Hamaro Cantu once said, “the significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short.”
The World Cup Rugby 2019 is right around the corner kicking into gear in September in Japan. With rugby being such a prominent sport in South Africa, it is no wonder World Cup fever is fast approaching. Japan is a country with rich cultural roots, known worldwide for its traditional arts, including tea ceremonies, calligraphy and flower arranging. The country has a legacy of distinctive gardens, sculpture and poetry, and of course, its cherry blossom trees.
The cherry blossom is Japan’s national flower, more traditionally known as the Sakura. Enjoying the cherry blossom season is a commonality in Japan with many Japanese people celebrating the flower in spring cherry-blossom season. Picking cherry blossoms is a Japanese tradition. Hanami a traditional act in Japan is the viewing of cherry blossom flowers. The Japanese also enjoy having picnics under the cherry blossom trees in the evening as the flowers are lit up with Japanese lanterns late at night. This tradition is known as Yozakura.
The cherry blossom as a flower has many different symbolic representations. The cherry blossom is a symbol for spring – a time of renewal and the fleeting nature of life and morality. Spring in Japan is known to provide its people with a license to hope and a dream of greater things and a reminder to look ahead with enthusiasm and optimism. The cherry blossom is also an omen of good fortune and an emblem of love and affection.
The cherry blossom is also a symbol of humanity. The blooming season of the cherry blossom is brief but results in instant, incredible beauty and then dies off just as quickly. We often get caught up in day to day routine and forget to take a moment to appreciate the smaller things – the small moments that in the bigger picture aren’t so little. Life is full of cherry blossoms that bloom at their finest and wither away after a short life span. We need to take time to appreciate the moments, see the beauty that exists around us and understand with tribulation comes triumph and some of the best beauty grows from the harshest environments. A quote from Mulan reads, “flowers that bloom in adversity are most rare and the most beautiful of them all.”
We need to remember to celebrate life’s beauty, remembering our roots and sharing our gifts with others. Most importantly, we need to live life in full bloom.
Rugby as a sport teaches some important life lessons, all of which we can learn from. Some of the most predominant lessons learnt through the sport include playing through pain – rugby is a contact sport and players often need to play through the pain and need to get back up after being pushed down and to start pushing forward all over again. Playing in a team teaches an important lesson of respect which is a prominent value demonstrated on most rugby fields with respect being shown to fellow team mates, the referees and other teams. Whilst it may be the tries and big hits that make the headlines, anyone who has been around rugby for a while will know that these are mere window dressings. It is the disruptions at the ruck or the covering drift defense that win you games.
Rugby helps you appreciate the little things in life that little bit more. Passion and commitment are at the core of the game – anyone doing anything in life, much like in rugby will never reach their full capability unless they dive in with their heart and soul. Commitment is the name of the game and passion the driving force. Be bold, live loud and don’t ever stop trying!
Although the World Cup 2019 is unfortunately not in cherry blossom season, be reminded of the route of these beautiful, fragile flowers and enjoy the gift that is sport, teamwork and passion and all that is rugby.
Let’s go Springboks!