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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

A Japanese Blossom, an electronic edition

by Onoto Watanna [Watanna, Onoto, 1879-1954]

date: 1906
source publisher: Harper & Brothers
collection: Genre Fiction

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IX

ON the 15th of April the children dressed themselves in pink-and-white kimonos, simulating cherry blossoms, and strolled abroad for hanarni (flower picnic). They had been looking forward to this delightful occasion for weeks. The costumes had been prepared by their grandmother some days in advance of the festival. Even Marion had a little, white crêpe kimono embroidered with the pale pink flower, and with the sash or obi of the same shade. She made quite a picture, as with her eyes dancing and shining she came running into the garden to join her | | 82 page image : 82     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM step-sisters. The wings of the dainty sleeves of her dress fluttered back and forth. Her cheeks were the color of the cherry blossom, and the golden crown of her hair, drawn up into the Japanese fashion, glistened in the sun. Plum Blossom wore a crêpe silk gown of deep pink, shading at the ends to white. The sash was white with pale green leaves and stalks embroidered on it. Iris, too, was in pink, and the bow of her obi was tied to imitate a cherry blossom. The three little girls had flowers in their hair--cherry blossoms, of course. They waited now in the garden for their brothers and parents. As the festival was new to Marion, she was the most eager of the girls.

From above their heads a voice rang out:

"Here, you, girls! get your masks and petals ready."

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"Where are you, Billy?" called Marion, looking everywhere about them.

"Here--up in the tree."

He was perched in an old cherry-tree, where with vandal hand he was plucking the blossoms.

"O-o-oo!" exclaimed Plum Blossom. "You ba' boy! No can pig flower. Tha's nod ride!"

"Why, father said we were to fill our sleeves--get all we could," called down Billy.

"Yes, pig from ground," said Plum Blossom; "never mus' pig from tree."

"Billy, you vandal, what are you doing up there?"

Mr. Kurukawa had joined the children in the garden. He, too, was in Japanese dress.

"Why," said Billy, "you said--"

"Now, my boy, come down."

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Very promptly Billy obeyed.

Taking his step-son by the hand, Mr. Kurukawa taught him a lesson known to all Japanese children.

"Never pluck the flowers wantonly, least of all the sacred cherry blossom. When you wish the flower in your house, pluck out one branch, one flower. See, you have filled the front of your kimono, your sleeves, and your obi with the blossoms. Look at them!"

He held up the crushed branches to view. They drooped almost reproachfully at Billy.

"But, father," he began again. "You did tell me--"

"To gather all the cherry-blossom petals you could. See, the ground is thick with them."

"But they are all apart. They have no stalks."

Mr. Kurukawa stooped and filled | | 85 page image : 85     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM his hands full of petals. He held them a moment and then lightly tossed them into the air.

"That is how we want them, boy. We use them like confetti. Now fill all your sleeves, children. Get as many as you can, and then we'll start."

Soon the long sleeves of their dresses were filled with the petals, and hung like little pillows. Mrs. Kurukawa was the last to join the merry party. All the children helped her to fill her sleeves, for she, too, wore the national kimono.

"Here are your masks, children," said the father. With laughing chatter they fastened on the grotesque masks and clambered into the jinrikishas. It was a joyful day.

They passed numbers of picnickers, and exchanged showers of cherry-blossom petals with them.

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They ate a delicious luncheon under a tree fairly weighted down with the heavenly flower. While they were in the midst of their repast, Taro and Billy mounted into the tree and shook it till the lunch was almost hidden under the petals, and the heads of all were crowned in cherry pink.

The petals they slipped into their food purposely, declaring that it added a delicious taste. Then the children played battledore and shuttlecock. Later, there being a pleasant wind, Mr. Kurukawa sent up a kite. Billy was permitted to hold the string. This was great fun, especially when Taro's kite had a race with Billy's, and finally won. By four in the afternoon they were all so refreshingly tired that nobody wanted to go home, and soon "father" was besieged for a story.

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"Make it modern, father," said Billy, "for we like that kind best."

"Well, let's see. What shall it be about?"

"War," shouted Taro.

For a while there was silence, and Mr. Kurukawa looked very grave. He was thinking of Gozo.

"Very well," said he, after a moment's thought. "I will tell you a true story of to-day which has to do with a war."

"Make it very, very long, father," said Plum Blossom.

"And exciting," said Taro.

"With a little girl in it," said Iris.

"No, no, a liddle boy," growled Juji.

"It's about a little woman," said Mr. Kurukawa, "and she was called 'The Widow of Sanyo."

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