contemplating a sunset with… the sarashina diary

80th day…

Excerpt from The Sarashina Diary, “Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan

“There is a mountain called Ashigara [Hakoné] which extends for ten and more miles and is covered with thick woods even to its base. We could have only an occasional glimpse of the sky. We lodged in a hut at the foot of the mountain. It was a dark moonless night. I felt myself swallowed up and lost in the darkness, when three singers came from somewhere. One was about fifty years old, the second twenty, and the third about fourteen or fifteen. We set them down in front of our lodging and a karakasa [large paper umbrella] was spread for them. My servant lighted a fire so that we saw them. They said that they were the descendants of a famous singer called Kobata. They had very long hair which hung over their foreheads; their faces were white and clean, and they seemed rather like maids serving in noblemen’s families. They had clear, sweet voices, and their beautiful singing seemed to reach the heavens. All were charmed, and taking great interest made them come nearer. Some one said, ‘The singers of the Western Provinces are inferior to them,’ and at this the singers closed their song with the words, ‘if we are compared with those of Naniwa’ [Osaka]. * They were pretty and neatly dressed, with voices of rare beauty, and they were wandering away into this fearful mountain. Even tears came to those eyes which followed them as far as they could be seen; and my childish heart was unwilling to leave this rude shelter frequented by these singers.

“Next morning we crossed over the mountain.** Words cannot express my fear*** in the midst of it. Clouds rolled beneath our feet. Halfway over there was an open space with a few trees. Here we saw a few leaves of aoi**** [Asarum caulescens ]. People praised it and thought strange that in this mountain, so far from the human world, was growing such a sacred plant. We met with three rivers in the mountain and crossed them with difficulty. That day we stopped at Sekiyama. Now we are in Suruga Province. We passed a place called Iwatsubo [rock-urn] by the barrier of Yokobashiri. There was an indescribably large square rock through a hole in which very cold water came rushing out.”

“Mount Fuji is in this Province. …”

skyscape photograph created with Nikon D750 f/8 1/500s 200mm 400 ISO and edited in Capture One 20 and Photoshop

Footnotes:

*This seems to be the last line of a kind of song called Imayo, perhaps improvised by the singers; its meaning may be as follows: “You compare us with singers of the Western Provinces; we are inferior to those in the Royal City; we may justly be compared with those in Osaka.”

**Hakoné Mountain has now become a resort of tourists and a place of summer residence.

***Fear of evil spirits which probably lived in the wild, and of robbers who certainly did.

**** Aoi, or Futaba-aoi. At the great festival of the Kamo shrine in Kioto the processionists crowned their heads with the leaves of this plant, so it must have been well known.

lens-artists photo challenge: at home

Solitary … day 46

Within our home, the setting sun…a time of gratitude and metta meditation

setting sun
wind chime

My people went to live elsewhere and I remained alone in my solitary home. I was tired of meditation and sent a poem to one who had not called on me for a long time.

Weeds grow before my gate 
And my sleeves are wet with dew, 
No one calls on me, 
My tears are solitary–alas!

She was a nun and she sent an answer:

The weeds before a dwelling house 
 May remind you of me! 
Bushes bury the hut 
Where lives the world-deserted one.

The Sarashina Diary, Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan
silhouette
may all sentient beings slumber in peace

Amy (The World is a Book…) writes that because of “the lockdown, we are spending more time at home. But, hopefully this isn’t limiting our interest in photographing. This week, we invite you to share photos taken at home.”

above images created with a Nikon D750

setting sun: f/7.1 1/1250s 65mm 400 ISO

wind chime: f/5.6 1/15s 125mm 400 ISO

silhouette: f/5.6 1/3200 230mm 400 ISO

may all sentient beings slumber in peace: f/8 1/20s 25mm 400 ISO

no one calls …

Stay at Home Order … day 2 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

Weeds grow before my gate 
And my sleeves are wet with dew, 
No one calls on me, 
My tears are solitary–alas!

The Sarashina Diary (AD 1009-1059)

Cited: Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/3200 35mm 200ISO

“There should have been roses
Of the large, pale yellow ones.
And they should hang in abundant clusters over the garden-wall, scattering their tender leaves carelessly down into the wagon-tracks on the road: a distinguished glimmer of all the exuberant wealth of flowers within.
And they should have the delicate, fleeting fragrance of roses, which cannot be seized and is like that of unknown fruits of which the senses tell legends in their dreams.
Or should they have been red, the roses?
Perhaps.
They might be of the small, round, hardy roses, and they would have to hang down in slender twining branches with smooth leaves, red and fresh, and like a salutation or a kiss thrown to the wanderer, who is walking, tired and dusty, in the middle of the road, glad that he now is only half a mile from Rome.
Of what may he be thinking? What may be his life?”

Cited: Project Gutenberg’s Mogens and Other Stories, by Jens Peter Jacobsen

the dead of the night, moon-gazing

In the dead of night, moon-gazing,

The thought of the deep mountain affrighted,

Yet longings for the mountain village

At all other moments filled my heart.

~The Sarashina Diary (Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan)

Image and poem submitted in response to Travel with Intent’s Six Word Saturday challenge.

i yearn for a tranquil moment

I yearn for a tranquil moment
To be out upon the sea of harmony,
In that enchanted boat.
Oh, boatman, do you know my heart?

~The Sarashina Diary (Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan)

A small section of the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon coastline (2010) and a poem from The Sarashina Diary submitted in response to Travel with Intent’s six word challenge.

remembrance of her…

“For remembrance of her I wanted to write about her,”… but I stopped short with the words, “Ink seems to have frozen up, I cannot write any more.” *

How shall I gather memories of my sister?

The stream of letters is congealed. 

No comfort may be found in icicles 

  ~The Sarashina Diary (Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan)

Nikon D750 f/4.5 1/400 58mm

*The continuous writing of the cursive Japanese characters is often compared to a meandering river. “Ink seems to have frozen up” means that her eyes are dim with tears, and no more she can write continuously and flowingly.