Edo ni moduru (Back to Edo)
I traveled on with joy in my heart. Finally I would be meeting this Tosei, now known as Basho, after that seemingly not beautiful banana-tree with its tiny vague yellow blossoms and its useless wood. This banana-tree is beautiful through its ugliness and uselessness.
While I was on my way back home to Edo I contemplated about that banana-tree asking myself "why this famous poet had chosen this pseudonym.
unworthy to look at
After a few days I almost was at Edo. I sat down next to the road I was walking and looked at Edo. The town was rebuild and looked even more beautiful then it ever was. I saw the people, children playing and every were I looked I only saw happiness. As I sat there my mind went on a roll. Thoughts of my happy childhood and the sadness of losing both my parents fought for my attention. While I let go my thoughts and memories, tears covered my cheeks. "I still miss you both", I whispered.
I sat there for a few hours and when the shadows became longer and the sky started to change into the beauty of the sunset I walked into the city. Edo my home-town.
thoughts of days gone
|Edo suburb lodging house (image found on Pinterest)|
I found a small lodging house in the suburb of Edo named "Fuji no Hana", Wisteria flowers, and rented a room for a few days. It was a nice, not very expensive, lodging house and the owner was a beautiful former geisha with a bright smile, named Shiori, "poem". She was a great host and she wrote haiku also.
violets in thousand colors
After a good meal I decided to go to sleep. I said goodnight to my host and went to my room. I was exhausted, but couldn't find sleep. I turned and turned on my sleeping mat, but the sleep wouldn't come. After a while I went downstairs to the dinner of the lodging house. All guests were already at sleep and only the host, Shiori, was still there. She sat at one of the tables with a booklet of paper that was still virgin white.
I coughed to get her attention. She looked up from the virgin paper. "Couldn't sleep", I said. "Can I sit with you?"
She nodded. "Tell me something about your wanderings", she said. "For starters ... what's your name?"
"My name is Yozakura", I answered.
She smiled. "I once knew a young guy named Yozakura", she said. "He was the son of a grocer". She looked closer to me. "You look somewhat like him".
"Would you like to tell me a little bit more about him?" I asked.
" His mother died when she was giving birth to him. I remember that his father wasn't loving him, but that was more a reaction, I think, on the fact that his wife died during labor".
Tears rolled down my cheeks. Shiori, in shock, looked at me as she saw me crying.
"What's the matter Yozakura?"
" I am that Yozakura you are telling about. My mother died in labor and my father was angry about that. As I became five years he decided to send me away to the shogun to get educated. After several years I returned to Edo and my father. He forgave me and asked my forgiveness for all he had said and done. We became closer then we ever had been. I lost him in the Fire of Meireki". My tears rolled freely now.
Shiori laid an arm around me and kissed me on my forehead. "Yozakura you are a righteous man and you needed this. You never mourned about them, maybe you fled for the thoughts and memories of them, but this ... death belongs to life, without that knowledge your life will never be complete. Come on let me help you to your room".
I awoke around noon and right then Shiori knocked on the door and entered my room.
"Did you sleep well Yozakura?"
" Yes, thank you. Thank you for all you have done".
Shiori smiled. "It's okay. Come go wash yourself and have lunch with me", she laughed. Her laugh sounded like a crystal brook and touched me. For the first time I felt something I never had experienced in my life. I knew right than ... I was in love.
After lunch Shiori and I made a chained poem together. This was the starting verse:
reflects the willow trees
birds sing their song
After a few days at the Wisteria flowers lodging house I went into Edo on my way to meet my soon to be haiku master Basho, but before that I visited my mother's garden.
on this lonely grave
As I was sitting in front of her grave stone a young handsome guy walked into my mother's garden. In a way I felt a connection with him.
"What are you looking for?" I asked him.
He looked at me and smiled. "Finally I meet you Yozakura, son of Kyoshi and Fujiko, my brother".
"Who ... who are you?"
" I am your brother Yozakura. After your father send you away he and my mother became acquainted and married soon after. My mother, Sachiko, happy child, died shortly after I was born. Father send me to my grandmother. He couldn't handle the situation, because of your mother, who died during labor of you'.
I saw tears on his face and I saw similarities in his features with my father. "My brother ... I know what you are feeling right now. I felt the same. Please don't cry or let us cry together. What's your name ... my brother?"
" My name is Kichirou (lucky son)", he whispered.
" Where do you live?"
" Just around the corner of this memorial garden for both our mothers. My mother also was buried here by father".
He took my hand. "Let me show you her grave".
Not far of my mother's grave I saw another marble stone, surrounded by Jasmine.
" This is my mother's grave". Kichirou said. "He planted Jasmine in her honor. She loved the sweet perfume of Jasmine".
memories of a loved one
A little later Kichirou invited me to his home. It was a small, but cozy, home and it felt awesome. I smelled the sweet perfume of Jasmine and saw a small garden behind his home in which the Jasmine was in full bloom.
We walked into the garden and sat down on the cushions on the small wooden veranda. Kichirou presented me Jasmine tea. In silence we drank our tea. The sweet perfume of the Jasmine seems to become stronger and not a minute later it started to rain softly.
"Why have you come to Edo?" Kichirou asked me. I looked at him.
" I am hoping to become an apprentice of Basho, a famous haiku poet from Edo. Maybe you have heard of him".
" Yes I have heard of him. Recently he settled down in a small hut along the river. One of his apprentices gave him a Basho-tree and his hut is now called the "Basho hut" and he, Tosei, changed his name into Basho. I have visited him once. He is a handsome guy, not extraordinary beautiful, but handsome. He has a very loving character and his apprentices adore him. A friend of mine, Kikaku, is an apprentice of him, a very close relation they have. There is a rumor that they are not only friends, but also lovers. Basho is openly about his preference for guys, but as far as I know he and Kikaku don't have a relationship. They are just close friends".
|Kikaku (image found on Pinterest)|
Kichirou nodded. "I will introduce him to you tomorrow if that's okay with you?"
" Sure that's okay. Do you write haiku?"
" No I have tried it but it's to difficult for me. And you? Do you write haiku? "
" In fact I do, but they aren't really good in my opinion. Friends however say that my haiku are really beautiful and the encouraged me to go on and make them even more beautiful. That's the reason why I love to meet Basho. I hope he will be my sensei, my master, to help me to improve my haiku writing skills".
" Do you have a few examples of haiku you have written?"
" Yes, I have".
" Can I read them?"
" Yes of course". I picked up my knapsack and gave him a booklet of rice-paper on which I had calligraphed my haiku.
" Wow ... these are real beauties. For sure I know that Basho will take you as his apprentice".
I blushed. "Thank you Kichirou". I gave him a kiss on his forehead. "My brother ... I love you".
" I love you too Yozakura. I am glad to have found you my brother. Let us celebrate that. Do you drink sake?"
" Yes I do, but I do like it cold".
|Sake set Wisteria blossom|
Kichirou came back to the veranda with a bamboo tray on which he presented sake in a wonderful earthenware jar and two earthenware bowls. I remembered them. This sake set was decorated with Wisteria blossom and I knew that they once were in the possession of my father.
" This set I know", I whispered. " Father has made it".
Kichirou nodded. "I got them as a gift from father. He said "One day you and your brother Yozakura will meet. Please save them for that day". Well ... that day has come today. So let us drink to the health of our parents, and to the health of you and me. Finally we have found each other".
bloom in front of the veranda
to be continued