March 22, 2011

Haiga 550 Sendai--then and now



Haiku by Matsuo Basho. Artwork by Kuniharu Shimizu.
Here is a passage on Sendai and vicinity in the "Narrow Road to the Deep North"
[Sendai] We crossed the river Natori and went into Sendai. It was the day when people hang blue irises beneath the eaves. We found an inn where we stayed for four or five days.
In the town, there was a painter called Kaemon. I had heard he was a man of truly artistic taste, and I got to know him. He told me he had spent several years tracing places mentioned in poetry that had become hard to locate; and one day, he took us to see some of them. The fields of Miyagino were thick with bush clover, and I could imagine the sight in autumn. It was the season when the pieris flowered around Tamada, Yokono and Tsutsuji-ga-oka. We walked through a pine forest so thick that sunlight could not penetrate at all, and were told its name, Konoshita [Under-the-Trees]. The dripping dew must have been heavy there even in ancient times, for in one poem, a servant is asked to tell his lord to take an straw hat. We offered prayers at Yakushidō Shrine and the Shrine at Tenjin before the day drew to a close. As parting gifts, Kaemon presented us with sketches of Matsushima and Shiogama and various other local places. He also gave us two pairs of straw sandals, with straps deep iris-blue. These presents showed how much a man of cultivated taste he was:

I will bind iris
blossoms round about my feet –
straps for my sandals
The photo below is the area around Natori River. The Sendai Airport situates near by. This area is considerably flat and was a good farming land. The earthquake, however, lowered the entire area by about 70cm (about 2.5ft), and then tsunami rushed in and sea water remained there. As the tsunami proceeeded, it engulfed oil tanks, cars with gasoline, so the sea water turned into the burning liquid, hence the fire here and there amid the expanse of water.

There is an news article about Natori:


Melissa Allen said...

This is a gorgeous haiga, and wonderful historic notes and information about current events. Thanks, Kuni-san.

Woodsong said...


May this and all the haiga you recently made bring solace to others in memory of the triple tragedy of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disaster. I appreciate your gift of heartfelt artistic and poetic talent true to the history of Japanese poetics.

Alan Summers said...

Horribly sad, but important post, thank you kuni_san.

Alan’s Area 17 blog


Kuni_san's weblink again:

There is an news article about Natori: weblink

kuni_san said...

Thank you all for nice comments. Much appreciated.
Alan san, thanks for the link.