We have entered the micro-season of “The First Peach Blossoms” This is the second micro-season of the mini-season of Awakening of Insects. All the micro-seasons within Awakening of Insects are:
- Hibernating Creatures Open Their Doors (Mar 5 -Mar 9)
- The First Peach Blossoms (Mar 10 – Mar 14)
- Leaf insects turn into Butterflies (Mar 15 – Mar 19)
These seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai and are specific to Japan. However, just because the calendar focuses on Japan doesn’t mean it isn’t applicable to others. No matter where you live you can use these seasons as a starting point for your personal exploration of the world around you.
To celebrate this season, we will learn about the history of the peach tree and read seasonal haiku by Basho, Issa, Buson, and Shiki.
The Peach Tree
A Peach Tree (Prunus persica) is a small to medium-sized tree that rarely grows more than 21 feet (6.5 meters) tall. The peach is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae). Other plants within the rose family include cherries, apricots, and almonds. Peaches grow best in the temperate regions of both the northern and southern hemispheres.
In order for a peach tree to flower, and subsequently produce fruit, a peach tree needs to experience a period of chilling. An ideal chilling period is said to be about 500 hours of temperatures between 32 -50 degrees Fahrenheit. This chilling period allows the tree to initiate an internal chemical process that brings about the flowering buds.(1,2)
Although a mild chilling is best, a peach tree can usually survive temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these low temperatures will usually kill off the flower buds and keep the trees from producing fruit the next year.
Peach blossoms are also sensitive to early spring frost. After an early bloom, the flowers can die if temperatures drop below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.(1,2)
Important Points In Peach Tree History
Scientists believe that the ancient Chinese were the first to cultivate the peach tree in 6000 BCE. After that, the peach quickly found its way around the world. Below are a few key points marking the peach’s global expansion.
- Archeologists found fossilized peach pits along the Yangtze River that date back to 6000 BCE.
- The Yangtze River Valley provided the perfect climate and soil conditions for the first peach cultivation.
- The peach was first cultivated in Japan during the Jōmon period (4700–4400 BC).
- The peach was first cultivated in India during the Harappan period (1700 BC).
- The Peach was first cultivated in Greece around 300 BC.
- Some say that Alexander the Great spread the peach to Spain and France after he conquered Persia. Although, there doesn’t seem to be evidence of this.
- The Spanish introduced the peach to South America in the 16th century.
- In the 17th century, George Minifie is said to have planted the first peach tree in North America at his home in Virginia.
- In 1768, Thomas Jefferson planted peach trees at his estate Monticello.
- In 2010, the International Peach Genome Initiative was created to sequence the genomes of the peach tree.
Fun Facts About the Peach
The peach has also played an important role in our cultural history. Below are a few fun facts about how the peach’s cultural relevance.
- The early Chinese believed that peaches contained great vitality and would ward off evil spirits.
- When traveling through their territories, Chinese Emporers would have their soldiers lead the way carrying peach blossoms to clear evil spirits from their path.
- In 2014, Mr. Matsumoto, who runs a farm in the Kanechika district of Japan, received the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Sweetest Peach”.
- There is a Japanese folklore character called Momotarō who was born from a peach.
- In 1961, British Author Roald Dahl wrote his children’s novel James and the Giant Peach.
- In 1984, the peach became the official fruit of South Carolina.
(These “Important points” and “Fun Facts” about the peach were pulled from Brittanica, Wikipedia, and Frog Hollow Farm’s “The History of Peaches”.)
The World Kigo Database tells us that hana 花, when translated into English, can mean flowers and blossoms. However, Dr. Gabi Greve tells us that hana, when used in haiku, only refers to cherry blossoms.(4)
Since other plants also have flowers and blossoms, other words need to be used to differentiate those blossoms from cherry blossoms. For example, peach blossoms are momo no hana. Whereas spring flowers, haru no hana. Autumn wildflowers are kusa no hana, and may also be translated to mean “Flowers of the grass” or “Flowers of the weeds”. Plum blossoms, on the other hand, are called ume.
Cherry blossoms, peach blossoms, and plum blossoms are all spring kigo.
So with all this in mind, let’s read some haiku!
blossom haze - in a corner of the capital is Asukayama (retrieved from World Kigo Database)
I believe that the Asukayama that Shiki is referring to is Asukayama Park a public park in Toyko. This park was created by an eighteenth-century shōgun named Tokugawa Yoshimune who planted many cherry trees near Toyko.(6)
even the heavenly gods crowd' round plum blossoms (translated by David G. Lanoue)
two voices that sound alike make their way... clouds of blossoms (translated by David G. Lanoue)
The night almost past through the white plum blossoms a glimpse of dawn (translated by Robert Hass)
The spring night has come to an end, with dawn on the cherry blossoms (translated by R.H.Blyth)
two lives between them have lived cherry blossoms (translated by Jane Reichhold)
blooming wildly among the peach trees: first cherry blossoms. (translated by David Landis Barnhill)
How many, many things they call to mind, these cherry-blossoms! (translated by R.H.Blyth)
This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that references spring flowers or blossoms.
Share your haiku in the comments below, or post on your own page and link back to this post. I can’t wait to read what you write!
- “Peach”; Wikipedia
- “Peach”; Brittanica
- “The History of Peaches”; Frog Hollow Farm
- “Flower and Hana”; World Kigo Database
- “Plum blossoms (ume)”; World Kigo Database
- “Asukayama Park”; Wikipedia
Shiki’s haiku was retrieved from World Kigo Database. Issa’s haiku were retrieved from the World Kigo Database and David G. Lanoue Haiku Guy. Buson’s haiku retrieved from Haiku of Yosa Buson: Organized by Rōmaji, in alphabetical order; translated into English, French, Spanish, by Terebess Asia Online (TAO). Basho’s haiku was retrieved from Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations.
I love this time of year when the sleeping world begins to awaken. Last night & this morning we’ve had our first real snow but as it’s just past mid-day and the sun shines, it is melting fast. The snowdrops are mostly over, but the crocus, narcissus & cherry are all in bloom. A wonderful post, Mark, for this joyous time of year! 🙋♂️
I added a link to here on my latest post.
Hi Ashley, Nice to hear from you! It is a wonderful time of year isn’t it. We are still deep in snow, but dreaming of crocus. Thanks again for your support. I hope all is well!
I love these posts so much. I hope to start posting regularly soon. 💜
Hi Colleen, Thanks for the comment it is nice to hear your are enjoying these. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the seasons. Take Care!
Thanks, Mark. 💜
At last spring is slowly waking; yet, winter’s snow lingers. Thanks Mark for another great post. Have a great day My Friend.
Hi Goff, I read your first sentence a couple of times because it had a haiku like rhythm. How about. . .
spring slowly wakes
yet, snow lingers
Thanks for the comment and the inspiration!! Have a good Friday and thanks for sharing and linking up.
Cheers Mark. Love the haiku My Friend.
Reblogged this on Art, Music, Photography, Poetry and Quotations.
peach blossoms mix
with parade confetti
~Nancy Brady, 2023
swirl in the breeze
–a toddler giggles
~Nancy Brady, 2022
among the cherry blossoms
~Nancy Brady, 2020
published in Bloooutlier, Premiere issue
Oh my goodness, these are all so wonderful, but that first one is my favorite. What a glorious image, Nan.
Hi Eavonka, Yes!! I agree that these are stunning.
Thanks, Eavonka. that one was new. I’ve written something similar, but Mark’s blog prompted it.
Hi Nan, I agree with Eavonka, this are wonderful! I am drawn toward “she dances”. There is so much emotion conveyed in those lines. Thanks so much for sharing!
Hi Mark, thanks! That haiku “she dances” was published by Alan Summers after being rejected so many times before by other editors. I am grateful to him. That he saw the joyfulness of a woman celebrating a return to health. Thanks for providing such thoughtful blogs and for giving poets a venue for sharing haiku. ~nan
These are beautiful, Nancy.
Thanks, Mary Jo. Appreciate your kind words. ~nan
All beautiful, Nan. I love the first one most.
Thank you, Anita. Greatly appreciate your kindness. ~nan
My absolute pleasure, Nan!🤗
Oh these are lovely! Peach, apple and cherry blossoms (and all in the rose family!)
Hi Mary Jo, Thanks for stopping by. There are quite a few wonderful ku for this season! I hope you are well! Have a good weekend.
I just know beneath all the snow we received overnight, blossoms are dreaming. 🙂
Hi Mark. Here is my offering and response to this week’s prompt – ‘Spring Flowers or Blossom.
Have an awesome day everyone.
Hi Goff, Wonderful addition for this week! There is definitely magic in the spring air! Thanks again for sharing your work. Have a good weekend.
Pleasure My Friend. Thanks for your kind comments. Trusting you have a great weekend too.
Nice one, James Goff (or Goff James). I always switch your name around in my mind. My apologies if I have offended you.
No problem My Friend. Either is okay. I’ve been called many different things in my time. Have a great day. Stay Smiling.
Mark thanks again for an informative post on peaches…
I played here: Micro poetry; first peach blossoms
Hi Jules, thanks so much for adding to the conversation with your wonderful work! You continued support is greatly appreciated!
sprinkle our last walk
I wrote this last month preparing for a haiku contest for a cherry blossom festival, but then, I’d written many, and they only allowed two. I suppose I could have changed it to peach, but I truly couldn’t remember if they are quite fragrant.
When I think of peaches, I think of Georgia and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The later of which were, hands down, the juiciest most magical peaches I’ve ever had.
Hi Eavonka, I read this haiku and get a sense of sadness and recognition of the impermanence of all things, even relationships. Very nicely done! I don’t think I have ever had peaches from British Columbia. Our fresh peaches usually come up from Pennsylvania. Thanks again for sharing your work! Have a wonderful day!
Oh yay, Mark, that’s just what I wanted to convey. Thank you for being such a source of inspiration.
The Vancouver Cherry Festival is looking for cherry blossom haiku. I just got notification that they are accepting submissions now (March 1 through June 1) through an email yesterday. Maybe you already submitted and you are WAY ahead of me. Regardless, a wonderful haiku.
Magical peaches? Sounds like a story in the making.
That is the very contest I was referring to! I’m trying to get ahead of things because I have jury duty soon, and there are so many deadlines this month. Whew.
Glad to hear that. I thought it might have been that, but just in case, thought I would pass it along. Now, I have to submit and become as focused and dedicated as you, Eavonka.
Love all these haikus, Mark. I’m curious about the use of “two” in two poems (“two voices that sound alike” and “two lives”) and wonder about the significance I’m clearly missing?
winter a hard slog
delicate blossoms emerge
hearts bloom in the spring
Nice haiku, Tracy. Maybe the one haiku with the two voices are a set of twins although they are translations. As for the other haiku, I’ll leave that one for Mark to answer. ~nan
Hi Nan, I am not sure if you also get notified of my reply when I posted on Tracy’s comment. But I came up with a theory about the twos. Its a big guess!
Hi Nan, so kind of you to offer an answer to my question. Thank you for taking pity on someone who’s often intimidated by poetry and convinced I’m missing out on the meaning. 🙂
I don’t usually delve that deeply into a haiku’s meaning, but once you asked, you made me think. I could be WAY off. When a haiku is translated, then there is even more doubt infused into what the original intent of the poet was. I was intrigued when you asked a question that hadn’t even occurred to me. Fools rush in where angels dare to tread, and hey, I am no angel which makes me a fool! Thanks, though, for responding AND making me think in the first place.
On the other hand, I have had haiku workshopped and the people add meaning and intent that I never considered and the haiku is mine. As I said to someone recently, “the writer (poet) writes, but once the words (poem) is out there, the reader can interpret differently than what the poet intended.”
Hi Nan and Tracy, I really like the idea that the poet starts the poem and the reader finishes it. Which is basically the same thing that Nan said in the previous comment. Such a good conversation here about the experience of reading poetry!
Hi Tracy and Nan,
Although I am not sure of the significance I wonder if the Issa poem might be a tribute poem to Basho’s work. matsuo-basho-haiku blog, which is blog that I really enjoy, wrote a commentary about Basho’s haiku. The author states that the “two lives” were written about Basho and his friend/disciple Hattori Dohō when they reconnected after 20 years. I wonder, if then Issa might have been reflecting on that haiku and wrote his haiku. Could the two “voices” could be Basho and Doho?
This is a total guess from me as I couldn’t find anything to back this up. It could also just be a coincidence!
Here is a link to the blog post: https://matsuobashohaiku.home.blog/2020/05/03/our-two-lives-inochi-ni/
Mark, belated thank you for your efforts to answer my question. Much appreciated! I was sure I was missing something from the post and so willingly outed myself as clueless. I love the idea of Basho and his friend/disciple reconnecting and speaking in two voices.
Hi Mark and Tracy,
Your interpretation sounds plausible and certainly more plausible than mine. I’ll check out the link. As I said, I don’t delve deeply into all the nuances that the poem might have intended. Like you Tracy, I am often clueless, but figure I have enough to worry about than trying to understand a haiku which was written years ago by a now dead poet. Translations are always fraught with potential misinterpretations. A local poet took a bunch of Ryokan’s haiku and had them translated by a Chinese speaker. I was looking at a copy of it and wondered how close the translation was to the original. (Both were posted side by side.) I asked my son because he was studying Chinese at the Defense Language Institute as his main job with the Air Force. One line of this translated haiku said, “day after day” and my son read the line (in Chinese) as “day, day, day.” So the translation was reasonably close, but who knows with some of the others. ~nan
Nan and Mark, you’re both amazingly generous with your comments in this discussion. It’s enough for me to be confused by poetry in general, but to add translations to the mix then raises the confusion a whole other level. HA! Thank you for engaging with me on this. 🙂
beautiful Mark and I love you have created quite a challenge! 💞
Hi Cindy, Thank you! It is so nice to read what everyone writes. The creativity is so inspiring!
You’re so welcome. Yes, it’s truly wonderful Mark!💞
Hi Mark, thanks for all the inspiring and useful information about the peach and, also for the invitation to participate with a haiku.
in a clear moonlight
the first peach blossom
I have also posted the ku on my site with the link to your post.
Have a nice evening and a great weekend!
Are the marshmallows toasted? I can just see a bonfire in the moonlight, the fragrance of peach blossoms and marshmallows being toasted. Am I close? ~nan
Thank you for the powerful comment! I 💗
As says Albert Einstein’ Imagination is more powerful than knowledge’
Have a beautiful Sunday!
Imagination I have; knowledge not so much. I like Mark’s interpretation possibilities, too. ~nan
Same here, Nan.
(my button to Like doesn’t work most of the time)
Hi Anita, Thank you so much for sharing your work! My mind is shifting between peach blossoms and the bloom of the marsh mallow plant and then peach cobbler and marshmallows on a summer night! Such a great haiku to ponder! Thanks for adding to the conversation!
You’re most welcome, Mark and, thank you too for the kind encouragement and the uplifting support. I am so pleased you enjoyed my ku and I am overjoyed to travel with you in my mind over the peach blossoms. This calls for a small, true story from my childhood. My best friend was my brother Jan (now deceased). It was the first peach blossoms in Mauritius. I was seven (now in my mid-seventies). We saw a beautiful peach on our tree. I climbed the tree to pick the fruit, a branch broke under my weight, and I fell down. Jan stretched his tiny arms to catch me. He was two years my junior.
HI Mark, thanks for this, I love this time of year when things start coming alive, I have 2 for you today 🙂
Wonderful pair for this season! And I agree, the transition from the sleepiness of winter to the movement of spring is so great! Thanks so much for sharing your work.
Thanks Mark 🙂
Here’s mine: https://oddsends707138946.wordpress.com/2023/03/12/spring-pulse-by-britta-benson/
Thanks for another great prompt and a wonderful selection of haiku.
Hi Britta, Thank you for linking up and writing a wonderful piece about the potential of the spring season!
Calls to mind Li-Young Lee’s lyric poem “From Blossoms”
Hi Elen, Very nice suggestion for further reading! Here is a link to the poem from Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43012/from-blossoms
That is just in case someone reads your comment and wonders about the poem! Thanks for making that connection!
An uplifting post about beautiful peach blossom and I so enjoy reading everyone’s poems. Thank you, Mark.
Hi Lesley, Thanks so much for the comment and I am glad that you have enjoyed this discussion. I hope all is well!
lilac nursery . . .
daddy sends notes
Hi C.F.Tash, Thanks so much for sharing the moving piece of poetry! There is so much meaning underneath these three lines. I hope you have a good week!
Thank you, Mark, and thank you for putting together such a wonderfully informative blog article and for this fun haiku invitation!
I really like the “2 lives…” poem.
Hi Art, Yes! The two lives poem is wonderful. I have shared that one a couple of times this week. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation! Have a good week.