Cherry Blossoms in Unexpected Places: Poem Number 66

Photo by Oleg Magni on

Now that Spring is finally here, and cherry blossoms are blooming in Japan, I thought this poem was especially fitting:

もろともにMorotomo niLet us think of each
哀れと思へAware to omoeother fondly,
山桜Yama-zakuraO mountain cherries!
花より外にHana yori hoka niFor, outside of your blossoms,
知る人もなしShiru hito mo nashithere’s no one who knows my feelings.
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

The poem was composed by Major Archbishop Gyōson (1055-1135), who according to Mostow, was a famed yamabushi or mountain ascetic, and a very prolific author in his day.

As Mostow explains, the poem itself is fairly straightforward, but the poem’s headnote has confused many scholars over time, stating that it was composed “when he saw cherry blossoms unexpectedly at Ōmine.” Was it the time of year, or the location that made it so unexpected? No one really knows for sure.

But, the joy of seeing cherry blossoms at this time of year is hard to deny. 🙂

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