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Issue 43 - Walkinginagreatpoet'sfootsteps(Sendai)

Whisky Magazine Issue 43
October 2004

 

This article is 9 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Walkinginagreatpoet'sfootsteps(Sendai)

DaveBroomtravelstotheSendaiDistillerynearTokyo

Weallhaveourobsessions.Somehavemorethanothers.Oneofmineisalwayscarryinganumberofbooks,nomatterhowshortthetrip.They'renotnecessarilyread,buttheyactasasortofcomfortblanket.

Theselectionusuallycomprisesanovel,somenon-fictionandavolumeofpoetry.Somethingtocoverdifferentmoods.InJapan,partoftheportablelibrarywasatranslationofBasho'sTheNarrowRoadtotheDeepNorthwhichwastoprovestrangelyapposite.

BashowasJapan'sgreatesthaikupoet,themanwholiberatedaheavily-manneredstyleofverse,creatinginitsplaceonewherethehumanandnaturalworldbecameone.

“Gotothepineifyouwanttolearnaboutthepine,ortothebambooifyouwanttolearnofthebamboo...”hewrote.“Yourpoetryissuesofits
ownaccordwhenyouandtheobjecthavebecomeone.”

Thenatureofhaikuisoneofconcentration.Wetendtothinkofitintermsofrules,whereasitisaformwhichinadeceptivelylightfashionshowsthebeautyfoundintheeverydayandthemundane,thoughasBasho'sworkdemonstrates,thisapparentsimplicityactuallyhidesadeeper,spiritualtruth.

TheNarrowRoadishisgreatestwaybook,parttravelogue,parthaikudiary,andtodayweweretravellinginhisfootsteps,toNikka'sSendaidistillerysituatedinthefoothillsofthemountainswhichliea45minutedrivewestofthecityofthesamename,itselfatwohourbullettrainridenortheastfromTokyo.

BashoarrivedinSendaion4thMay1689,“thedaywecustomarilythrowfreshleavesofirisontheroofandprayforgoodhealth.”Hespentafewdaysinthecompanyoftheartist(andfellowpoet)KaemonwhoescortedhimtotheplainofMiyagino,“wherefieldsofbushcloverwerewaitingtobloominautumn...”.

Nowitwasautumn.Th...

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