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Encouragement

Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom: Let’s Set Forth With Hope!

Photo Taken In Germany, Berlin

It’s spring!
Cherry blossoms!
In full bloom!
Hope! Victory!
Cherry blossoms of youth!
Cherry blossoms of happiness
enduring the bitter winter
to bloom in profusion!

I composed this poem for my young friends, shortly after the establishment of Soka University.

The cherry blossoms are now celebrating all of you, the members of the future division, who have embarked on a new school year—some of you starting new schools or new grades! Congratulations!

When I started elementary school, I remember eagerly opening my Japanese textbook and seeing a pretty picture of a cherry tree with these words underneath: “In bloom, in bloom, the cherry trees are in bloom.” Since then, cherry blossoms came to symbolize flowers that encourage me to study and strive harder.

Daisaku Ikeda

Shortly after I started school, World War II began, and my four older brothers were all drafted into the military one by one. My eldest brother, whom I loved dearly, died in the war. When my mother received the news of his death, her body trembled as she wept in grief. This experience made me staunchly opposed to war.

Cherry trees were also destroyed in the air raids and cut down for fuel. During those dark and painful times, I had a dream: to someday plant cherry trees throughout Japan and the world so that people everywhere could enjoy a “springtime of peace.”

This wish inspired me to compose the children’s story The Cherry Tree. It is about an old cherry tree that was burnt in the air raids. A boy and a girl protect the tree from the cold, harsh winter, enabling it to bloom beautifully again in the spring.

The acclaimed British illustrator Brian Wildsmith (1930–2016) created wonderful pictures for the book, which is imbued with our shared desire that all of you, who shoulder the future, will cause flowers of peace to bloom.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, also loved cherry trees. Once when his business was in dire straits, he said to me with deep emotion: “Look how those cherry trees have come into bloom again, after weathering the frigid cold of winter!”

In Mr. Toda’s hometown of Atsuta in Hokkaido, there is a Soka Gakkai memorial park that bears his name.

It was originally believed that Atsuta was too cold for Japan’s typical Yoshino cherry trees to survive, but I had long wished to be able to plant my mentor’s favorite trees there.

One of our members responded to my wish and took on this challenge. He began to plant cherry trees in the park, wrapping the trunk of each one in straw and plastic sheeting to keep them warm in winter. He also made efforts to improve the soil underneath the trees. After 10 years of hard work, he finally achieved the impossible. The cherry trees bloomed at last!

Now, every spring, 8,000 cherry trees bloom in glorious profusion at the memorial park in Atsuta, which has become one of Hokkaido’s top scenic spots for cherry blossom viewing and is visited by large numbers of people each year.

Cherry trees remain undefeated by the harsh winter cold to produce beautiful flowers.

Human beings have the same potential. When we are faced with hardship or something we find difficult, as long as we give our all with the determination not to be defeated, we can grow and develop beyond our imagination. Happiness and victory are found in making continuous efforts.

Like the cherry trees that bloom even after the coldest winter, you, too, can cause flowers of victory to bloom in your lives without fail. Therefore, please keep pressing ahead, patiently, energetically and dynamically.

Let’s set forth together with the cherry blossoms and with hope!

The Fighting Spirit of SGI Members

Proudly Studying Nichiren Daishonin’s Teachings and Savoring the Joy of Human Revolution