|Toward the end of the cemetery there stood a ginkgo tree, so large that it almost hid the sky. Sensei looked up at the tree and said, “In a little while it will be beautiful here. The tree will be a mass of yellow, and the ground will be buried beneath a golden carpet of fallen leaves.”|
|From “Kokoro” by Natsume Soseki (1867-1916),
translated by Edwin McClellan (Charles E. Tuttle)
In the last few weeks, I have been watching the old ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba),bem trees in the grounds of a temple near where I live turning a rich golden color. The trees that guard the temple from the northeast always keep their leaves longer than the ones in warmer positions. But a spell of wind and rain suddenly brought down the remaining leaves, which looked beautiful as they fluttered in golden showers across the dark, tiled roofs. No wonder these unique, fan-shaped leaves have figured in Japanese art for centuries. This year, the female trees in Tokyo have produced a lot of fruits, perhaps due to the very hot summer. If you have been walking under ginkgo trees in the last few weeks, you will have noticed the rather unpleasant smell from these fleshy, amber-colored fruits. However, they have the attractive name of ginnan (silver apricot), and the waxy seed kernels are often added to savory egg custards and other puddings in autumn.
Japan Times Thursday, Dec. 12, 2002