The Sound of Water (IV): Lake Biwa (2)
. There are two more places at Lake Biwa that I should mention: Genjuan, the cottage where Basho, in 1690, spent what seems to be the happiest time of his life and wrote his famous haibun, and Mumyouan, the cottage at Gichuji Temple where he stayed several times between 1690 and 1694 and beside which he has his grave. These two places are fairly close together on the southeast side of the Lake.
. Genjuan Cottage is on a hill overlooking the water. Unfortunately, the present cottage is a modern reconstruction, but the well from which Basho drew water is still alive. Here he wrote the following poem:
.. For my first prop
.. I have found this pasania tree
.. In a summer grove.
At one time, a poet friend of mine invited me to read my translation of Basho’s haibun at this cottage. At first I was tense, as I could not help feeling that Basho was also listening, but a cool wind from the Lake soothed me as it had Basho centuries before.
. Gichuji Temple is closer to the Lake, and in Basho’s time, lake water used to come right up to its gate. This temple takes its name from Kiso Yoshinaka (1154~1184), an unfortunate warrior of the Genji clan who met an untimely death at Awazu and was buried in this temple nearby. Basho had a special attachment to him and asked his followers to make his grave on the same site. Now he sleeps under a small slab of stone right next to Kiso Yoshinaka. Here, another year, my poet friend invited me to lead a renku session. I bowed reverently to Basho’s grave before I undertook the difficult task.
.. All of a sudden
.. The reeds sway and water shakes —
.. Carp’s spawning time.