There is an old cherry tree in my garden. It has been left abandoned in adverse conditions for some time, and has been home to countless caterpillars and bugs.

The cherry blossom is one of flowers that symbolizes the beginning of spring in Japan. When cherry trees are fully blossomed, they look magnificent. When the flowers fall from the trees, they leave us with a special sort of sentiment. As the trees’ flowering duration is very short, it is a Japanese tradition to observe the time of blossoming with great affection.

In March and April, all across Japan, you can find the beautiful scenery of cherry trees, with their pale pink flowers. These trees are well treated and maintained carefully in order to protect them from disease and bugs. Therefore, their leaves keep their shape and are all balanced in size (even as they fall from the trees in bunches).

In autumn, when I picked up the leaves of the abandoned old cherry tree in my garden, I noticed a striking difference with the trees elsewhere. The leaves looked ugly; they were varied in size and bitten by bugs. There was no single leaf that retained its original figure.

However I found this uniqueness to be striking. The strength of the tree and its leaves—a half-year after the usual intense period of observation—is what I have focused on in this series. The rugged charm of the individual leaf, so different from the beauty of the flower, is my subject.

For us, when asked about a cherry tree, we tend to imagine its flower. But we should be reminded of the entire plant system: the trunk, its branches and twigs, all the pieces which make up the structure of the tree. And then, of course, the leaves that give us a beautiful scenery and, hidden in the soil, the roots which take up the nutrients necessary for life.

When all these functions are at work, then, for the first time the tree can blossom.

—Mitsuo Suzuki