Persimmons – part 7

. I should like to end my haibun with a paragraph or two on kakishibu (persimmon varnish). I do not know exactly how it is made, but suppose it must be by condensing and fermenting persimmon juice. It is used mainly as a coating for traditional Japanese paper, thereby not only strengthening it but also making it waterproof. Thus a raincoat called kamiko came to be made, first for the priests of the Risshu sect to wear, but later for warriors and travellers as well. It was both light and warm. It was one of these raincoats that Basho took on his journey to the North. Persimmon varnish is also used to coat paper umbrellas. Seeing pictures of them on the Internet recently, I was surprised by the variety of designs. The traditional colour was brown, but now they seem to come in bright colours like red and green and make good decorations for restaurants and hotels.

. I have fond memories of persimmon-varnished fans. They were always sturdy ones and kept me very cool. I always used to pick out a fan of this type from the bamboo case in which we kept our fans at home. Nowadays, the Internet shows fans of this kind in many different colours, but mine was dark brown. I prefer this traditional colour. When summer comes again, I will probably buy a new one.

Let me take a nap,
Using a fan coated with
Persimmon varnish.

this instalment concludes Nobuyuki Yuasa’s haibun 

3 responses to “Persimmons – part 7

  1. Thank you so much, Nobuyuki, for this wonderful series on persimmons. I was at Rakushisha today with a cousin from Cumbria. I told her the story of the ruined crop of persimmons and read to her the final haiku of Basho’s Diary about the poem-cards leaving behind their dry marks on the damp wall. She loved it all. We spied a large jumping spider running about on Kyorai’s desk!

  2. Thanks Nobuyuki. I enjoy how this series, and your other haibun topics, transports me back to bits of Japanese history and customs, as well as include passages of sensory details to allow me to participate. As you fan yourself, I can smell the subtle aroma of persimmon.

  3. It’s delightful to think that persimmons can be used in waterproofing! It is time for us to turn back to the natural world to help us find solutions to the scourge of plastic and environmentally persistent chemicals, and I think persimmons (and mushrooms) can help….

    Thank you, Nobuyuki, for an inspiring series.