The Last of My Wandering Journeys: Part I – The Toné River

.. We had a lot of rain this summer. When autumn came, I was seized with a burning desire to go on a wandering journey. Already eighty-six, with weakening legs, I knew it was going to be the last of my journeys. From the very outset, however, I fully enjoyed this journey, for I had to plan it rather carefully. Wanting to go to remote places I had not seen before, I chose Lake Okutadami in Niigata Prefecture, Ozemiike Pond in Fukushima Prefecture, and Ryuoukyo Gorge and Kinugawa Spa in Tochigi Prefecture. I found out that it would be possible to visit all these places in three days by using local trains and country buses. Timing would be a bit tricky, though, as two typhoons were in the offing! Once the first one had passed, I decided to leave immediately, for there would surely be at least two fine days, perhaps three, before the next typhoon arrived. I had to hurry, though, because one of the buses I wanted to use would stop its service in less than ten days.
………. The typhoon gone by,
………. I watched my dreams revolving
………. Round my little room.
.. So, at Takasaki Station, I got on a local train on the Joetsu Line. Unfortunately, it was one of those rather uncomfortable commuter trains. The main attraction of this line was a long tunnel that lies on the border of Gunma and Niigata Prefectures and I had been wanting to travel through this for the first time in my life. With Takasaki soon behind me, I enjoyed the changing views of Mt. Haruna from the train window. I live at the foot of this mountain, but what I saw from the train window was an entirely different shape. Mt. Haruna has multiple peaks, so that as we move in relation to it, we never see the same mountain form.
.. Soon after the train left Shibukawa Station, I had a spectacular view of the River Toné. As its nickname Bando Taro (First Son of the East Country) indicates, it is one of the largest rivers in Japan. When it came into view, it was near flood level after the typhoon and was collecting the water of a major branch, too, thus almost doubling its size. T. S. Eliot once called the Mississippi “a brown god”. The River Toné was an angry brown god that day.
………. Trees and grasses bow
………. As an angry god cavorts
………. Headlong through the vale.
.. I continued to feel anxious, as I knew the train service could well be suspended before I had finished my journey. My experience told me, though, that the headwaters of the river might already be abating in this fine weather. And, sure enough, the River Toné became less and less brown as I travelled north.

To be continued …

7 responses to “The Last of My Wandering Journeys: Part I – The Toné River

  1. This is the first part of a long haibun, from which we have made installments. Future parts should appear here at the rate of approximately one per month for the rest of the year. Anyway, this is the plan. I visited Nobuyuki (Sosui) in his Haruna home recently and was pleased to find his mind as sharp as ever, although, as the title implies, his physical condition does not allow for much strenuous travel nowadays. This is thus an important piece, and the editors are very grateful to him for agreeing to its publication here.

  2. What a treasure.. especially ” Mt Haruna has multiple peaks, so as we move in relation to it, we never see the same form..”.being surprised by another perspective at 86 is inspiring!

  3. Pingback: The Last of My Wandering Journeys: Part I – The Toné River | Icebox | word pond

  4. There is poignancy in reading Sosui’s words “the last of my wandering journeys”, but there is cheer, and unfailing insight, to be gained in reading on. A masterclass in haibun — thank you.