A long lost Japanese fable about a girl named Sakura and a tree called Yohiro (hope), tells the story of a true love that never ends.
The legend of Sakura begins hundreds of years ago in ancient Japan. It was a time where Feudal lords fought horrible wars, filling the country with sadness and desolation. Moments of peace were very few and didn’t last long before another dispute would begin.
In spite of a war-torn land, there was a forest - a unique wonder of nature with moss-covered rocks and rich wildlife - no soldiers ever wanted to harm it. Hiding deep inside this forest was a tree, a one so lifeless that it could not bloom and take part in the colors and smells of the lush spring season. Looking as if it were dying, animals were afraid to come close. Not even the grass would grow around it. It was condemned and loneliness was his only companion.
One night, a fairy appeared before him. Feeling sorry, she offered to cast a spell that would turn him into a human for 20 years. She thought that feeling the heart’s emotions would give him the life and excitement he needed to thrive as a tree. For 20 years the tree would be able to turn into a human and back into a tree whenever he wanted.
Years passed with much disappointment. Among humans, he could only find hate and war. So he would turn back into a tree for a while.
One afternoon while walking along a riverside, he saw a beautiful girl. Her name was Sakura and she was very kind to him. He helped her carry water to her house that was close by. They talked about the wars and how they dreamt of a better future for Japan.
When asked what his name was, the tree quickly came up with ‘’Yohiro,’’ which means hope. They became good friends and would meet every day to talk, sing, read poetry, and share wonderful stories. He loved to be by her side, and when she wasn’t, he would count the minutes passing until he saw her again.
Yohiro was in love and not wanting to suppress the truth any longer, he declared his love to Sakura and confessed who he really was: a tormented tree, that was soon going to die.
Time passed until the end of the 20 years came. Yohiro turned back into a tree, never to return as a human. Sakura had remained silent all this time. And feeling human love had left him more tortured than ever before.
Until one day, Sakura came running to his side. She hugged him and told him she loved him too. She wanted to stay by his side forever. Hearing this the fairy returned to grant Sakura a wish, to merge with Yohiro and together becoming one tree.
A miracle - the tree finally bloomed. Since then, the love of Sakura and Yohiro brings to every spring, a spread of lively blossoms that fill the land with sweet perfume and color.
Painting by the late Sakai Hōitsu, 1815