總瀏覽量

2015年6月19日 星期五

Yanagawa (柳川)


After the stunning spectacle of thousands of roses at Huis Ten Bosch and the fantastic meal there, we were taken to a quiet little town of slightly more than 70,000 in Fukuoka Prefecture called Yanagawa (柳 川市), formed by merging Yamato and Mitsuhashi (both from Yamato District). The city is famous for two things: it's the place of birth of a famous prolific modern Japanese poet and children's song writer Kitahara Hakushu (北原 白秋 ) (1885 – 1942), originally called Kitahara Ryūkichi (北原 隆吉), one of the top 5 Japanese tanka (短歌 or short poem) poets writing in Taishō (大正時代 )(1912-1926) and Shōwa (昭和時代 ) (1926-1989) periods and widely accepted as one of the most popular and important poets in modern Japanese literature, having more than 200 publications under his own name. The city is criss-crossed with nearly 500 km of wide canals. It's really pleasant to feel that sense of leisure and serenity as our small boat glided smoothly along a stretch of one of their canals by one of the 200 professional "punters" pushing their pole proudly and apparently effortlessly in his impeccably clean kimono.


The Japanese May holidays over, the boats lay empty



The sides of the canal are covered with plants, potted or lining the banks.


An old tree arching over the waterway.




a rack for well-wishing charms



The air was fresh, the water calm.

 
A small private pier for the local residents



A modern metal bridge spanning the motor road.




An old fashioned wooden water wheel. For decoration only?




Floating restaurants.




Not too many, just three or four




Another pier and more idle boats




A fallen bamboo

 

A  small pavilion with a plague.




Nothing but the sound of the punter pushing our boat.




Weeping willows, giving the place its name.


 
Old wooden bollards




Flowers overhead



A low bridge we passed



Its side covered by a carpet of green


Looking back




The canal seems completely covered over by greenery




Another stretch of calm waters


  
A monument to a child: one of the characters in Kitahara Hakushu's children's songs?


Another stone bridge




 A canal side sitting-out area with a carved poem.




We're not the only ones.




A really nice house by the side of the canal




They really know how to pick their site!




Spaces between two boats are not wasted.




A lone punter




Drinks for the thirsty

Silent reflections




How are you? We're hail from Taiwan!



Our punter


Our disembarkation point.




 No time for this local museum: just a quarter of an hour before our coach will pick us up.

A touch of tropics.



This is the vacation home of Lord Yanagawa who built a huge lake garden  behind his house, the Shohto Park in 1697, after the design of those of Matsushima (松島) Island, one of the three most famous scenic places in Japan. We're told that In winter, flocks of wild geese would rest there. Yanagawa was  started life in the mid-16th century when taken over by the Kamachi clan. Before then, it was a traditional farming village, with only irrigation canals. It was Tanaka Yoshimasa (田中 吉政 ) who enlarged the canals and built a castle in Yanagawa, which is still around.



Whilst waiting for our coach, we were told to while away the time looking around the The Yanagawa Municipal Folk Museum, mainly dedicated to preservation of Hakushu-sensei's works and memorabilias, selling local products there: all kinds of children's stuffed toys.
 .


There's a children activity centre nearby



A Yanagawa fish




One of the poems of Kitahara Hakushu (北原 白秋) in displayed there. In November each year, a 3-day festival is held in Yanagawa to celebrate him, complete with boat rides, poetry readings, fireworks and music  where by the firelight at night, fans of Kitahara read his various poems and passages to passersby. The festival would start at Hiyoshi Shinto Shrine  (日吉神社) in Shimohyaku Town. The house where he was born would also be the public. According to the Wikipedia,  Kitahara Hakushu came from a family of sake brewers, attended the English literature department of Waseda University (早稻田大學), left without graduating, being more interested in the Japanese poetry of Tōson Shimazaki (島崎 藤村), especially his Wakanashu (若菜集  or Collection of Young Herbs, 1897), which was written in the Shintaishi, (新代式 or New Style, format. Kitahara Hakushu made his poetic debut in 1902 at the age of 17 and continued to write and grow as a poet until his death in 1942 during the height of World War II. He wrote:

"How sad is

The road man must take.
The road to prison.
The pebbled road down which
a police wagon creaks."  

He quarreled with his father who wanted him to succeed to the family sake business instead of becoming a poet, was shocked by his brother's suicide and was arrested for having an affair with a married woman. The sensitivity to sense perceptions  learned in his youth in Yanagawa  and his memories of the place remained the most important characteristic of his poetry throughout his life.

He moved to Tokyo in 1904 and started writing poetry for various literary magazines and two years later joined the Shinshisha (新詩社 or New Poetry Association) at the invitation of Yosano Tekkan (與謝野鐵幹) , one of the most fearless poets in Japan at the time and published poems in its magazine Myōjō (明星 or Bright Star), something that brought him instant fame as a rising young poet. As the Japanese scholar Fukasawa says, Tekkan openly "criticized contemporary tanka poetry for being ineffectual and effeminate. He felt that the tanka was doomed to extinction unless younger poets of his generation wrote bolder, more forceful poems, poems which would speak to a wide audience on topics of universal importance. His call for a revolution in the tanka market marked the beginning of modern verse in this form".

Kitahara Hakushu
  also criticized the traditional genre, arguing that  "A colloquial tanka will not necessarily conform to the thirty-one syllables of a traditional tanka; the majority of colloquial tanka contain too many syllables. This is because modern language is not as concise as literary language, in essence making extra syllables inevitable. To force the language to conform to thirty-one syllables kills the rhythm. The form of a poem necessarily grows out of its content. Most contemporary poets of colloquial tanka ignore this and instead try to bend the colloquial language to fit into a traditional form. This is pure ignorance. Those who assert that modern tanka must be written in the colloquial but do not understand the importance of this fact seem to be racking their brains over a task which, contrary to their expectations, can only damage the colloquial language."


Hakusha did not limit himself to tanka and was accomplished in every genre of Japanese poetry including choka, (長歌) and shi (詩) modern style poetry) and haiku  (俳句)..

In 1907 he published the essays 5 Pairs of Shoes, together with Yosano Tekkan, Mokutaro Kinoshita (木下 杢太郎), Hirano Banri (平野萬里) and Yoshii Isamu (吉井 勇). He then formed his own literary group, the Pan no kai (The Society of Pan), including painters, musicians and actors as well as writers and in 1909, he became one of the founding members of the literary magazine, Subaru (The Pleiades), where he published his first collection of verses, Jashumon (Heretics), which took the poetic world by storm. Through the use of its rich imagery and innovative structure, it (along with Yosano Akiko's (与謝野 晶子) Midaregami(みだれ髪, “Tangled hair), is credited by critics with having set new standards for modern Japanese poetry.

Kitahara
's initial success was followed by Omoide (思ひ出 or Memories, 1912), in which he evokes memories of the world from a child's perspective.The following year, he published first tanka  (短句) anthology, Kiri no hana (桐の花 or Paulownia Blossoms), and in 1914, his Shinju Sho (珍珠選 or Selection of Pearls), and in 1915, his third anthology Hakkin no koma (白金面 or Platinum Top), which include one-line poems in the form of Buddhist prayers.

He strove for what he called “oriental simplicity”, a concept which he borrowed from his understanding of Zen in Suibokushu (Collection of Ink drawings, 1923) and Suzume no tamago (Sparrow's Eggs, 1921).

Tanka
is not new. Waka (和歌),  five lines (句 ) literally "phrases" in the form  5-7-5-7-7  syllabic units totalling 31 syllables, is also called Uta (倭歌), (to distinguish it from Chinese poetry or hanshi  (漢詩) before it became known as tanka, came to us from Japan originally via oral transmission, probably around the 6th or 7th century. It is the mother of all Japanese poetry. It already appeared in Kojiki (古事記 ) in the early 8th century.


In 1918, he joined the Akai Tori (紅鳥 or Red Bird) literary magazine at the request of founder Suzuki Miekichi, (鈴木 三重吉)  and was assigned to create children's songs, take charge of screening the poems submitted to the magazine, and collect nursery rhymes from around the country. The same year, he relocated from Tokyo to Odawara (小田原) in Kanagawa.

In 1919 he published Tonbo no medama (Dragonfly's Eyes), a collection of lyrics for children he had previously published serially in Akai Tori (紅鳥)

In 1921 Maza gusu (Mother Goose), a collection of his translations of the English classic, came out, and that year, Usagi no denpo (Rabbit Telegrams), a collection of his nursery rhymes, was published. Starting with its April 1922 issue, Kodomo no kuni (Children's Land), it invited readers to submit children's songs, and Kitahara took charge of the screening and comments. In 1929 he published a collection of essays on children's songs, Midori no shokkaku (緑の触角 orThe Feel of Green).

Kitahara loved travelling and visited all parts of Japan between 1923 to 1925, then  moved back to Tokyo in 1926 and continued to experiment with new styles but still influenced by  classical Japanese literature (such as the Kojiki 古事記) ), as seen in his Kaihyo no kumo (海與雲 Sea and Clouds, 1929).

In 1930, Kitahara travelled to Manchuria, and rode on the South Manchurian Railroad. On his return to Japan, he visited Nara and in 1935, he founded Tama, a tanka magazine, and became known as the spearhead of the fourth stage of the symbolist movement. He founded a large number of poetry groups, and ten poetry journals. He exerted a major influence not only on the poets of his time, but also on the next generation of modern poets, many who . . . began their careers under his tutelage."  Among his protégés were Kimata Osamu (木昊修)and Miya Shuji (宮柊二).

He also accepted an invitation by the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun (大阪每日新聞)to tour Korea (then under Japanese rule), in exchange for poems on his impressions. Kitahara remained active even after almost going blind due to complications arising from diabetes in 1937.

In 1940, he returned for a visit to Yanagawa after many years, and also visited Miyazaki ((宮崎) and Nara (奈良).  That same year he was made a member of the Japan Art Academy.

In 1942, his health condition worsened, and he died of complications from his diabetes. His grave is located at the Tama Reien (多磨霊園)  in the outskirts of Tokyo.

The special sake of the region




Yanagawa dolls



Yanagawa men




Yanagawa rabbits referred to in Kitahara Hakushu's children songs?




Yanagawa grandpa's



hanging decorations


Yangawaka folk folk hero?



The coach took longer to arrive than we expected. 


Some idle shots whilst waiting.




a field of colors



One of the few still intact from the rain.




A few other survivors