My Trip to the North: 4. Lake Usori & the Land of Bliss

Emerging from the region of the Hells, I now came to the beautiful shore of Lake Usori, a large crater lake surrounded by steep mountains, with names such as Mt. Screen and Mt. Overturned Cauldron. The shoreline was one of white sand. They call it Gokurakuhama, the shore of the Land of Bliss. I was told that the name of the lake had derived from the Ainu word meaning ‘peaceful bay’, and that ‘Usori’ had turned into ‘Osore’. I thought this was a very ironic corruption, for ‘Osore’ means ‘fear’. The lake should not be thought of as a perfect paradise, however, for its water is acidic and only a single species of fish can live there. Just looking at it, though, the lake was surely beautiful enough for a gateway to the Land of Bliss.

……… The wind from the hills
……… Carried away from my nose
……… That smell of sulphur.

…………………….. Beyond the white shore,
…………………….. A belt of emerald green
…………………….. Lit by summer sun.

3 Responses to “My Trip to the North: 4. Lake Usori & the Land of Bliss”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for highlighting the fascinating shift from Usori to Osore. I would have paid more attention to the lake, had I known that – ‘a gateway to the Land of Bliss’. Looking at your haiku, I was wondering why the necessity for ‘from my nose’ in the second line, then I got it: both poems are perfect exemplars of 5-7-5.

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  2. After all of the volcanic and metaphysical hells we’ve gone through in Nobuyuki’s memorable four-part haibun, I found delight in the shift into past tense in the first of the two final haiku. Very effective. Then, moving to the last haiku, we begin to feel as if we might indeed have made it to the Pure Land. To finish the piece in this way, open-endedly, with poetry: how wonderful is haibun!

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