Romancing Taiwan

Falling Dizzy For Pink:

In every February, the Cherry Blossom Festival has become one of the most important cherry blossom viewing activities in Taiwan.   February is when cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the more than3000  重瓣山櫻花 (Multiple Petals Flowering Cherry) in the Village dance with wind.

In every February, the Cherry Blossom Festival has become one of the most important cherry blossom viewing activities in Taiwan. February is when cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the more than3000 重瓣山櫻花 (Multiple Petals Flowering Cherry, or Kwanzan Flowering Cherry) in the Village dance with wind.

Spring hasn’t arrived yet, but we have all fallen under the inspiration of Valentine’s Day this past February 14th.

Cherry blossoms are Universally reacognized as a metaphor of peace or romance – as we can see the symbolisim in a number movies and animes.  Crowds among crowds gather in numbers as they hike up the mountain trails to enjoy the beautiful pink-and-white scenery, filled with the cherry blossom petals.

More Than Just A Flower: From the Chinese culture, the blossom symbolizes feminine beauty, the feminine principle, or love in the language of herbs; while in Japan, the people believe them to exemplify the transient nature of life due to their short blooming period.

In general Asia, cherry blossoms are held so much to the heart that it has even been used within Buddhist influence, embodied in the concept of mono no aware.

The association of the term dates back to the early 18th century scholar, Motoori Norinaga.  The transition in life of the short-lived blossoms are much associated with morality, and for such reason, Sakura have become richly symbolic and utilized in Japanese art, manga, anime, film and performances.

(Photo, courtesy of taiwannews)  Blooming sakuras in Caesar Park Hotel of Taipei.  Photo is dated to February, 2009.

(Photo, courtesy of taiwannews) Blooming sakuras in Caesar Park Hotel of Taipei. Photo is dated to February, 2009.

What is sakura: It is an omen of good fortune and an emblem of love, affection, and represents the coming of spring.

Sakura with cherry blossoms: It is an enduring metaphor on the nature of life and its various fluid transitions.

Sakura in history: During World War II, it was used in terms of motivation and manipulation to embed nationalism and militarism among the Japanese people.  Branches of trees were event taken with the fighters on their missions, and cherry blossoms painted on the side of bombers in symbolism of the intensity and ephemerality of life.  The association was altered such the fall of cherry petals came to represent the sacrafice of your in suicide mission, in honour of the emperor.  The government promoted the idea, among the populace, that the souls of the deceased warriors were reincarnated into the annual blossoms.

In colonial enterprises, the Imperial Japan planted cherry trees as significance of claiming territory, in the name of Japan.

(Photo, courtesy of dcpages)  Cherry blossom petals, flying with the wind in Wahington D.C.

(Photo, courtesy of dcpages) Cherry blossom petals, flying with the wind in Wahington D.C.

Cherry Blossom Petals:Five Centimeters Per Second,” is the stated speed at which the petals fall.  This act is the metaphor or reminiscent of the slowness of life and how many often start together, only to gradually drift apart into separate ways and lives.  This theme is used in a Japanese animated film titled, “5 Centimeters Per Second,” a chain of stories about their distance, by writer and director, Makoto Shinkai in 2007.

A Pink Taiwan:

(Photo, courtesy of TAIPEI TIMES, by George Tsorng)  Visitors flock to Yangmingshan National Park Sunday, February 16, the first day of this years flower season, to see the cherry blossoms and get a breath of fresh air.

(Photo, courtesy of TAIPEI TIMES, by George Tsorng) Visitors flock to Yangmingshan National Park Sunday, February 16, the first day of this year's flower season, to see the cherry blossoms and get a breath of fresh air.

Taipei’s Yang-Ming-Shan National Park is to hold the Annual Flower Festival, officially beginning on Friday, February 20 (up to March 22).  Due to the confusing recent changes in weather, there have been a reported average of 20% to 30% blooming activity around the country, making it the perfect time to attract tourists and visitors.

Out of the approximate 2400 cherry trees in blossom, visitors may enjoy the five to six hundred, already in full bloom, according to Yan Chun-Cheng, Director of Yang-Min-Shan Office of the Taipei City Parks Administration.

One may call the Taipei City government hotline (1999, if calling from Taipei City, or for outside Taipei: 02 – 2720 – 8889) for any inuqiries.

Train:

(Photo, courtesy of taiwannews)  Cherry blossoms and camellias have been seen blossoming in the mountains north of Taipei.  Photo, dated to February, 2009.

(Photo, courtesy of taiwannews) Cherry blossoms and camellias have been seen blossoming in the mountains north of Taipei. Photo, dated to February, 2009.

The infamous, must-visit destination site, Alishan – is offering extra train services, destinated to its forest recreation area, during the upcoming cherry blossom season.

The scenic mountain (of Chiayi County) is one of the most visited and recommended tourist attracts in Taiwan with many art depicting sunrises from its mountains to the serene landscape and ancient trees.  The 86 kilometer railway runs up the mountain, which is only a mere one-third of the alpine railways remaining in existence in the world.  Taiwan is in gratitude for the many benefits of Japanese Colonization.

The most famous of the cherry blossoms are the white-blossomed Yoshino cherry from Japan.  The first Yoshino cherry trees grown in the area, is dated back to the early 19th century (1903), during the Japanese Colonial Period.

Planting them, however, did not rise in numbers until ten-some years later, in 1918, thanks to the Japanese importing some 900 Yoshino cherry saplings at where is now, the Chaoping train station.  Three years later, all the trees bloomed simultaneously, marking the first Alishan’s cherry blossom season in 1921.

Since the first season, varieties of cherry trees have since continued its import, and reintroduced to the terrain.  Today, the numbers have increased from 900 to over 6,000 Yoshino cherry trees.

Enjoying The View:

(Photo, couresy of sunmoonlake.gov.tw)  The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village first opened on July 27, 1986. It earned itself a reputation for its popular theme area which introduces Taiwanese Aboriginal culture and for its lush forest and beautiful European Garden.

(Photo, couresy of sunmoonlake.gov.tw) The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village first opened on July 27, 1986. It earned itself a reputation for its popular theme area which introduces Taiwanese Aboriginal culture and for its lush forest and beautiful European Garden.

What makes enjoying the blooming season the best, is viewing them at night when the Village uses the “light carvingtechnique.  It is an anfractuous path, created by lights ranging in various brightness and colours, romanticizing the beautiful in-bloom petals – with the background music, luring in the people into the outdoor cafes and restaurants by the couples and families.

Festival:

The enjoyed light carving in the evening festivities of the Aboriginal Cherry Blossom Festival.

The enjoyed "light carving" in the evening festivities of the Aboriginal Cherry Blossom Festival.

It was so brought forth since its start in February 2001.  The festival consists of events, centered around mountains by the hundreds, filled with cherry trees, lining the world famous Sun Moon Lake and the 2000-some cherry trees in the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.

Each year, this festival reignites tourism in Taiwan, during one of its slow seasons of the year, to enjoy and educate in Taiwan’s agriculture, history, beauty and ethnicity.

It is the largest, recognized festival in Central Taiwan, increasing the scale of tourism by the year.

Activities have lured around 50,000 people in all, including those of such professions as culture artists, poets, dancers, musicians, painters, culturists, and anthropologists – just to name a few.

Part of the festival, is the much raved program referred simply as the “Evening Cherry Blossom Activity” in which a single lamplight is placed on each tree, creating the romantic and poetic ambience to the colourful veranda.  This, in itself, is the hilight to Taiwan’s cultural activities.

In 2008:

(Photo, courtesy of TECO)  Macon, Georia welcomes Taiwan in 2008.

(Photo, courtesy of TECO in Atlanta) Macon, Georia welcomes Taiwan in 2008.

On March 28, TECO in Atlanta received an invitation from the Kaohsiung City Government, led by Vice Mayor Lin Ren-Yih to attend Macon, Georgia’s [26th] Annual, International Cherry Blossom Festival.

Kaohsiung and Macon have been sister-cities for 32 years (as of 2009), hence the little China-Town of Atlanta, Georgia.  The Vice Mayor addressed the festival visitors and VIP’s (at the Kaleidoscope of Cultures cultural performance vent) to attend the World Games and other festivities Taiwan has to offer.


In 2007:

(Photo, courtesy of taiwan.net.tw)  Wulai is a famous mountain village in northern Taiwan and is located in water reservation area.  Residents are most aboriginal people (Tai Ya Tribe).

(Photo, courtesy of taiwan.net.tw) Wulai is a famous mountain village in northern Taiwan and is located in water reservation area. Residents are mostly aboriginal people (Tai Ya Tribe).

The Cherry Blossom Festival was held at the beautiful Sun Moon Lake (located in Wulai), one of the most raved romantic destinations for Taiwanese and all tourists alike.  The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village of the area celebrated the season with two major festival activities, running in accordance from February 1 to April 1.  The festival began with “Evening Cherry,” lasting from February 1 to 29 during the day and evenings.

The culture village as well hosted a “Flowers and Greenery” activity running for the rest of the duration period of February 18 to April 1 with featured sculptured horticultural creations and other floral delights, featuring the village’s European Garden area and the Forest Orchid Trail with it alluring fragrances.

>>> Park, garden and trail information may be acquired through here.  <<

Cherry Isn’t Poetry, Life Is:

(Photo, courtesy of Japan Times)  Twos company: Genji and his lover the Lady of the Misty Moon in the comic Asakiyumemishi by Waki Yamato.  © WAKI YAMATO / KODANSHA

(Photo, courtesy of Japan Times) Two's company: Genji and his lover the Lady of the Misty Moon in the comic "Asakiyumemishi" (あさきゆめみし, or The Tale of Genji) by Waki Yamato. © WAKI YAMATO / KODANSHA

Mentioned previously, is the use of cherry blossoms in [Japanese] Buddhist literature; most of which are referred to in poems.

Iroha nioedo, chirinuruwo

Though I smell the colorful blossoms, they are doomed to scatter

Wagayo tarezo tsunenaran

Who in this world exists forever?

Ui no okuyama kyō koete

Today I cross over the deep mountains of existence

Asaki yume miji, eimo sezu

I shall no longer dream shallow dreams, no longer be drunk.

The cited poem [above] begins with establishing the sense of impermanence as the current global state – and ends with a luring promise of enlightenment and trescendence of cycle of willful existence (ui, is the only Buddhist technical term, used in this poem).

In Meaning: Colourful blossoms are cherry blossoms, the most important metaphor used within Heian-era literature.

Cherry bursts into bloom during the Spring, but they hae become fragile: their peak of beauty lasts a mere two to three days and at any time, are susceptible to being carried-off by the wind.  The symbolism of being rushed off by the wind, is to the fragility of one’s human life – capable of meeting its end at any moment and day.

Under all circumstances, the flowers still fall past their bloom: the best of moments in life occur in brief, scattered moments.

The blossoms are the feelings of peace and enlightenment, of which has become the ideal expression of mono no aware in literature.

Buddhistic cherry blossom as the main focus: in a poem, titled, Kokin wakashū:

Utsusemi no yo nimo nitaru ka

Indeed how they resemble this fleeting world of ours!

Hanasakura

The cherry blossoms.

Sakuto mishimani katsu chirinikeri

No sooner do we gaze at them in bloom then they have scattered

Utsusemi is defined as both the human world and the emptiness of the cicada shell, reinforcing the Buddhist thought of the world as a mere transiet place, of no permanent substance (other than life, or spirit of all things in nature), like the cherry blossoms.

Underneath its given and adored appearance, is translated as the pleasantness of life or the anxiety over its impermanence.

An example of the metaphor, Prince Genji (<< a highly recommended read, it is considered to be The Asia’s Odyssey) came to a regret of a life empty by the pursuit of pleasures, in a society of superficialness where the result of age is of bad omen.  Throughout the Heian era, the anxiety grew.


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~ by Lan on 2008 TueUTC2009-02-17T16:18:55+00:00. 15.

4 Responses to “Romancing Taiwan”

  1. Great blog and hope to have some time soon to come back and read more!

  2. […] the jew york times placed an interesting blog post on Romancing TaiwanHere’s a brief overview…blooming activity around the Bcountry/B, making … bloom petals – with the background Bmusic/B, luring … of such professions as culture Bartists/B, […]

  3. […] Romancing Taiwan […]

  4. Thank you for your comments – I always look forward to people’s response and various opinions. It inspires me to write.

    Thanks again and keep posting! 😀

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