#1272. Sakura Dreams

By Nancee Rostad | Art & Creativity

Mar 19

At the end of a winter trip to Japan, I found myself looking at cherry trees in full peak bloom.


Mind you, this was on February 22, 2023 – February! Which is at least several weeks before the blooms open in other parts of Japan. Luckily, I was in Kawazu, in Shizuoka Prefecture, which sees the first blooms of the spring every year due to its location.


In Japan the sakura (ornamental cherry trees & blossoms) are believed to symbolize mortality because of the blooming and fading cycles. Sakura are also a symbol of renewal because they mark the end of the cold winter and the beginning of spring. Farmers used, and may still use, the blooms to indicate when to plant. And even the Buddhist notion of mono no aware, which loosely means “awareness of the impermanence of things heightens the awareness of their beauty”, is directed at the sakura to remind us of how short and precious life is.


On that February day, I had arrived with literally thousands of Japanese families who were celebrating the sakura which bordered the Kawazu River for over 2 km. A beautiful sight, indeed. I had been traveling around Japan with several other photographers who were eager to capture the scene. As they rushed off to shoot I limped slowly behind them due to a knee injury caused by a trip & fall incident in Tokyo 10 days earlier. Because of my injury, I knew that my shooting method would not include trotting along the river, so I selected a suitable tree and then perched on a nearby bench to observe and plot my course of action. Since I absolutely did not want to produce an iconic photograph of the sakura, my options appeared to be quite limited.


After watching the endless crowds streaming by, I finally decided to approach “my tree” to begin the creative process, hoping for serendipity all the while. The day was very chilly and quite blustery, so in a move of desperation I smooshed (technical term there!) my cellphone camera directly into a handy cluster of blossoms – a very brusque and undisciplined macro approach! Between, and sometimes during wind gusts, I pressed the shutter over and over again, occasionally nudging the cellphone into a slightly different position. I wasn’t focusing the camera or paying any attention to composition or other technical aspects of photography;


I was just hoping to capture something interesting and different. In the resulting images I could see that the changing light had intensified or diminished the color of the blossoms, capturing them from pale pink to saturated shades. And what I ended up with, as you can plainly see, are quite abstract in nature; some resemble watercolors or other media. The overall “texture” on some of the images came from the moisture on the blossoms and even from the pollen. It amuses me to think that it’s like seeing the blossoms from a bee’s point of view. They do seem rather dreamy and, yes, frankly out of focus, but that unfocused appearance just intensifies that dreamy, painterly quality, in my humble opinion.


My next sakura adventure will be to capture the spent petals as they fall from the trees, blowing in the wind like a beautiful pink blizzard. The Japanese have a word for this, of course…..hanafubuki.

I’m so taken with this word that I wrote a little haiku:

Wind tossed petals are falling
Farewell, sakura


iPhone 13 Pro

Post: Lights & Darks sliders and crop tool on Lightroom. Colors were not saturated.


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  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Hi Nancee,

    What an amazing time to be visiting Japan. During a sakura blizzard. A pity you were hampered by a physical injury from getting the full benefit of your trip.

    You have nevertheless presented a wonderful pastel montage to celebrate hanafubuki .

    All the best in recovery

    Gammy knee
    Spanner in the works
    Pink butterflies flutter

    • pascaljappy says:

      Exotic pictures
      All travelers inspired
      Haiku duels insue.

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thanks, Ian! I appreciate your attempt at haiku – always a difficult exercise, if you follow the “rules”. If we’re going for a haiku ending to every post, then it must be in this format: first line – 5 syllables, second line – 7 syllables, third line – 5 syllables. ;- )

      • Ian Varkevisser says:

        Thank You for Advice
        Under consideration
        Bah format smormat

      • Ian Varkevisser says:

        If you insist on sticking to rules I resubmit

        Gammy knee hampers
        Puts a spanner in the works
        Pink flowers flutter

  • Sean says:

    Hi Nancee,
    Your images are the most beautiful and touching abstracts if have had the pleasure of viewing for some time. I find them peaceful, comforting, and cathartic. I like the bit where you wrote, and I quote “… believed to symbolise mortality because of the blooming and fading cycles …”. In a way, I also see them as butterflies, which, in the eyes of some, also represent ‘mortality and change’. I touch on this because I have had the honour of experiencing this ‘mortality and change’ journey, when butterflies used to come to a window, looking just like your ‘sakura’ images. They gracefully hung in the air like the petals in your images, close to my wife’s shoulders and head. Your images have helped translate the visceral and emotive aspects of helping a loved life-partner through their ultimate passing, just before Christmas 2022. I say this because as soon as I saw your images, I saw and experienced connections, and so, they made sense to me. I thank you for this post, as it has helped me in ways I have never imagined. Lastly, I hope other readers appreciate that photography works powerfully and profoundly on many levels. It did for me, in this instance. It will for you, in other ways.
    Kind regards. Sean

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for your kind and insightful comments, Sean. I don’t think that I’ve ever had such lovely things said about my images. You painted such a picture with your words as you described the butterflies visiting your dear lady wife that I could clearly see how magical it must have been. I’m so very sorry for your loss, and grateful that my images and words could help you in any small way. Your connection to my Sakura images is so strong and your comments so meaningful to me that, if you’d like, I’d love to send you the digital files of 2-3 of the images. Please choose your favorites and send me your email address and I’ll make it happen. That way you can have them printed locally, if you like. You’ve touched my heart, Sean. Thanks again.

  • Philiberphoto says:

    Ah, Nancee!!! Just as it is possible to clap with one hand, you give us images without photography (meaning subject, intent, composition, etc…). At a loss for appropriate words to deliver the praise you deserve.

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Ah, Philipe! You’ve nailed my images exactly! They are mere experiments which turned out despite my lack of photography!

  • PaulB says:


    These are beautiful abstractions. You have captured the essence of the subject and location, without showing the physical reality of the location.

    Reality is over rated.


    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for your kind comments, Paul!
      Reality is overrated, and so is sharpness, in my opinion. ;- )

  • Jaap Veldman says:

    Hi Nancy,

    My first thought watching your pictures was:
    ‘Sharpness is so overrated’
    Lovely atmosphere.
    Almost wished you more injuries but no, loved your previous posts too!

  • Jaap Veldman says:

    Smiley missing at the last sentence! Must be something with my telephone.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    LOL – always a pleasure to see what you’ve been up to, Nancee. There’s a lot of chatter about being “original” amongst the boys on DS, but yours are always refreshingly different.
    Sorry to hear about your accident. Hope it is all healing, and not incapacitating you on your trip.

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