Kyoto Journal Issue 14
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The Photography of Sudo Masato
The Japanese Art of CM
Capitalism Triumphant? The Evidence from Japan
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The moon and sun are travelers through eternity. Even the years wander on. Whether drifting through life on a boat or climbing toward old age leading a horse, each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
—Basho (1644-1694), Oku no hosomichi
Basho rose long before dawn, but even at such an early hour, he knew the day would grow rosy bright. It was spring, 1689. In Ueno and Yanaka, cherry trees were in full blossom, and hundreds of families would soon be strolling under their branches, lovers walking and speaking softly or not at all. But it wasn’t cherry blossoms that occupied his mind. He had long dreamed of crossing the Shirakawa Barrier into the heart of northern Honshu, the country called Oku lying immediately to the north of the city of Sendai. He had patched his old cotton trousers and repaired his straw hat. He had placed his old thatched-roof hut in another’s care and moved several hundred feet down the road to the home of his disciple-patron, Mr. Sampu, making final preparations before embarkation.
Basho himself would leave behind a number of gifts upon his death some five years later, among them a journal composed after this journey, his health again in decline, a journal made up in part of fiction or fancy. But during the spring and summer of 1689, he walked and watched. And from early 1690 into 1694, Basho wrote and revised his “travel diary,” Oku no hosomichi, which is not a diary at all. Oku means “within” and “farthest” or “dead-end” place; hosomichi means “path” or “narrow road.” The no indicates a possessive. Oku no hosomichi: the narrow road within; the narrow way through the interior. Basho draws Oku from the place of that name located between Miyagino and Matsushima, but it is a name which inspires plurisignation.— Sam Hamill, Basho’s Ghost
The Evidence from No. 1 (Japan) –
Cover Image: JAL Okinawa TV commercial with Kome Kome Club
published April 20, 1990