shirobusuma 白襖

sliding white doors,
in color


shirobusuma shimete gokusaishiki no yume

Iro no yume 色の夢 Dreams of color

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) was quite the dreamer, explaining in The Tempest that towers, palaces, temples, even the globe itself shall dissolve for:

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Isaac Newton (1642-1726) was more serious, explaining in a series of scientific papers that white light refracts in a prism, devolving it into a richly colored rainbow of light. Meanwhile, in Japan, Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694) simply said that by closing the sliding white doors in his home he was colorfully dreaming. Gokusaishiki, which Basho uses can be translated as “richly colored,” “extremely colorful” or “colorfully” dreaming. This was a back door way (pun intended) of introducing the seasonal word, as Shiki (四季) means Four Seasons.

Dreams (yume, 夢) were a major theme of Basho’s haikus. There were butterfly dreams, soldiers’ dreams that lay within the grass, good luck dreams of snow on Mt. Fuji, and of course, dreams of life and death, and somewhere in between.

Bashō no yōna

In her well-written blog, Gabi Greve explains that the sliding doors of a Japanese house are newly papered in winter to keep the room warm. Sigmund Freud would have looked at the closing of the door as a transition from reality to wish fulfillment. A Buddhist, a change in state, one of purity to a colorful existence in the after life.

Finally, Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote (1605) said, “When one door closes, another opens.” A fitting way to end this post. Now, to sleep, perchance to dream in color.

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