Persimmons – part 1

. I have a persimmon tree in front of my room. This year, it has produced a rich harvest. In fact, like many other fruit trees, it bears a lot of fruit every other year. However, the persimmons this tree produces are very small, less than the size of ping-pong balls. I believe this tree was here long before the garden was made, and that it belongs to the species called Yamagaki (Mountain Persimmon). Its fruits are probably very sour and nobody cares for them, but as autumn deepens, their colour also deepens, till birds come and peck at them. This is the tree’s only use, but when I see it growing in the shadow of a big cherry, doing its best to survive, I cannot help cheering it on.
………………  Time for persimmons
………………  To mature and redden —
………………  The sky is so blue.
. I have been close to persimmons since my childhood. We had a persimmon tree in our garden when I was at primary school. My father fastened sturdy ropes around one of its branches and made a swing for me. I was very proud of it and happily swung back and forth on it, but one day the branch broke off without warning and threw both the swing and me to the ground. Fortunately, I landed on a soft lawn, so I escaped with only scratches to my knees. This experience taught me, though, that persimmon trees were easily broken, and since then I have made it a rule not to climb them.
. During our wartime evacuation, I enjoyed sweet persimmons. The earliest kind we had was called Bongineri (Bon-Festival Sweet Persimmon). Its fruits were small and had lots of stones, but their flesh, strewn with black flecks resembling sesame seeds, was delicious. Later in autumn I would enjoy large persimmons that had been sweetened in rice chests — so big and sweet that I found them satisfying in every sense. Occasionally I enjoyed the special variety called Saijogaki (Saijo Persimmons), which I thought to be a real treasure.
………………  The sweet persimmons
………………  With dots like sesame seeds —
………………  Everyone eats laughing.

………………  Sweetened persimmons
………………  Melt on our tongues, so slow to
………………  Reach our stomachs.

(to be continued)

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4 Responses to “Persimmons – part 1”

  1. It is interesting to find that Nobuyuki Yuasa (Sosui) has been writing a long haibun on the subject of persimmons at the very same time as Hailstone has been publishing its latest collection (see 4 posts below this) under the title ‘Persimmon’. If his work had emerged a few months earlier, perhaps we could have included a part of it in the book! Anyway, here is the first part. There are, I believe, a further six, which Sosui will no doubt post during the following months. What a pleasure!

  2. Ursula Maierl Says:

    As a persimmon lover myself, appreciating both their taste and beauty, I find the golden-orange fruit a highly evocative, poetic subject . This haibun charms me as personal history. I enjoy the opening line placing us in the present, then winding back through childhood against a wider background of social history (evacuation) and custom (Bon-Festival), briefly mentioned.The names of varieties of persimmon are mouthwatering (or mouth-puckering in the case of the Yamagaki) and the knowledge educative, while reflecting fond intimacy with this luscious fruit. A delicious pleasure!

  3. Ursula Maierl Says:

    … and loved the detail of the large persimmons being sweetened in rice chests. I have been searching for information about this, but have found none – I am intrigued to learn more.

  4. The last sentence of the first paragraph ” This is the tree’s only use …. I cannot help cheering it on.”  made me think of the ordeal of Issa’s chestnut tree, and how he presented this ordeal as a metaphor for his personal struggles.

    The rhythm of the final poem is quite nice. I think the two pauses in line two are effective in relaying the sensation of savoring a sweetened persimmon (from tongue to stomach).  

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