“Memories of the Sea Shore”

It happened at the very last moment. I didn’t expect a week off of work this summer, but fortunately I wangled it. I spent five nights and six days in America with my husband and his friends––five nights and six days, a typical Japanese holiday. Three of those nights we spent on the sea shore, at the Isle of Palms, just north of Charleston, South Carolina. The weather was perfect, neitheIMG_7929r too hot nor too humid; it welcomed me, and I relaxed.

Up to my balcony
A sea breeze carries
The sound of slow waves––
Summer afternoon

The long, white beach spread out before our holiday condominium. The waves were calm; the tide ebbed. We walked down the sandy beach toward the north end of the peninsula, the green of a golf course to one side, the green of the Atlantic ocean to the other.

On a lingering bubble
A rainbow boomerang forms––
Receding wave

A hand print
On a heart shaped sand castle––
Evening glow

At the close of day, we walked down to the beach again, and listened to the waves as they lapped the shore by night. The sky was quite clear, but lights from the condominiums washed out the constellations.

A shooting star
Draws a fresh line
On a black canvas

sea-shore

Moons West & East

A while back, Tito told me of the “Ayame Society,” of which I had been unaware. The society was formed in London  a century or so ago “to establish a garden where the poetic flowers of East and West compete in their fragrances.” Seeing as how it now is, or soon will be, moon-viewing season in Kyoto, I post a short poem concerning the moon by the American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963), in the  hope that this voice from the West might inspire some replies in haiku, here in the Icebox.

“The Freedom of the Moon”

I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
As you might try a jewel in your hair.
I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
Alone, or in one ornament combining
With one first-water star almost as shining.

I put it shining anywhere I please.
By walking slowly on some evening later,
I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
And brought it over glossy water, greater,
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.

west running brook

N.B. “The Freedom of the Moon” was collected first in Frost’s 1928 volume “West-Running Brook.” The image reproduced here is from a signed first edition of the book, given to me by Jack Hagstrom, a dear friend of the poet himself.

In the footsteps of the dancing girl

When I was a tourist in Japan in October last year, I visited Izu Peninsula and followed late novelist Kawabata’s path from Shuzenji 修善寺 down to Kawazu 河津, the centre of his Dancing Girl (「伊豆の踊子」) lore.

I attempted to capture some of the serendipity (偶然) of the trip in a haibun. Now my travelogue has gone up on the website JapanVisitor, and I would cheekily like to mark the ‘event’ by posting my haibun and a link to the site. I hope these are of interest.

Rain comes on soon after I walk into the spa town Shuzenji in central Izu. I have the modest Fukui Minshuku to myself.
early into the outside bath –
meet me,
to only
rising raindrops
The welcoming shower subsides just in time for me to visit the eponymous temple before nightfall. But I slip on one of the slick stone steps on the way out, and come down hard on one hand.
1201 years ago the Shingon monk Kōbō Daishi struck his iron staff into the riverbed in Shuzenji and up welled a curative hot spring. Tokko-no-yu is now used as a footbath. I have other ideas….
plunging my stinging wrist
thrice into Iron-Staff Spring:
Kūkai answers my prayer
After a stroll among bamboo thickets glistening in lamplight, I reach the steps that lead up to my inn. To the right is a small torii in the gloom. Something else smoulders orange at my feet.
rusty toad on the step
someone croaks from the shrine:
“what’s there?”
An old woman, obscure in the interior, watches me as I climb up.
Richard Donovan
Shuzenji, 23 October 2008

Rain comes on soon after I walk into the spa town Shuzenji in central Izu. I have the modest Fukui Minshuku to myself.

….early to the outside bath —

….rising to meet me, only

….raindrops

The welcoming shower subsides just in time for me to visit the eponymous temple before nightfall. But I slip on one of the slick stone steps on the way out, and come down hard on one hand.

1201 years ago the Shingon monk Kobo Daishi struck his iron staff into the riverbed in Shuzenji and up welled a curative hot spring. Tokko-no-yu is now used as a footbath. I have other ideas….

….plunging my stinging wrist

….thrice into Iron-Staff Spring:

….Kukai answers my prayer.

After a stroll among bamboo thickets glistening in lamplight, I reach the steps that lead up to my inn. To the right is a small torii in the gloom. Something else smoulders orange at my feet.

….rusty toad on the step

….someone croaks from the shrine:

….“what’s there?”

An old woman, obscure in the interior, watches me as I climb up.

— Shuzenji, 23 October 2008

http://www.japanvisitor.com/index.php?cID=357&pID=2048