Cherry blossoms are blooming.
The trees in parks and along the streets are turning pink.
But a big crowd of people throng to a particular old cherry tree
In the garden of the Yasukuni Shrine.
Encircled by a fence and surrounded by white pebbles,
This gnarled tree is the bellwether
Of the blossoms’ blooming over the entire city.
The people patiently wait and watch.
A couple of officials from the Met. Agency come to inspect
The tree every morning when the day nears to the tree’s possible blooming.
They examine the buds on a particular twig out of hundreds on the tree.
When they could confirm several of the buds in bloom,
One official solemnly announces, “I hereby declare the cherry blossoms are open.”
The people applaud and raise their cell phones to take photos.
Some of the hundreds of other cherry trees in the garden have already turned pink.
So have others in other gardens and parks and those lining the streets.
The flowers already bloomed sway in the spring wind as if to laugh at the childish ceremony.
The Yasukuni Shrine was founded more than 130 years ago
To enshrine the souls of men and women who dedicated their lives
To defend the country against conflicts and wars.
They number millions
During WW2, young people were sent to battles to kill or to be killed
“To die for the country is a great honor,” they were told.
“Souls to be enshrined at the Yasukuni Shrine is the highest
“Of the highest honor,” they were trained to believe.
What kind of people in their right mind
Could demand other people to die so that they may live
Without their conscience unbearably bothered?
Those sent to wars to die were youths of pure heart.
It was so easy to make them believe the illusion of the “highest honor”
As the truth that they were chosen to be bestowed.
Who were behind this tragic drama of lies?
People with the evil spirit. How else can they be identified?
For what did they arrange the evil drama?
For their meaningless but bottomless greed for wealth and power.
What else could it be?
Those youths sent to the war were of purest heart and obedience.
The official recognition of a few buds on the particular cherry tree has to be
To say to the souls of the youths enshrined at the shrine, “Look! It’s spring again.
“Rest in peace for we promise never to repeat the senseless tragedy.”
The people who applauded the official blooming of the blossoms
Are just as pure hearted as those who died in the war.
They work hard like ants carrying provisions in a long queue for winter days.
A war is like a bucket of boiling water poured on those ants.
I know because I had seen at least a small part of it.
(March 22, 2016 AshiAkira)