Autumn (Tokyo Studio)

Soukou: Insects tuck themselves away/ first frost (3 of 5)

November 6th, 2008

Soukou 13 of 15It has been a very still day today and the sky was kind of hazy. The meteorological agency forecasts rain from tomorrow onwards – so I thought we must cease the day and fly the kite again. We headed out to the Arakawa (river) in Kita-senju, just north of Ueno. We previously visited the town on the occassion of the Adachi Kite Festival. My fancy idea to fly a kite however was not realised as there was a noticeable lack of wind. So instead a random ramble around the historical town was in order.

Kita-senju was one of the four shukueki (post-station)/ shubuka (post-towns) in the Tokyo area during the Edo period. These post-station towns lay along one of the five national routes to Edo; travelers, especially officials, rested in these places. Kita-senju has preserved a number of buildings constructed during this time and has retained the traditional narrow alleys layout of old Edo towns.

Traditional shops abound in Senju from the not-so-rare yao-ya (green grocers), tōfu-ya (tofu shops), wagashi-ya (Japanese sweets shops), and kisseten (traditional tea/ dessert houses) to specialty shops like, tsukemono-ya (pickle shops), kanbutsu-ya (dried food shops), korokke-ya (croquette shops), and sembai shops (Japanese crackers). There are also many traditional clothing stores in the old shopping street (with a target market of the more elderly age bracket). The overall sense of architecture in the town, however, is less a matter of the old meets the new but more of one of practicality.

The Kita-senju railway station stamp informs me that this is where the haiku poet Basho left on his journey when he wrote the poems in Oku no Hosomichi. This is what he wrote:

yuku haru ya | tori naku uo no | me wa namida

spring’s leaving
birds cry
fish eyes blink tears

4 Responses to “Soukou: Insects tuck themselves away/ first frost (3 of 5)”

  1. 1 Louise
    November 10th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Jo this is an amazing image! I have been reading Haiku and have to put some in here for you but can’t find the book right now. Ellen and I had dinner at Fireworks last Thurs and we did some laughing and some crying – you will see them in two days! Wow. The water was 18.8 in the Austi pool, the garden Lizzie and Lucas are growing is amazing, Redmond will be impressed, so verdant and only Nov. All the same here but as always very different … we leased a house in Wybelena Grove in Cook today, full of nooks, timber and bush, real bush, nearby. I am very happy. Even happier that dinner at the Fireworks was good as that will be fun in mid Dec. Lots of love, LC xxx

  2. 2 jolaw
    November 11th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Louise, some Haiku will be great – have you come across any that is about contrast? Australia is heating up and Japan is definitely cooling down…. Great to hear about your house in Wybelena Grove around the bush, can’t wait to visit.

  3. 3 Lucas
    November 17th, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I’m a big fan of Basho too, Jo. I haven’t got it in front of me, but there’s a great book of his work called “the narrow road to the deep north” or something like that. The thing I liked about the haiku was that in this book, they were embedded in a longer prose story. He would be on a journey somewhere, this would be described in some detail in paragraphs, and then, at a certain moment, something particular caught his eye or struck him as odd or fascinating, and he would then slip into the haiku mode, to “capture it” – perhaps like you use a photograph to “capture” something in the narrative of your blog entries?

  4. 4 jolaw
    November 21st, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I read some haiku (in Japanese) with my Japanese tutor as part of my lesson. It is still a popluar activity today. The JR trains introduce seasonal haiku periodically on their television screens on board. Magazines often call for entries for competition. You can read students’ composition about their daily lives.

    I am interested in the travel aspect of Basho’s haiku. His trips were really pilgrimages – which I suppose can be regarded as the forerunner of modern tourism. (See comments: Along Basho’s route, there are now Haiku stones where the haiku was supposed composed (or as you say:’captured’) see: