Tomonoura

In this most unhurried, most forsaken of villages where not a single shop seems worthy of the term, where a ferry timetable hangs redundant, we are trying to locate a Basho kuhi. When at long last we bump into a local fisherman, and ask about Matsuo Basho, he looks dismayed: ‘There’s nobody by that name around here.’ Must rely on instinct. An hour later you spy a flight of stairs leading up a verdant hill. To reach the shrine on top one must tiptoe through a minefield of dozing cats in front of a grey torii.

Octopus traps…

Fleeting dreams

Under summer’s moon

                           Basho

The octopus is said to be one of the most intelligent creatures of the sea, able to figure its way out of all kinds of mazes, puzzles and traps. Long ago, however, the Japanese figured out the invertebrate’s love of hiding in small spaces and devised a deceptively simple contraption for catching them: a baited cylindrical clay pot lined with a mesh net and a trap door. These takotsubo (蛸壺, octopus pots) can be found piled and stacked up against seawalls in towns and villages along the Seto Inland Sea, where octopus is part of the daily diet.

Looking for one thing

finding another

octopus traps

Late Summer, 2015

kuhi – a haiku stone on which a poem is engraved

6 responses to “Tomonoura

  1. How often do we go in one end of an experience expecting one thing and come out the other having encountered something else — or indeed, as if caught in an octopus trap, finding ourselves lingering in some situation longer than we might have anticipated, ensnared against our better judgement?

    A fine haibun, Branko. Somehow cats and octopi chime as subjects — round, soft-skinned, languid, shrewd octo-pussy?

    • Thanks for this, Madhuri. I know exactly what you mean. Branko does, too (“one of the most intelligent creatures of the sea”). Personally, I always try to avoid eating them. In the light of your comment, Branko’s haiku at the end is almost sinister. If one imagines not the poet himself but the octopus as the subject of the haiku which gets involved with a baited octopus pot… Arrgghhhh! Poor octopi! Anyone for squid?

      • Thank you 🙏🏽 Tito for your response, I wasn’t expecting any 😊. Think I will pass the squid, years ago I chose to be a vegan. Thank you, once again Tito 😊

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