Saturday, May 28, 2011





Yamabe no Akahito

When to Tago's coast
I the way have gone, and seen
Perfect whiteness laid

On Mount Fuji's lofty peak
By the drift of falling snow.


Remember climbing to
the lakes basin?
How, rounding

that last bend, we
were hammered down
by the glory of

summer snow —
Even the gray jays
alighting on our knees

to seek crumbs
could not long bend
our eyes away.


Here, Risa is remembering a hike with a much beloved friend to a place high in the wilderness. They were there several days, mostly sitting and watching the clouds' shadows drift across the face of the area's highest mountain. The photograph was taken on that journey, which was in the nineteen-eighties.

Yamabe no Akahito was one of Japan's Poetry Immortals, active around 725 CE. He was a member of the Emperor's court and wrote of his observations of scenes on their travels.

Hokusai's elderly observer does visualize the likely viewpoint from which Akihito took his view. But she focuses on the  toil of the laborers in the emperor's train, bringing along the voluminous belongings of those in Akihito's class.

This morning, Risa is thinking of Kurosawa's Dreams (1990), a set of seven depictions of actual dreams that had come to him. In one of them he depicts the demise of Japan as the result of the explosion of "the six nuclear reactors" -- this would be Fukushima Daiichi. She feels that there is little she can do to help this situation -- perhaps if there will eventually be an exodus that even includes the "common people," prepare a bedroom for someone? Until then, she will study Zen and serve green tea.