Oku Station 21 - Matsushima


- Oku no Hosomichi - 奥の細道 - おくのほそ道
The Narrow Road to the Deep North -

. Oku no Hosomichi - 奥の細道 - Introduction .


source : 1000ya.isis.ne.jp

Basho and Sora on the way to Oshima 雄島 (Matsushima)
Painting by Buson


- - - Station 21 - Matsushima 松島 - - -

Much praise has already been lavished on the wonders of the islands of Matsushima. Yet if further praise is possible, I would like to say that here is the most beautiful spot in the whole country of Japan, and that the beauty of these islands is not in the least inferior to the beauty of Lake Dotei or Lake Seiko in China. The islands are situated in a bay about three miles wide in every direction and open to the sea through a narrow mouth on the south-east side. Just as the River Sekko in China is made full at each swell of the tide, so is this bay filled with the brimming water of the ocean and the innumerable islands are scattered over it from one end to the other.

Tall islands point to the sky and level ones prostrate themselves before the surges of water. Islands are piled above islands, and islands are joined to islands, so that they look exactly like parents caressing their children or walking with them arm in arm. The pines are of the freshest green and their branches are curved in exquisite lines, bent by the wind constantly blowing through them. Indeed, the beauty of the entire scene can only be compared to the most divinely endowed of feminine countenances, for who else could have created such beauty but the great god of nature himself? My pen strove in vain to equal this superb creation of divine artifice.

Ojima Island where I landed was in reality a peninsula projecting far out into the sea. This was the place where the priest Ungo had once retired, and the rock on which he used to sit for meditation was still there. I noticed a number of tiny cottages scattered among the pine trees and pale blue threads of smoke rising from them. I wondered what kind of people were living in those isolated houses, and was approaching one of them with a strange sense of yearning, when, as if to interrupt me, the moon rose glittering over the darkened sea, completing the full transformation to a night-time scene. I lodged in an inn overlooking the bay, and went to bed in my upstairs room with all the windows open. As I lay there in the midst of the roaring wind and driving clouds, I felt myself to be in a world totally different from the one I was accustomed to. My companion Sora wrote:

Clear voiced cuckoo,
Even you will need
The silver wings of a crane
To span the islands of Matsushima.

I myself tried to fall asleep, supressing the surge of emotion from within, but my excitement was simply too great. I finally took out my notebook from my bag and read the poems given me by my friends at the time of my departure - Chinese poem by Sodo, a waka by Hara Anteki, haiku by Sampu and Dakushi (Jokushi濁子 / 蜀子) , all about the islands of Matsushima.

I went to the Zuiganji temple on the eleventh. This temple was founded by Makabe no Heishiro after he had become a priest and returned from China, and was later enlarged by the Priest Ungo into a massive temple with seven stately halls embellished with gold. The priest I met at the temple was the thirty-second in descent from the founder. I also wondered in my mind where the temple of the much admired Priest Kenbutsu could have been situated.

Tr. by Nobuyuki Yuasa
source : terebess.hu/english

抑ことふりにたれど、松嶋は扶桑第一の好風にして、凡洞庭西湖を恥ず。東南より海を入て、江の中三里、浙江の 湖をたゝふ。嶋/\の数を尽して、欹ものは天を指、ふすものは波に 葡蔔。あるは二重にかさなり三重に畳みて、左にわかれ右につらなる。負るあり抱るあり、児孫愛すがごとし。松の緑こまやかに、枝葉汐風に吹たはめて、屈曲をのづからためたるがごとし。其景色えう然として美人の顔を粧ふ。ちはや振神のむかし、大山ずみのなせるわざにや。造化の天工、いづれの人か筆をふるひ詞を尽さむ。


松嶋や鶴に身をかれほとゝぎす 曾良



. Nakagawa Jokushi 中川 濁子 / 蜀子 .


- - - - - Peipei Qiu writes:

Bashô avoids writing a poem on Matsushima, though he praises it as “the most beautiful place in Japan.”
He writes:
“Matsushima must have been made by the Mountain God in the distant past when the deities created the world. Who could capture this heavenly work of zôka with his brush and words?”

This passage reveals that Bashô’s silence before such a magnificent landscape is intended to demonstrate the inadequacy of language in comparison with the creation of zôka.

source : Basho-and-the-Dao- Peipei-Qiu


Kenbutsu Hijiri 彼見仏聖

Kenbutsu Hijiri built a hermitage on Ojima and practiced austerities there for 12 years. He read the Lotus Sutra repeatedly and was admired by the Emperor Toba. Saigyo was quite fond of this man and came here to visit him and ended up spending three months.
Notes by Yuasa - Terebess

. Hijiri ひじり【聖】"holy men"  .


source : kibitantan


aa natsuyasumi

summer holidays
aa, summer holidays
summer holidays


. Oku no Hosomichi - 奥の細道 - Introduction .

. WKD : Matsushima 松島 .