The cherry blossom, also known as sakura, is a symbol of beauty, uniqueness and ephemerality in Japan. Every spring the cherry trees blossom and attract millions of visitors from all over the world. The flowering period of the cherry blossoms lasts only a few weeks and is considered by the Japanese to be Hanami (blossom viewing) celebrated.
During this time, people picnic under the blossoming trees and enjoy the beauty of nature. The cherry blossoms coincide with the start of the school and business year in Japan, so it doesn’t just stand for the meteorological start of spring. Because the cherry blossom has a much deeper meaning for the Japanese, the ephemeral nature of the blossoms reminds the Japanese that life is short and you should cherish every moment.
An approach that can also help us to live more mindfully in our fast-moving world?
The German-Japanese speaker Michael Okada is firmly convinced of this. He regularly gives lectures on mindfulness in professional life and the cherry blossom has a special meaning for him too.
“Of course there is also a very commercial side to the cherry blossom season. And this side has very little to do with mindfulness, the uniqueness of the moment and impermanence. On the contrary, overcrowded parks and gardens, long queues at the most desirable tourist spots rather reflect the superficiality and fast pace of our current world,” he explains.”
But when we give ourselves time to pause, then mindfulness as the ability to be present in the present moment helps us understand the full value of the allure of cherry blossoms,” Okada explains in his mindfulness talk.
“The main thing is beautiful photos with blossoming cherry trees! That was very important to me at first. It was only much later that I understood that the cherry blossom is not just a visual experience, but above all stands for transience and the associated presence in the moment,” explains speaker Michael Okada in his presentation. Because the cherry blossom can only be seen for a short time in the year and its beauty is fleeting.
“If we look at the cherry blossom as a metaphor for the transience of life and then become aware that every moment in life is unique and distinctive, we can begin to appreciate life more and be more aware of our experiences,” he explains in his lecture to mindfulness. “This realization was an eye-opening moment for me,” said the German-Japanese speaker Michael Okada.
“As if a door to another world had opened for me,” Okada explains, adding, “The uniqueness and the transience are closely linked. Everything in life is unique and yet transient. We should cherish every moment and consider it special. Every moment is unique and will never come again. We should really be aware of that because life is short and so we should appreciate every moment.”
In a world that is primarily about “higher, faster, further”, the philosophy of the Japanese cherry blossom forms a real alternative. But it is precisely this counter-proposal that gives us the opportunity to create a feeling of presence and serenity in our lives. By consciously focusing on the present moment and letting go of our fears and worries, we can find more joy and fulfillment in life. Just as the ephemerality of the cherry blossom is meant to remind us that nothing in life is permanent, it is meant to help us appreciate and consciously use the precious time we have.
The cherry blossom reminds us that we should live life to the fullest while we have it. Michael Okada emphasizes in his lecture “ Mindfulness is the uniqueness of the moment‘ precisely these aspects and points out ‘that the cherry blossom reminds us that every moment in life is unique and fleeting, so we should not waste a single moment. Because we only have one life.”
The German-Japanese Michael Okada grew up between two cultures and still lives in the balance between Japan and Germany. He takes advantage of these intercultural opportunities and conveys the best of both cultures in his impressive lectures.
With his company in the IT industry, he uses the structure, diligence and punctuality of the German mentality and couples them with the mindfulness, resilience and presence of Japanese culture. The inspiring keynote speaker conveys this exciting and successful mix in his lectures on the topics of mindfulness, intercultural opportunities and resilience.