Oubaitori — Lessons from flowers

Renu Vijayanand
3 min readOct 20, 2021
Springtime in Japan

Have you ever thought that flowers can teach you lessons on how to lead your life? The Japanese principle of Oubaitori (pronounced oh-buy-toe-ree) is just that — a conceptual guide to a fulfilling life based on four trees that blossom in spring in Japan: Cherry, Plum, Peach, and Apricot. In fact, the word Oubaitori is written as a combination of the Japanese Kanji characters (symbols) for these four trees.

Springtime in Japan is a riot of colours, with these four trees blooming in shades of pink, mauve, blush and white. Though all of these trees co-exist alongside each other, each of them has a specific order, manner and time when they bloom.

Oubaitori teaches us the incomparable notion of non-comparison. While all these trees produce beautiful flowers which mature to become juicy fruit, Oubaitori seeks to celebrate the uniqueness of each of them. Peach with its juicy-sweet flavour is distinctly different from the tarty sweetness of the plum; both are equally enjoyable to eat and comparing between the two to determine which is better, is futile.

Extending this concept to life, it’s apparent that everyone’s life is different and each one has a unique path to traverse. Our values, our mindsets, our experiences, our choices, our perspectives, our successes and equally important, our failures, create a different path for each one of us. Siblings, even twins, having the same genetic heredity and brought up in the same family environment, grow up to become very different individuals. Then if no two individuals are the same, why do we end up comparing ourselves with others?

We scroll through updates of our friends and acquaintances on Instagram and Facebook, and unconsciously feel depressed that our life is not as “perfect”. We read about 25 year-old start-up founders who have made a few million dollars, and think how unfair it is that we are still plodding along in our insipid jobs, despite our good education and experience. With our every setback, we ask ourselves “Why me?” and with every other person’s windfall we ask “Why not me?”

Oubaitori is a refreshing change from the western craze of ‘’Keeping up with the Joneses”. The Oubaitori way is about enjoying a fulfilling life by doing what’s right for you, at the time and in the manner that is right for you.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become — Steve Jobs

Instead of moaning about what you lack, learn to capitalize on the strengths that you have been bestowed with. It’s for us to use the gifts we have, to maximize what we can do with our own life.

Our uniqueness is what adds distinct character to each one of us — let’s learn to enjoy our own unique journey to the utmost!