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 to the outside bath —
….rising to meet me, only
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:
An old woman, obscure in the interior, watches me as I climb up.
— Shuzenji, 23 October 2008