A Japanese Thoreau of the Twelfth Century (13)


  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8
  • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 11
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13
  • Chapter 14
  • Chapter 15
  • Chapter 16

  • CHAPTER 13


    To describe the situation I must tell you that to the south is a bamboo pipe and a reservoir made of piled up stones. A copse stands close by the eaves, so that firewood is not far to fetch. The name of the place is Toyama. All traces of man are hidden by the coils of masaki [Euonymus japonica, Thbg., var. radicans] . The valley is thickly wooded, but open to the west, so that the place is not unfitted for philosophic meditation. In the Spring I can gaze upon the festoons of the wistaria, fine to see as purple clouds. When the west wind grows fragrant with its scent the note of the hototogisu is heard as if to guide me towards the Shide hill; in Autumn the shrill song of the cicada fills my ears, sounding like a regret for his cast-oil moult or may be a complaint of this mortal world ; in Winter I watch the snow-drifts pile and vanish, and am led to reflect upon the ever waxing and waning volume of the world's sinfulness.

    When I get tired of reciting prayers or of reading the scriptures I can rest at will; no one is by to prevent me, no friend to reproach me. I have made no vow of silence, but my lonely life stops my lips' play. I do not need to trouble myself about the strict observance of the commandments, for living as I do in complete solitude how should I be tempted to break them ? When I bend my steps towards the white waves of the stream I watch the morning boats cleaving the flood in their passage to and fro across the river, and recall to mind the beautiful verse of the acolyte Mansei ; at eventide, when I hear the rustle of the laurel leaves under the breeze, my fancy carries my thoughts to the waters of Jinyo, and I touch my lute in the manner of Gentotoku. When my spirits are exuberant and my imagination active, I liken the music the wind makes among the pine groves to the melody known as the Winds of Autumn, or the murmur of running waters to the air of the Flowing Fount. I have no skill in the arts of song or music, but I do not strive to please other men's ears, 't is but to nourish my own mind that in my solitude I play and sing.

    At the bottom of my hill stands another cabin, made of wattled bush-work. There the hill- ward dwells. He has a son, a youth who sometimes comes to see me, and we ramble about together. He is 16 and I am 60, yet we enjoy each other's company despite the difference in years. Sometimes We gather tsubana shoots, or the berries of the iwanashi, the bud-like bulbs of the yam, or the leaves of the seri. Sometimes we roam among the tanks for the paddy-fields that lie around the foot of the hill to pick up fallen rice-tufts to make hogumi of. On sunshiny days we climb the peak of my hill, and I gaze upon the distant skies
    that loom over my old home, over Kowada's hill, Fushimfs town, over Toba and Hatsukashi. No owner claims any rights here, so I am in full possession of my pleasure.

    When the fancy takes me to look further afield I need not undergo the labour of walking. I follow the line of hill-tops, cross Sumiyama and Kasatori, and pray at Iwana's shrine or bow before that of Ishima, or force my way amid the jungles of Awazu, not forgetting to do honour to the monuments of the old sage Semimaru — without moving a step. Or I cross Tanokami's stream and seek out the tomb of Sarumaru; on the way home, according to the year's time, we gather cherry sprays in full blossom, or ruddy-leaved autumn maple, or collect fern fronds, or pick up fallen nuts; and some of these treasures I humbly present to Amida, and some I keep for presents.

    On tranquil nights I gaze upon the moon's orb shining in through my window, and think, of the great figures of the men of old, or am moved to tears that drench my sleeves by the mournful cries of the monkeys in the neighbouring thickets. I note the fireilies in the ungle, and seem to see the flares of far-off Makijima, while the patter of rain at daybreak reminds me of the rattle of a storm amid the leaves of the woods. The horohoro of the yamadori makes me wonder whether 't is my father or my mother that crieth, and the tameness of the deer that roam under the peak tells me how far removed I am from the world of men.

    On cold nights I often stir up the ashes of my brazier to renew the embers, the comfort of an old man waking from a nap. My wild hill is no dreadful place, but the melancholy hootings of the owls give it one of the characteristics of hilly tracts, whereof the aspects are so various, giving rise to many reflexions in the minds of learned and thoughtful men.








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    「A Japanese Thoreau of the Twelfth Century」は『南方熊楠全集 第10巻 』に所収。

     南方熊楠の主要著作  おすすめ南方熊楠関連本