Wakanoura Ginkō 和歌浦吟行 & Annular Eclipse 金環日食観察

20th May 2012. A bus from JR Wakayama Station takes 12 Hailstone poets to 不老橋 Furō Bridge opposite 塩竈神社 Shiogama Shrine, whose ancient sanctum is carved out of the striated cliffs and topped with a gnarled pine tree that seems an extension of the rock itself. 

Low spring tide
at Shiogama Shrine –
still the schist flows
…………………..Kittredge Stephenson

There, we watch the priest bless first an infant; then, a dog.

In a cave decorated by past waves,
all wish happiness for the newborn.
………………………………………Hiroko Okamoto 

We visit 玉津島神社 Tamatsushima Shrine, one of the three patron shrines of 和歌 waka and repository of a designated natural monument – an ancient tree (another pine?) writhing in fantastic tortured shapes. Here, we observe a wedding; the bride in traditional white bonnet, white gown.  One hundred steps above the shrine, the view from 奠供山 Mt. Tengu, which Emperor Shōmu climbed with the poet, 山辺赤人 Yamabe no Akahito, early in the eighth century, unscrolls Wakanoura Bay before us.

若の浦に潮満ち来れば潟(かた)を無(な)み 葦辺(あしべ)をさして鶴(たづ)鳴き渡る (山辺赤人 CE. 724)
As the tide flows in / To Wakanoura Bay, / Sandbars are lost beneath the waves … / Cranes fly crying / Towards the reedy shore. (trans. SG)

We then cross 三断橋 Sandankyō Bridge to the tiered pagoda 海禅院 Kaizen’in on 妹背山 Imoseyama islet … 

…. the mudflat
…. all to herself –
…. clamdigger
……………………. – Gerald 

A convivial lunch is washed down with drinks of fresh ginger; and we are soon walking again, along あしべ通り Ashibe St. beside a tidal canal (punctuated by derelict wooden fishing boats) towards Wakanoura port, where we turn off through 御手洗池公園 Mitarai-ike Park. Beyond are the steep, nobly weathered green stone steps leading up to 和歌浦天満宮 Wakaura-Tenmangū, one of the nation’s three chief Tenmangū shrines, each dedicated to 菅原道真 Sugawara no Michizane, a Heian scholar and diplomat later deified as 天神 Tenjin, God of Learning. Wakanoura is the port from where he left on exile.
老(ろう)を積む身は浮き船に誘(さそ)はれて 遠ざかり行く和歌の浦波 (菅原道真 CE. 901)
My weary old body has been bidden / To depart aboard this bobbing ship: / I can now but watch the waves / Beating against the Waka’ura shore / As it recedes into the distance. (trans. SG) 

………………..  plum blossoms long gone,
………………..  but two black butterflies
………………… vie above Tenmangū –
………………… Michizane’s spirit soaring?
…………………………………………..Richard Donovan 

We head west, following the coastline,  past near-deserted docks, around a pristine cove of clear water, through a booming tunnel, past a beach crowded with locals enjoying their Sunday barbecues … all the time, haunted by the district’s strange green stone.

toward the sand bar
kissing rocks form an arch –
Wakanoura
…………………………..Akira Kibi

…………………………………. Deserted hotels
…………………………………. In green vines –
…………………………………. The sound of waves
……………………………………………………Mayumi Kawaharada

All too soon it is time for the daytrippers amongst us to catch their return bus. Those who remain press on for 番所庭園 Bandoko Gardens, a ‘nose’ (番所の鼻) of lush green sticking out into the Pacific Ocean. 

………………………………………………….. Finding the open quiet
………………………………………………….. At the end of today’s trail –
………………………………………………….. My friend’s deep sigh.
…………………………………………………………………………………….Tito 

Flanked by four islets, the tiny peninsula is an oasis of calm, a world apart from the busy industrial portland coming into view away to the north.

…. Across the Bay of Saika
…. candy-striped towers
…. belching smoggy floss
…………………….Michael Lambe

………………………………………………….. fishing-boat rumble fades …
………………………………………………….. again, the softly breaking waves
………………………………………………….. at Bandoko Cliffs
…………………………………………………………………………………Richard Donovan

Checking in at Manpa Hotel, the first rain begins to fall. What weather will the day of the eclipse bring us, we wonder. Haiku written during the day are later shared, grinned and beared.

The 21st dawns fine, with but a few small veils of light cloud, soon melting off. We move to our various stations, sun-viewing sheets in hand. Two of the remaining party climb a nearby hill;  others mount a giant rock at the seashore.

By 7:30 am, the moon is upon us, the light on the sea now an amber early evening cast. 

………………………………………………….. Eclipse
………………………………………………….. Through new cherry leaves …
………………………………………………….. My scimitared shirt.
…………………………………………………………………………..Tito

a golden carp leaps out
just to see it …
eclipse of the sun
……………………Jiko

4 Responses to “Wakanoura Ginkō 和歌浦吟行 & Annular Eclipse 金環日食観察”

  1. Michael Lambe’s haiku relates, I feel, to the famous C8th waka (tanka) by Fujiwara Maro:

    紀伊国の雑賀の浦に出で見れば 海人の燈火波の間ゆ見ゆ
    Coming to the bay of Saika / In the province of Kii / I see the fires of the fisherfolk / Flashing on and off / Between the waves

    The scene is somewhat different today. Nice literary allusion, Michael!

  2. Yes, Stephen, that was in my mind at the time, though I confess I was unfamiliar with the poem until I saw it on the Bandoko gardens’ brochure! As for the smoking towers, coming from the industrial north-east of England I have a natural affinity for them!

  3. I enjoyed reading this record of your ginko to Wakanorua. You have covered a lot. I visited Wakanoura years ago, but my visit was short. I had to satisfy myself with Imoseyama and the bridges nearby. I went to Kimiidera, though, where Basho wrote the following poem:
    行く春にわかの浦にて追付たり
    Abreast I am at last
    With the fleeting spring
    Here in the open bay
    Of Wakanoura
    The temple is stuated high on a hill, and I enjyoed a wide vista of the bay from there. There was also a statue of Basho on a sllope leading up to the temple. I like Basho’s poem because it captures the warm climate of the place very well. Spring seems to come earlier than anywhere elase, and stay longest there. (Nobuyuki Yuasa)

    • Thank you for reminding us of Basho. On the day itself, I did read aloud the Basho haiku (in your translation), alongside a Buson Chinese-style poem about Wakanoura rocks and an Issa one about cranes landing on a Wakanoura rubbish heap (ribbing the Akahito waka)!
      Michael, Kazue and I went to see Kii-Miidera after the eclipse the following morning. It was almost deserted, but we too enjoyed the view. We missed the Basho statue, though, I have to admit!

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