Basho’s stay in Kisakata, Akita (Part 3)
According to『おくのほそ道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ ‘ translated by Donald Keene, 松尾芭蕉( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) arrived at Kisakata on the evening of August 1, 1689, when a misty rain started to fall, obscuring Chokai Mountain.
The next morning the weather cleared beautifully. When the morning sun rose in all its splendor, Basho and his party took a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata. They put in first 能因島 (Nohin jima), Nohin Island, where they called at the remains of the hut in which 能因(Nohin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.
After that, Basho and his party left for the opposite shore, where they landed from their boat, and they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hoshi)(1118-1190), Saigyo .
Then they called at the temple standing nearby. In those days it was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which is now called 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple.
Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, Basho rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water. To the west, one can see as far as Muyamuya Barrier; to the east, the road over the embankment leads to Akita in the distance. The sea is to the north. The place where the waves of the sea breaks into the lagoon is called Tide-Crossing（汐越）(Shio-goshi). Kisakata is about two miles in either direction.
What did Basho and his companion Sora(曾良) enjoy?
Judging from some haiku written in『おくのほそ道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ ‘ I suppose they enjoyed going by boat on the lagoon around there after visiting the temple that afternoon.
First of all they went to the place called ‘Tide-Crossing’ （汐越）(Shio-goshi) and enjoyed soaking their legs into the waters.
Basho’s haiku is this:
Shiogoshi ya tsuru hagi nurete umi suzushi
The crane’s long legs are wetted
How cool the sea is!
Translated by Donald Keene
I’d like to add my note here:
‘鶴はぎ’ (tsuruhagi) means that ‘衣の丈が短くて、脛が長くあらわれていること’
, which is that ‘the length of a robe is short, and the long legs of a person who wears it is seen’ . Basho’s legs appeared as if they were the legs of a crane. That is because the Kanji characters ‘鶴‘ means ‘crane’ and ‘脛（はぎ）‘ means ‘shin or leg’.
The following notice in the picture is posted now at the place called ‘Tide-Crossing’ （汐越）(Shio-goshi) . It says that Basho used the name of ‘越長’ (Koshi-naga), not ‘汐越’ (Shio-goshi) in his first version of his haiku.
Basho and Sora also enjoyed boat-riding on the lagoon from island to island, having a nice view.of each island.
Sora wrote his haiku:
nami koenu chigiri arite ya misago no su
Did they vow never
To part till waves topped their rock?
The nest of the ospreys.
In memory of Basho’s stay
A basho tree was planted and is now growing in the garden of 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple in memory of Basho’s visit to Kisakata.
Donald Keene referred to a basho tree in the preface of 『おくのほそ道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ ‘ as follows:
Like most other writers, artists, and even philosophers of the time, Basho was known by various names during the course of his life. The one by which he is best known, Basho, was derived from a tree in his garden: in 1681, when he moved to a bleak area of the city Edo, he planted a basho tree in order to improve the appearance of the garden. The basho, a variety of banana tree that bears no fruit, had a special meaning for poets: its broad green leaves are easily torn by the wind, a ready symbol for the sensitivity of the poet. Visitors began to refer to the place as the Basho-an (Cottage of the Basho tree), and before long Basho was using the name by himself.
Last of all I wrote my haiku for a basho tree in the garden of the temple.
Basho no ki towa ni ari si ya nebu no hana
The basho tree
staying for good―
the mimosa blossoms
This is the end of the title ‘Basho’s stay in Kisakata, Akita’.
― Hidenori Hiruta