My childhood story 2/2 (The coffin of chrysanthemums)
When I was 4 or 5 years old, I visited “The Chrysanthemum Festival” in Osaka Castle together with my family. Japanese chrysanthemums have large gorgeous varieties, and there are often competitions of new varieties in autumn. We were allowed to pick some chrysanthemums in the field and take them home. I was so fascinated by those incredibly beautiful and huge flowers, and picked a couple. I cherished them and wanted to treat them as gems. I put them in my money box just like to hide treasures. When I opened the box again a week later, there was no flower inside any more – there was only brown mud on the bottom of the box. At first, I could not figure out what had happened, but then I came to understand something so profoundly important which I knew nothing about.
Every life ends.
Everything changes its form.
Nothing stays the same.
Those beautiful chrysanthemums gave me this shocking and powerful lesson. I was taught about life from chrysanthemums.
In Japan chrysanthemum is the symbol of the emperor and its emblem is on Japanese passport. Chrysanthemum can also represent funeral in Japan and long life in China. Through my childhood experience, chrysanthemum became a metaphor of life and death for me.
Japan is often regarded as a non-religious country where people mix all kind of religions. People go to a shrine on New Year’s Day, have wedding at a church and have Buddhist funeral. But I believe that spirituality is deeply engraved in Japanese mind. I am one of such Japanese who believe that there is something bigger and higher than what we think we know. I use the symbol of chrysanthemum in my glass work to express that every life is connected somehow with each other, and life can go on from the past to the future – even from before birth and after death.