May 27, 1689
By Matsuo Basho’s reckoning, it was the 9th day of the 4th lunar month (Shigatsu). He and Sora were visiting Joboji, the overseer of the Castle of Kurobane, in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Edo. His younger brother Tosui came over and took them to his home to visit his family.
So the days passed…. One day we went for a walk in the outskirts [of Kurobane] to where the ancient archers practiced the art of Inuoumono (犬追物, mounted archers shooting at dogs), then past a bamboo grove to the tomb of Lady Tamamo (玉藻前, the fox spirit who caused chaos and corrupted emperors); we then paid our respects at the Hachiman Shrine (dedicated to the divinity of archery and war), where Yoichi, the samurai archer, prayed before he was challenged to shoot a flag fluttering over a drifting boat. As darkness fell, we came home.
On the mountain is a temple called Komyo with a hall dedicated to En no Gyoja (the founder of Shugendo, Buddhist/Shinto ascetics who believe in two realms of existence).
夏山に足駄を拝む首途哉Matsuo Basho, Oku no Hosomichi, May 1689
natsuyama ni ashida o ogamau kadode kana
in the summer mountains
we worshiped in rain clogs
May 28, 2022
Memorial Day is celebrated in America on the last Monday in May. Ostensibly, it is about those who have given their lives serving in the military, but it has come to mean much more. It is about memories, of loved ones and long ago places, of near ones and dear ones, of happy times and sad times, of the good life we’ve shared.
“What is a witness if not someone who has a tale to tell and lives only with one haunting desire: to tell it. Without memory, … there is no culture, no civilization, no society, no future.”Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor