Chrysanthemums from the Land of Yamato


Of course, each country is unique and original in its own way. Yes, there are some countries we know almost nothing about. And, quite the contrary, lots of books and articles were written about the Land of the Rising Sun. But this doesn’t help a bit. Every time you got to discover this country anew. Sometimes it turns out that the phenomenon you’re so excited about is known in some neighbor culture, in China or in Korea. Sometimes it turns out that there is no such thing in the whole world. Such is the case of Utakaihajime, the poetic contest.

Every year this literary tournament is held in the Imperial Palace, and anyone can become a participant. During that contest verses written by simple commoners and by the Emperor himself are read. It is believed that during such readings the Emperor and his people exchange with their thoughts and their souls are united.

That is why waka poetry plays such an important role in the life of Japanese people. Waka is a way to self-perfection, way to experience the world. The tradition of composing waka came to us from the time when the Japanese Empire was born.

In our country the poetic heritage of rulers of the Land of the Rising Sun was translated by Georgiy Sviridov (the son of the famous Russian composer). And I feel it would be most appropriate to combine within single exposition those verses bringing to us some images, moods and flavor of one or another period in the history of the Land of Yamato (that’s how Japan was called in the past) and photos of today’s Japan.

Japan can be different. But most of all I enjoy that cultural synthesis, co-existence of the most advanced progress of the civilization and careful treatment of the Tradition. In the world of all those supermarkets, superfast expresses and most advanced technologies, looking at skyscrapers reaching the sky, hearing roar of the underground trains, sailing through the heavy sea of the civilization, you can always find a small quiet and stable island, the place where the History lives. And all of a sudden you will be taken to another reality, and all those vain thoughts and feelings will be blown away like fumes of burning incense in a temple when a slight movement disturbs the air. And you will see that nothing could be more important than falcon flight over Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, or splendid lily floating over mysterious depth of a lake…

And then you’ll return to your everyday life. But the Beauty you’ve touched once will remain deep in your heart forever like a tune played by a magic flute or like a waka poetry. And you’ll want to give something beautiful to your friend or to the whole world, something like a flower gliding on the mirror-like surface of a lake or just chrysanthemums…  chrysanthemums from the Land of Yamato.

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