Last Saturday (March 30), NHK television in Japan aired a 15-minute evening news special on cherry blossoms in which I was interviewed about my research on Eliza Scidmore. The footage included scenes of me strolling beneath cherry blossoms at Mukojima in Tokyo and visiting Eliza Scidmore’s grave in Yokohama.
Among the viewers who responded was Akira Yamamoto. His chief hobby is photography, and he contacted me to offer a photo he thought I might like. It seemed to capture, he said, the real meaning of sakura (cherry blossoms) and the spirit of fellowship they generate from the shared viewing experience.
He and his wife, Yoshiko, invited me for coffee. When I met them this morning, they presented me with a gift of the black-and-white photo, beautifully mounted in a frame. I look forward to hanging it in my office back home in Washington as a wonderful reminder of my trip to Japan.
The Yamamotos live here in Yokohama. Akira Yamamoto is retired after working as a head engineer at Nissan. Yoshiko, I learned, likes to spend her free time golfing and doing ballroom dancing.
Mr. Yamamoto told me the lovely story behind the picture, which he took at Shinjuku-Gyoen Park in Tokyo:
“While people were picknicking under the trees, it began to rain. All the young people rushed away. But this older women couldn’t run, so two of them took their picnic cloth and made an umbrella so she wouldn’t get wet.”
“I think it shows the meaning of sakura.”