cseas nl75 Nishibuchi Mitsuaki Professor, CSEAS

Cherry Trees in the Courtyard and My Memory at CSEAS

Every year, the cherry trees growing the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) courtyard of the area study building complex located to the east of the Inamori memorial building entertain us when the cherry blossoms bloom in spring. However, it was no so long ago when the cherry trees were planted. Twenty years ago, when I first started at CSEAS, there was a big incinerator in their place. The chimney of the incinerator discharged dense clouds of black smoke when a cleaning lady threw our garbage into it on an almost daily basis. Sometime after I settled down enough at the center, I was appointed as chair of the building management committee of our center and my first big mission was to fight to stop the black smoke from the chimney and the white smoke from tobacco lovers for the health of CSEAS members in general. My long-lasting struggle against the black & white smoke ended when we found a reliable garbage-disposal company and established non-smoking rules. The cherry trees then successfully occupied “the incinerator slot.” I still believe the end results are my best contribution to the center. On a peaceful day and/or on a dreaming night in spring when I can confirm that the growth of the cherry trees has more beautiful blossom than the previous year, it diminishes my smoky memory and prompts me to record the growing cherry trees on film.

A comparative observation of the pictures can confirm solid year-by-year growth of the trees thanks to the efforts of very good caretakers; they still keep growing day and night and show up very nicely even in the rain and snow. Not only has the size of the trees, but also the change in the morphology of the blossoms shown sign of growth and early maturation of the trees. The picture illustrated on the back over was taken in the early morning in 2014; the plates of the blossoms became dense enough to change their colors in a fascinating fashion in harmony with changing background colors of the sky during the morning – day – night shifts. Two years later, last spring, they became voluptuous and stimulated me to shoot their very beautiful figures in the depths of night with the aid of artificial illumination. I cannot imagine how much more fabulously they will blossom this coming spring.

Of the two big cherry trees, the one planted near the Inamori building is more appealing to me, but the other one which looks a little younger, but is growing more vividly, may appear more attractive to others. I am tempted to compare this ever-growing pair to our newly inaugurated CSEAS. I therefore decided in my mind for them to be the symbolic trees of CSEAS and encourage my laboratory members to keep growing with an aim of going “beyond the boundaries” just like the pair of ever-growing cherry-trees.