Mt. Mikami Haike

On the morning of Dec. 6th, five Hailstones, one guest poet, an MBS reporter and a TV cameraman gathered in front of Yasu Station. The guest was Judy Kendall, who had once lived in Kanazawa but was now on a visit from the UK. Yasu in Shiga Prefecture (Omi Country) is the birthplace of Kitamura Kigin (1624-1705), the teacher of Basho, and is famous for eye-catching Mt. Mikami (432 m). This name is an honorific for its god.  “I was pleased because  Mt. Mikami looked like  Mt. Fuji…”, Basho once wrote in his famous haibun, ‘Record of the Illusion-dwelling Hut’ (Genjuan no ki). The mountain is also known as Omi Fuji.

Omi Fuji’s base

red leaves under the green

centipede curling

(Judy Kendall)

The mountain has another name – ‘Mukade-yama’, Centipede Mountain! A tenth century folktale tells us that there once was a giant centipede inhabiting the mountain that harrassed people nearby. It wound itself round Omi Fuji seven-and-a-half times before being killed by the warrior Tawara-no-Hyota. The monster was presumed to have been the vengeful spirit of the deceased general, Taira-no-Masakado. Dreadful!

Before climbing, we visited Mikami Shrine to pray, as a courtesy, for a safe climb.  That morning, a wedding ceremony was being held.

priest’s invocation

for the bride and groom –

winter morning birdsong

(Hisashi Miyazaki)

The trail to the mountain-top was gated against the wild boar that might otherwise raid the village fields. Once past, our path climbed through dark cedar forest.

creaking trees

above, to left and right ―

beneath, a sapling sprout

(Sayoko Ozaki)

Under the coloured trees

poets discuss their poems –

birds singing high up

(Toshi Ida)

We came across a flat place where a temple called Myokendo had once stood. The only remaining wooden structure had completely collapsed.

In amongst the tiles

of the ruined temple,


and Ribobitan D


The trail become steeper and steeper as a view gradually spread out.

how many climbers

have grasped this root for aid

shining still like teak

(John McAteer)

top to bottom: a British Basho, a Japanese Wordsworth and an American Zeami?

At the top was a large sacred rock where Amenomikage (grandson of Amaterasu and diety of Mikami Shrine), had descended to earth. To have lunch on the rock would have been truly ‘awesome’ (but we refrained)! Instead, we rested on an outcrop just outside the consecrated zone. Wonderful was the view from the mountain out across the plain of Goshu (another name for Omi): withered winter paddies in sunshine, a hazy Hiei and Hira (mountains) across Biwa Lake.

right to left: SO, JK, HM, TI, Ms Nakao ( MBS reporter), SG, JM

Descending the mountain…

The steepened rock, pressed

so kindly into foot-shaped steps

by past travellers’ feet

(Judy Kendal)

At Wareiwa Rock, someone made a detour…

Caught in a giant rock –

the moment of fear before

kissing it


6 Responses to “Mt. Mikami Haike”

  1. An “awesome” posting, Hisashi san! And Tito, so beguiling, charming the rock itself!
    Wonderful poems, all.

  2. A ‘haike’ is a hike on which haiku are composed. I particularly like the cadence of John’s poem. In the fifth haiku, ‘eulalia’ means susuki 薄 grass, like a tiny version of pampass grass. ‘Ribobitan D’ is the brand name of an energy drink in a small brown bottle, which had been discarded there.

  3. Gosh, with that wonderful hill, sacred rock and fine poetry, I’m sure sad that I missed that haike… and with Judy Kendall too, a fellow Kanazawa-ite whom I didn’t meet while there but shared mutual friends… I like her ode to the ‘steepened rock’… Ah well, I await the next haike with eagerness. Meanwhile thanks for the fine report…

    • John Dougill Says:

      Sorry that last comment was not meant to be anonymous… I belatedly own up to posting it….

  4. Anonymous was surely John Dougill. See Events page for the next haike – Jan/Feb on Mt. Ogura.

  5. Thank you for taking me on this “haike” with you, Hisashi san (and poet company); I wish I could have been there! I love the sound of the word eulalia: it definitely demands its own line in the poem! In the next line, I experienced “Ribobitan D” as the irritant I think the poet intended. “Sapling sprout” has a great sound too.

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