A fleeting flower viewing in Kyoto

Torin-in Temple in Kyoto City is not open to the public as a rule, but the priests make an exception for several days in June when the sal trees are in bloom. One of Japan's most famous pieces of literature, "The Tale of the Heike", opens with mention of the flowers to symbolize fragility and the transience of life, because each flower that blooms on the tree lasts only for that day. Unusually, the sal tree doesn't shed its petals over time but drops the whole cluster in one go. Torin-in's chief priest says he wants people to look at the beautiful and ephemeral flowers and be grateful they are alive at this moment. The garden's ten trees bloomed this year about a week earlier than usual.

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