Of the many poems and stories about mothers and children, down-to-earth "senryu" poems seem to be the ones that really pull at people's heartstrings and fill their hearts with sweet nostalgia.
For instance, a charming piece by Yoshino Aso is about a mother who was awakened by the sound of a bell at dawn and realized that she had fallen asleep while nursing her baby.
Here is another charmer by Yugehei Maruyama: "With only his foot touching his mother/ The older child sleeps." This is about a toddler who feels a bit left out because he can no longer monopolize his mother after the arrival of a new baby. He tentatively stretches his leg until his foot touches his slumbering mother and then falls asleep contentedly. The poem would not work if the mother were replaced by his father.
Mother's Day is for people to thank and remember their mothers. For a few days leading up to the day, flower shops in Japan overflow with carnations. Early summer brings out colorful flowers of all kinds, but the carnation is definitely the flower of choice on Mother's Day.
A letter from a woman in her 70s appeared last autumn in the letters to the editor section of The Asahi Shimbun’s Nagoya edition. She said she still treasures an old letter, written in an unformed hand by her daughter, who was then in the first grade of an elementary school, apologizing for being able to buy only one carnation because she had already spent most of her pocket money.
I can well imagine how that single carnation must have continued to warm this mother's heart for decades.
Japan’s Mother's Day is said to have originated in the United States about one hundred years ago, when a woman held a memorial service for her late mother. The latter had loved white carnations, and the daughter handed them to everyone who attended the service. Many people were touched by the service, and the idea spread across the nation. It was introduced to Japan after World War II, and the carnation remains the flower of Mother's Day here.
Everyone is someone's child, no matter how old they are. Utsubo Kubota (1877-1967), a prominent poet, penned this piece: "Even though I'm an old man of 85/ My heart fills with longing when I think of my mother/ Today is Mother's Day."
Our messages of love and thanks will surely reach our mothers, even if they are no longer with us.
—The Asahi Shimbun, May 13
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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