Yesterday, was it? Someone said to me – the rainy season’s begun. Today, many of us here in Japan found out that, yes, it certainly had! Heavy downpourings, low, low cloud and, interspersed, a rain so light as not to be rain at all: vagrant p a r t i c l e s of water, each one with a minute, barely palpable prick for the cheek or the forearm exposed.
Looking back across Kawai Kanjiro’s patio garden from the potter’s sheds on its far side, against the black of the old Kyoto eaves, today I saw it clearly – konuka-ame, 小糠雨 rice-bran rain. When I mentioned it to a Hailstone friend, she said it might be soba-flour. The way the Japanese have evolved names for the finest categories of precipitation! Once, I made a radio programme entitled simply, RAIN. It covered many of these categories and most were illustrated with a haiku. Perhaps someone can leave a rice-bran rain haiku as a comment to this, which I could later incorporate, … but I confess I failed myself to write one. It was a dreamy day.
How then, to end? I vividly recall a renga session I once held in a Nepalese farmhouse on a miserable afternoon in ’72 with two British friends, Jon and Mick, with whom I was trekking through the Himalayas. The last verse from that will have to do:
… The day erased
… by hand unseen;
… light rain washes
… the paper clean.