Matsushima ya

Waves at Matsushima
Waves at Matsushima by Tawaraya Sotatsu (fl. ca. 1600-1643)

Matsushima is a group of islands in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. There are some 260 tiny islands (shima) covered in pines (matsu) — hence the name — and is ranked as one of the Three Views of Japan. Matsushima was very seriously damaged by the Tsunami following the Sendai earthquake in March 2011, with more than 600 people killed.
Wikipedia, “Matsushima”

hundreds of tiny islands, each
with its own pine tree
like a flag planted by Mother Earth
Jason Crane, “Matsushima”

* * *

matushima no
iso ni murewiru
ashitadu no
ono ga samazama
mieshi chiyo kana

A thousand years
in the eye of each
& every crane
flocking on the rocky shore
of Matsushima.

—Kiyowara no Motosuke (908-990)

tachi kaeri
mata mo kite min
matsushima ya
ojima no tomaya
nami ni arasu na

Returning
once more to gaze
on Matsushima,
the waves at Ojima lashing
my rush-walled hut.

—Fujiwara no Shunzei (1114-1204)

shimajima ya
chiji ni kudakete
natsu no umi

Islands upon islands—
thousands of shards smashed
by the summer sea.

asayosa o
taga matsushima zo
katagokoro

Morning & evening
like someone at Matsushima—
unrequited love.

—Matsuo Bashô (1644-1694)

Matsushima in Rikuzen Province by Toyohara Chikanobu
Matsushima in Rikuzen Province by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838–1912)

The town was protected by a stunningly beautiful maze of coves and islands, topped with bonsai-shaped Japanese pines, which kept the worst of the tsunami at bay.

The water rose three metres and the town was relatively lightly affected, as the local emergency services chief told a group of stranded tourists earlier this week.

But everything is relative. Tetsuo lived, against the odds, but said some of his neighbours died. He is now staying at a friend’s house.

The Sydney Morning Herald

* * *

matsushima ya
tsuru ni mi o kare
hototogisu

Matsushima.
Borrow the body of a crane,
oh cuckoo.

—Kawai Sora (1649-1710)

matsushima ya
hito kobushi-zutsu
aki no kure

Autumn dusk—
each island like a fist
at Matsushima.

matsushima ya
kosumi wa kurete
naku hibari

As the light fades
on an islet at Matsushima,
a skylark’s song.

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)

matsushima ya
aa matsushima ya
matsushima ya

Matsushima,
ah, Matushima!
Matsushima.

—Anon. (attr. to Bashô)

19 Comments


  1. Stunningly beautiful. And sad.

    Thank you, Dave.

    Reply

  2. breathtakingly heart-wrenching

    Reply

  3. I was in Matsushima during the earthquake and tsunami. I believe we were the only American tourists there at the time. It is a stunningly beautiful place but has suffered greatly after this event. Most businesses were destroyed by the tsunami and many homes also. The town spent its own money to help get us out and we are forever grateful for this. I now have many new friends there and hope to get back some day to revisit them.

    Reply

    1. Wow. Glad you’re safe, but I’m sorry to hear the town was so badly damaged. Thanks so much for commenting here.

      Reply



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