NHK television in Japan featured on its evening news program last Saturday (March 30) a 10-minute segment about my research on Eliza Scidmore. It included scenes at a popular spot in Tokyo for viewing sakura (cherry blossoms).
Among the viewers who responded was Akira Yamamoto. His chief hobby is photography, and he thought I might like having a photo he took that captured the meaning of sakura in Japan — the spirit of goodwill associated with cherry-blossom viewing.
He and his wife, Yoshiko, invited me for coffee. When I met them today 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.”