Adding fire to a debate that blossoms perennially around this time in East Asia, a Chinese industry group has claimed that a historic literary reference confirms that Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms originated in China, not in Japan, and sure as hell not in South Korea.
He Zongru, executive chairman of the China Cherry Industry Association, cites a Japanese monograph on cherry blossoms in making his claim. It states that the flower originated in the Himalayan mountains of China and did not reach Japan until the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
“We don’t want to get into a war of words with Japan and South Korea, but we want to assert a fact: Many historical documents confirm that the cherry blossom’s place of origin is in China,” He told the Southern Metropolis Daily on Monday. “As Chinese people, we have a responsibility to let more people know this history.”
While He’s motives are undoubtedly pure, this revelation isn’t likely to sit well with fellow rival claimant to the cherry blossom throne—South Korea. In recent years some South Korean media organizations have vehemently trumpeted their own nation as the plant’s holy land. According to Rocket News, they assert that the Somei Yoshino, Japan’s most prized cherry blossom breed, originated from South Korea’s Jeju Island. Moreover, the tradition of going out and enjoying the beauty of the fleeting blooming period of the cherry blossoms, well, that comes from South Korea.
He Zongru is quick to slap down this pretender. “To put it simply, cherry blossoms originated in China and prospered in Japan. None of this is Korea’s business,” he said.
Chinese and Japanese relations have been a bit rocky for the last century or so and this latest controversy isn’t likely to improve the rapport between the nation’s heads of state.
We say to let a hundred flowers bloom in this debate, but most importantly, learn from Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and take lots of pictures with Japanese cherry blossoms while we still have the chance.
by Alex Linder
[Images via Xinhua]