The Setagaya gardens are a little further out of town. Rather close to where my friend, the wise archer Rami lives with his cat. The journey takes time, yet every spring, a friend and I prepare for it at length and in detail. Sometimes the preparations begin in the still of winter, for every visit there needs to be calculated. Should one arrive too early, the garden would be snowed in and the temples would be out of bounds. Should one, however, arrive a moment too late, the cherry blossoms would be wilted, and the garden would have to rely only on its green foliage to make itself look impressive.
We counted the days this particular year; we packed for the journey. Halfway there we stopped at an inn for a brew and a stew. At last, we headed again to the garden, to capture the blossoms for once. Halfway through the second half we were struck with a thought… we’d forgotten one of our jute sacks of gifts at the inn, so we had to go back. The innkeeper looked at us. “No blossoms then?” We shook our heads, grabbed the forgotten sack, and ran back on the road to the sacred garden. Halfway through the last half, that is, halfway between where we remembered we forgot the sack and the garden itself, we felt weary, and we bought a little wine as pick-me-up for the road, and some figs and dates. The more we walked, the further away it seemed, yet the more strength did the wine seem to give us for the journey ahead.
The sun now is setting. We finally step over the gates lined with stones and with deities. The blossoms have fallen, like snow in the pond. We finish the last drops of wine and prepare the pilgrimage gifts. But first, we take a look at our reflection in the pure water surface, scattered with petals of white. White, like the hair on our head is now white, and falling like snow to our shoulders.