The Green Man


On Saturday 15th, high on Mt. Ogura, he felled five dead pines, dragging each in turn to a timber pool, where he stripped off the branches and dissected the trunks for later removal from the mountain. Pine disease is rife. Two days later, as chance would have it, some tourists spied him high in the branches of an olive tree very near Saga Arashiyama Station, picking a bag of ripe black fruit from precarious branches almost out of reach. The process of pickling them in brine was begun. Tuesday saw him moving through the branches of a fragrant olive (kinmokusei) outside his own bedroom window, pruning the tree severely to let in the light and to rid himself of the pair of mountain pigeons that had recently been roosting there and waking him up with fervent cooing at crack of dawn. On Wednesday, paints were prepared and white card was cut and decorated in preparation for the transcription of poems with which to celebrate a distant special tree.  Then Saturday again, and with two ladders and a dozen other hands, he hung people’s haiku and wishes on the fairy pine tree he’d found (with a squirrel) presiding over Teika’s Vale. This tree had demanded attention, seeming to be drawing about itself the backdrop of the Kitayama hills and autumn-hued Atago to set its own self off. Finally, last Sunday, blessed with fine weather, fifty or so people – including that man – congregated near the Ogura summit to hear poems, compose their own verse, and then inscribe them on the card tags that had been offered to guests. Another vigorous pine with branches to spare was then dressed. After all had gone home, heavy rain fell that night and a wind blew. But for a short while longer, it is said, the fairy tree will bear those fading, ragged poems … and the man will stay on earth.

…………………….松杉をほめてや風のかをる音 (芭蕉)

The pines and the cedars

Are praised by the wind

……As it blows on through.             (Basho)p1080531

4 Responses to “The Green Man”

  1. Moya Bligh Says:

    I love the photograph …and wouldn’t another one of
    the whole tree with the poems hanging from it let
    us see just how it all looks?

  2. This time, I wish you to use your imagination; but I’ll bring a photo or two to Hibikiai Forum next week.

  3. John Dougill Says:

    Well, there’s a coincidence… I was just looking at a booklet on The Green Man yesterday…. I thought he was prone to hiding in medieval churches, but obviously he’s out on the hills of Kyoto too… What an inspirational figure, heh….
    We should all be Green Men at heart….

  4. Nobuyuki Yuasa Says:

    I am truly grateful for your efforts to save Mt. Ogura. I always love to read about your activities. I am afraid I do not know much about ‘the green man’. I should appreciate it very much if you would tell me who he is and what function he plays in your legendary stories. I know a medieval poem called ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ It is a wonderful poem and I love the mysterious knight all dressed in green who challenges King Arthur on Christmas day! I wonder if your green man has anything to do with this knight. Incidentally, your haibun sounds like a diary. I think haibun sounds better if the time sequence is slightly disordered.

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