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These violets (viola mandshurica) were springing up everywhere I looked beneath the trees in the woods of Maioka Park. At first, as we walked we didn’t notice anything different from our last visit to the Park just a week ago. Then all of a sudden, we saw the violets EVERYWHERE!

Sumire (Violet)



In my begging bowl
Violets and dandelions
Are mixed together:
These will be my offering
To the Buddhas of Three Worlds.


By the Zen priest Ryokan (1757-1831)
translated by Donald Keene
in “Anthology of Japanese Literature” (Grove Press)

In England, Mothering Sunday (or Mother’s Day) falls in March, and traditionally children used to gather a small bunch of wild violets and pale yellow primroses on the way back from church as a gift for their mothers. Fragrant violets were also a favorite gift from a young man to his sweetheart. Since it is a small and unassuming flower, the violet has become a symbol of feminine modesty. There are many species of violets in Japan, their colors ranging from deep purple to white with pink markings. The leaves may be heart-shaped, or resemble elegant, elongated spears. Violets thrive in mossy banks and woodlands, and bloom early in spring, while the sunlight can still penetrate the canopy of trees.

The Japan Times: March 21, 2002

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