Friday, November 23, 2007

Izumozaki: Basho and Ryokan

O'er wild ocean spray,
All the way to Sado Isle
Spreads the Milky Way

Thus reads Dorothy Britton's translation of the haiku Basho wrote from Izumozaki.

During much of August,1689, Basho and traveling companion Sora followed the Sea of Japan coast through Echigo Province, as Niigata was then known, at that point two-thirds of the way through the walking tour that would become known as the Narrow Road to the Interior. Niigata was hot and inhospitable, and as they hurried along the two had little time for poetry. Niigata City, Yahiko, Izumozaki- 70k in 3 days. According to Sora's journal, the two spent the night in Izumozaki at the Ozaki Inn, located across the street from the present-day Basho Memorial Park (see two photos at top). The inn is long since gone, but a white marker on the current occupant of the site indicates the Ozaki's former location and offers information about Basho's visit.
Celebrated calligraphist, poet, and Zen priest Ryokan-sama was born in Izumozaki and spent much of his life in the area. The third and fourth photos commemorate the town's most famous native son.

No comments: