Under the cherry blossoms he was my sensei. He was the reason I left my successful career and my homeland. Below the cherry tree, he taught me how to clear my mind, discover tranquility and inner happiness. For him, I travelled to Japan to accomplish zen and learn how to love myself again. I learnt so much more from my sensei in the shade of cherry blossoms. Master Kanji was aptly named. Kanji means feeling. He impressed on me how to connect with nature using the symbol of cherry blossoms. He said that sakura were short lasting and mono no aware, nothing lasts forever. The underlying message for me was to enjoy life. Enjoy the simplicity of cherry blossoms, feel their zenlike beauty, delight in their exquisite colour.
Our relationship was like the one in the book, “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. He was my teacher and I was the pupil. Master Kenji taught me yoga, how to meditate and how material things were valueless. All under cherry blossoms. My first lesson in yoga was under this very cherry tree. As a patient yet dedicated teacher, he encouraged me to move beyond basic asana positions to advanced yoga of balancing on one hand. My sensei taught me beyond yoga, meditation, diet until we were firm friends. Looking back it was the cherry blossom which cemented our friendship during a glorious cherry blossom viewing. So from a lively family picnic with traditional Japanese food celebrating hanami, our friendship grew and was firmly established after we walked through the twinkling lights of the cherry trees during yozakura.
I feel that it was under the cherry blossoms that I too fell in love with my wife, my sensei’s daughter. She possessed all the natural beauty of the cherry blossoms. Like them she was sweet , had a colourful personality, a delicate feminancy and an inner zen feel. The cherry blossoms for me were a living part of mystery, ancient history, and cultural Japanese significance.
I can absolutely understand how cherry blossoms made me feel whole.