Ubazakura - The cherry tree of the milk nurse
This story is about life, love and death. It celebrates and commemorates a woman who gave her life so that another could live. An ancient belief known as Migawari ni tatsu.
The prayers of a couple are answered with the birth of their daughter, Otsuyu. As the mother was deficient of milk, a milk nurse by the name of Osode was brought in to feed the baby. The child thrived but at the age of 15 Otsuyu fell sick and it was feared that she might die.
Osode, who had nursed the girl and who loved her as if she were her own went to the temple of Saihoji and prayed to Fudo-Sama for 21 days, offering her soul so that she might be permitted to die in place of her beloved Otsuyu. Her wish was granted and she asked that after her death, a cherry tree be planted in the garden of Saihoji to honour Fudo-Sama.
The following year the cherry tree blossomed on the anniversary of the milk nurse’s death. It did so on the 16th day of the second month and for 254 years thereafter.
“And it’s flowers, pink and white, were like the nipples of a woman’s breast, bedewed with milk.”