollowness and inhumanity of nature's fecundity? In complicated ways I can't pretend to understand the sakura connotes beauty and also death, and, perhaps, rebirth too.

I pray for the lost and those left behind.

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