UME (Prunier Flower) : A fragrance sweet and crystalline.
A card with perfumed petals of Japanese paper.
Send a scented message to your loved one.
Yet if not to you, to whom might I show it?
The flowering plum!
Only the knowing can know both its colour and its scent.
(After a poem by Kino Tomonori, Kokinwakashu anthology)
In another time, during the Heian period (794-1192), the Japanese expressed their thoughts in the form of poetry.
The poetic form usually adopted for love letters and other correspondence was the waka, a short poem of 31 syllables. These poems can express melancholy and sadness as much as a profound love of nature. However, more often than not they were declarations of love, called kokoroba in Japanese. The responses were also in the form of a poem. The message was perfumed with incense and attached to the branch of a blossoming tree. Expressing the essence of the sender's thoughts in only a few words, the poem was dispatched in this manner to the person for whom they were composed.