Autumn Haiku Hike to the Summit of Mt. Tateyama

..  コスモスに魅せられ道を迷いけり
…….. From the highway
…….. proceeding to the wrong exit,
…….. charmed by cosmos flowers
……………… (Atsushi Mori, trans. HM)
…… Alright. I admit, the above haiku is about Tito’s van; but all was well in the end, and three cars’ worth of Hailstone poets and poets’ companions piled out, lacing up their climbing boots at Tateyama Station, after the long journey from Kansai to the highlands of Toyama-ken. A cablecar took us first to 美女平 Bijodaira, from where a special reduced-emission bus drove us up to over 2000m and a view out onto the sea of clouds below.
..  秋風は立山杉の吐く息か
…….. Is this the outbreath
…….. of Tateyama’s giant cedars*?
…….. The autumn breeze
………………. (Miki Kotera, trans. SG)

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…… Heading off up the mountain from 室堂 Murodo along a stone-paved trail, wide as a Roman road, by dusk the party arrived at the Pass of  Ichinokoshi 一の越, where we stayed the night in the yamagoya (mountaineers’ hut). A white stew dinner was followed by a boisterous sharing of poems and half-poems. We needed many layers of futons to keep warm.
..  へイルストーン眠るに惜しき天の川
…….. for Hailstones
…….. too enchanted to sleep,
…….. the Milky Way
……………… (Hisashi Miyazaki)
…… David jogged almost to the top of a nearby peak before breakfast. The rest of us started off uphill in a less sporty way. For some, the climb was hard, but nothing as compared with the descent later! It is a very steep path through scree and boulders. At the first summit, there is a small shrine, 雄山神社 Oyama Jinja, in whose tiny walled temenos* an orange-robed priest announced our presence to the mountain kami* through norito (invocation), as we sat, heads bowed, on a pebble carpet that had been brought stone by stone over the centuries by Tateyama’s endless stream of pilgrims.
.. 天高し神の足音聞く祠
…….. High autumn sky –
…….. from a box shrine under it
…….. footsteps of gods
……………… (Sachiko Kawaharada, trans. SG)
…… Lunch was taken at a further peak along the ridge, 大汝山 Onanjiyama, 3015m. From here, we could just make out the cone of Mt. Fuji rising far beyond the jagged skyline of the Yatsugatake Range and the Chuo Alps.
…… Having returned to Oyama, we prepared for the descent, as cloud began to creep in from the south.
…….. Taking our bread
…….. and giving us entertainment,
…….. rock larks*
…….. at an alpine shrine
.. ぼくらのパンをついばんでは/ぼくらを楽しませる/イワヒバリ/高嶺の社に(宮崎訳)
……………… (Tito)
…… Kyoko bought a pilgrim’s staff at the shrine as something to lean on. She soon traded it, however, with another pilgrim for a more lightweight ‘mountain girl’ model! Yes, there were now slips and slides and spills by several, if not all, of the party. These were taken in good spirit and with reassuring words. On the trail, the poets seemed so concerned for others’ welfare that they themselves forgot to stay upright. Well, what’s a good climb – or a ‘haike’ – without a little wear and tear?
…… Cloud lowered itself softly yet firmly over the crest we had been walking on an hour or two before.
…….. one thing remains
…….. from the mountain path –
…….. the scent of last year’s snow.
.. ひとつのものが残りおり/山道から/去年の雪の香(宮崎訳)
……………… (David McCullough)

giant cedars – cryptomeria; temenos – sacred sanctuary; kami – Shinto god(s); rock larks – iwahibari, a type of accentor

7 responses to “Autumn Haiku Hike to the Summit of Mt. Tateyama

  1. Although there had been a spring 2001 predecessor (Kumano Kodo part I), our first annual autumn haike (haiku hike) was in 2002, exactly two years after the Hailstone Haiku Circle was founded. Perhaps some will be interested to think back over the 9 haikes preceding the one reported above:

    2002 Mt. Hira, Shiga
    2003 Odaigahara, Nara to Osugidani Gorge, Mie
    2004 Nakasendo along Kiso Valley, Nagano
    2005 Mt. Ishizuchi, Ehime
    2006 Yamanobe Way, Nara
    2007 Tango, Kyoto
    2008 Kumano Kodo part II, Wakayama
    2009 Mt. Mikami, Shiga
    2010 Koyasan Pilgrims’ Way, Wakayama
    2011 Mt. Tateyama, Toyama

    Long live the Hailstone Autumn Haike, and thank you to all who make them possible!

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  3. A very nice report, great pictures and even better haiku! I think I like David’s snow poem best but I wonder why he changed “taste” to “scent”. I clearly remember him eating the snow!
    I didn’t submit my own haiku as I didn’t feel it made the grade, but I have posted it up on my own site (as a record of a learning experience) along with my own pictures. Here’s the link:
    Many thanks again to Stephen, Atsushi, and Hisashi for organizing this trip and also to David for driving us. We really enjoyed it!

  4. Looking at the magnificent photos and reading Tito’s haiku-studded travelogue made me green with envy — I really wanted to join you all on Tateyama! Sadly, one too many late nights finishing off my PhD thesis meant my respiratory tract was in no state to be dragged up a mountain that weekend. Sigh (cough). But I am happy to report that I was able to submit the thesis last week. A different mountain scaled, at least….

    Scanning Tito’s list reminds me I’ve been on most of the autumn haikes over the years, and what a fabulous opportunity to view the natural and historical treasures of Japan they’ve provided. At the same time, in recording the journey on paper, Tito and my other ‘haiking’ companions have captured moments that live on in our poem compilations and allow anyone to access the wonder of the trail.

    Long live the autumn haike, and see you on the next one.

  5. I enjoyed reading the report of your autumn haiku to Tateyama. I did the so-called the Alpine route about ten years ago. I stayed overnight at Midagahara, but I did not climb Mt. Tateyama because I felt a bit dizzy when I reached Murodo. However, I went to Shomyo Waterfall. I was very much impressed by its height. I was also impressed by the shape of Tsurugi-dake, whose summits looked very much like swords sticking into the sky. Among the haiku poems in the reprot, I think I liked best Hisashi Miyazaki’s poem about the Milky Way. Stars must have been great. In our city life, we forget about the stars, but in the mountains they are so close to us.

      山深し頭上におちる天の川     走水
      Deep in the mountains
    Ready to fall on my head,
    The great Milky Way. Sosui

  6. Great report. It captured the movement of the hike. Sometimes it’s nice to be on the trail without experiencing those bumps and bruises.

    Great photos too! A couple could be post cards!! kaching, kaching ¥$.

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