home
intro
back
next
     
               
         
Izumi's Diary Page 63      Monday 8 October 2012  
         
         
Photographs Taken in a City Churchyard
         
     
 

Hello!

As I suspected of myself, here I am back again at the new (to me but not of course to them) resting place of the ancestors.

There is not really very much that I can or should say about these (happy) photographs. If you can appreciate the mood of those mornings then you can understand how PEN and I felt and why we took the photographs you can see here. And so that should be explanation enough.

Although perhaps I could say that my footsteps were led in a certain direction...

 
     
     
         
         
   
Leadlight Footpath II
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 20mm, 1/80 sec, f/1.8, 200 ISO, 40mm (eqiv)
   
         
         
         
   
   
Leadlight Footpath I
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 20mm, 1/80 sec, f/1.8, 200 ISO, 40mm (eqiv)
         
         
     
 
 
 
O Come All Ye Faithful...  (IR081)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/125 sec, f/3.6, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
     
 

But because my mind is what it is, once I have said that there is not much to say, I start thinking about such things, and I wonder what it is about places such as these that draw me in to them and then draw out my (and PEN's too of course) creative tendencies.

There is the air of peace and calm, even if there is a busy road or suburb nearby, and that tends to stop short, sharp thoughts and encourage longer, more wandering ones.

There is also, at least in the resting places that PEN and I prefer to visit, the slightly run-down look and the abandonment of the original order and neat-and-tidiness of the lines of headstones and the rows of plinths. We like the idea that Time and Nature work together to subvert the grand plans of Man.

 
     
     
     
   
 
Grave Sights  (IR029)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/3.6, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
         
   
   
Grave Sights   (698)
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 14mm, 1/60 sec, f/2.5, 800 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
         
         
         
   
Grave Sights   (694)
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 25mm, 1/60 sec, f/1.4, 320 ISO, 50mm (eqiv)
   
         
         
         
 
 
 
Grave Sights   (699)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14mm, 1/60 sec, f/2.5, 640 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
     
 

 

 
 

I wonder if also it is to do with the fact that there are many people of various ages and cultures and occupations and from various periods of time, resting with each other and somehow all their minds and thoughts can come together to create a big bubble that people can access to help them in their lives.

And also because the ancestors have no more cares, and so that leads us today to realise that a lot of what we are worrying about should not be made so important.

 
 

 

 
     
             
 
     
 
Grave Scenes (IR974)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/30 sec, f/3.6, 160 ISO, 52mm (eqiv)
     
             
             
             
   
   
     
Grave Scenes   (IR017)
     
     
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/30 sec, f/4.5, 100 ISO, 93mm (eqiv)
     
             
             
             
     
 
     
Grave Scenes  (IR989)
 
     
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
             
             
 

 

 
 

As you know, I like my PEN very much and he is my favourite creative companion when I walk the streets. But I am lucky that I am able to use other cameras as well, depending on the circumstances.

My good friend David, because of his work, has other cameras that I can borrow from time to time. Some are serious, like his big Pentax and Hasselblad and some not so much so, like his Holga panoramic and Panasonic infra-red conversion.

You can see some happy results from the Panasonic LX2 above and there are also more below. He is half-way between the Holga and PEN in that I can look at his screen (unfortunately he cannot have a proper viewfinder) while I compose the photograph and also afterwards but it is in Photoshop that the magical difference of infra-red images happens. As you have noticed, he renders leaves and grasses white or light grey and brings out the emphasis of clouds. He also produces strange colours which I can either turn to my creative advantage or render as black and white, depending on how I feel about the image.

And you know by now that I also like to play with different lenses on PEN to see what images may result from pushing against the boundaries of the optical envelope.

So know what path I am heading down now, don’t you?

 
 

 

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (H1-05)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Tales  (H2-13)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
 

 

 
 

Perhaps the name 135Pan will give away that this camera uses 35mm film, which I found to be an enjoyable difference from the digital of PEN and even the 110 film of Little Brother and the Cousins. And ‘Holga’ may also indicate to you that the quality of images he produces can be a little on the... anno... ‘creative’ side.

 
 

 

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Tales   (H4-08)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Tales   (H2-15)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
 

 

 
 

This was the first time that I went out with a panoramic camera, and if you know the philosophy behind Holga cameras, you will know to expect, as I did – somewhat soft and perhaps dreamy-like images and some light that reaches the film without entering through the lens. But to my mind that was in keeping with the location and I hope you can see with my eyes when you look at the happy photographs that resulted.

 
 

 

 
     
     
   
 
Grave Sights  (H1-02)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
 

 

 
 

I particularly think the happy photograph above says in its image what I was feeling in my head and my heart.

And my old friend Serendipity was there also as I had no idea what I would end up with from the Holga camera, if anything at all. And being a film camera all I could do at the time was carefully take the photograph, wind on the film, and then take the next one. It was only days later when I took the lid off the developing tank at the end of the final wash that I even knew that I had images on the film.

So I was rather surprisedly pleased when, after scanning the negatives and opening them up in Photoshop, I could see that the realities on the screen matched the possibilities of the location.

Then my fingers started itching and my creative eyes turned to David's recently-acquired, and long-time lusted after, Hasselblad XPan...

 
 

 

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X6-01)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X5-20)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
   
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-10)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
 

 

 
 

Now please let me explain something that you may have noticed. Because PEN and the Panasonic camera are electronic devices (but not without souls, I can say) they provide me with all sorts of informations about each photograph which I tell you here for your interest. But it is not in the film cameras' nature to allow for this. I know the Holga's shutter speed because he only has one and the aperture was the widest he could give me. With the XPan, if I have not become excited by the moment or the very handling of him, I have tried to jot down in a notebook or tell a little recorder the technical details of the photograph, but most times I have not.

I must admit to you that capturing the Moment, Decisive or not, was what was on the top of my mind and I think you will forgive me for this.

Now, please continue on to enjoy the happy photographs.

 
 

 

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-08)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 

When I was younger, as part of my English learnings I read much classical poetry and although I did not understand a lot of it, because it was written in Poetic English or the language was of its times, which is different from the English of now, some of the ideas and concepts and particular lines became lodged in my head, and I can still recall them now, so much later on.

As I was wandering through and pondering in the resting place I remembered some lines from Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and I wondered if perhaps some people, seeing me and PEN gathering our photographs, would think these lines were appropriate, two hundred and sixty-two years later:

 
     
  Oft have we seen him [her] at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (IR063)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/60 sec, f/8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
             
 
     
 
Grave Sights  (IR023)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/60 sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, 39mm (eqiv)
     
             
             
             
     
 
     
Grave Sights  (IR971)
 
     
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
             
         
     
 

Mr Gray wrote his poem over several years, finishing it in 1750. You may be more familiar with the opening lines, which most people remember:

 
     
  The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X1-07)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-04)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 

You know that I have written several times before about my fascination with the synchronicity of things. So compare those lines with a haiku poem written by one of the masters of the form, Issa Kobayashi, in 1816:

 
       
  Ushi mô mô mô
tö kiri kara   
detari keri
Dimly the grey cow comes
mooing mooing and mooing
out of the misty morn
 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X8-02)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w Pentax PC 28mm, 1/60 sec, f/11, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
 

I know that one is set in the evening and the other in the morning, but they could be cousins in verse, even if distant ones.

 
 

 

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (IR055)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/15 sec, f/5.6, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (IR084)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X4-06)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 90mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-20)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Thoughts  (X4-08)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 

And not only people find these places ideal for sunny-day sauntering with both the legs and the mind...

 
       
 

Furu inu ga
saki ni tatsu  
nari hakamairi

 

The old dog
leads the way...
Visiting the graves

– Issa 1823

 
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X6-05)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 90mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-19)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X3-25)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X5-21)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
         
 
 
 
Grave Sight(X3-08)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 90mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
         
         
         
   
Grounded Buttress I  (626)
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/25 sec, f/5.6, 3200 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
   
         
         
         
   
   
Grounded Buttress II  (X4-19)
   
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
         
         
     
 
 
 
Grounded Buttress III  (X1-15)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 

Thomas Gray was one of a group who were referred to as ‘graveyard poets’ and it was said about them, a bit unkindly I think, that they wrote about ‘skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms’. Do you think that my photographs could be thus called?

I hope not. I hope you can see what I am trying to say in a visual way. I think that you would not be reading these words if you did not, so that makes me happy.

But I wonder if I will ever be thought of as one of the ‘graveyard photographers’? If so, I hope it is before I too become one of the ancestors, so I can have a little chuckle within myself at the thought of it.

 
 

 

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Tales  (930)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/60 sec, f/4.6, 200 ISO, 56mm (eqiv)
 
 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Sights  (H4-05)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
         
 
 
 
Grave Thoughts  (938)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/250 sec, f/9, 200 ISO, 66mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
 
 
 
Grave Sights  (713)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 25mm, 1/125 sec, f/2, 200 ISO, 50mm (eqiv)
 
         
     
 

 

 
 

After thinking about Mr Gray’s poem (and it is a rather long one), for some reason I then thought about much shorter poems and the haiku came into my mind.

Because of my background, the concept of the haiku runs through my blood, so I looked up some books that I have on Japanese poetry and found some poems that I thought were appropriate to the ancestors and where they rest.

Then I thought of matching the words of the haiku with the images I was finding and capturing. Here are some of the results and I hope they are of interest to you.

 
 

 

 
     
         
         
 

Passing seasons
weather the land
but the grass keeps growing

– Izumi 2012


 
 
     
Grave Thoughts  (IR996)
 
     
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
 
 

Graveyard...
All alone a maiden flower
twisting

– Issa 1811

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (916)
     
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/60 sec, f/7.1, 200 ISO, 84mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
         
 

In the misty day
not growing older...
Grave tablets.

– Issa

 
 
     
Grave Thoughts  (929)
 
     
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/80 sec, f/5.6, 320 ISO, 84mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
 

 

 
 

Haiku is a form of poetry which has certain rules regarding line lengths and syllables and should be about nature and its effects on the writer. There are only three lines and the last line should comment on or sum up, preferably obliquely, so the reader can add their own thoughts, the first two.

Where I can find out the date of the haiku I have included it so you can see how old and yet modern a lot of them are.

 
 

 

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-08)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
 

 

 
 

In morning mist
a frenzy of drops
from the tree...

– Issa

 
 

 

 
         
 
 
 
Grave Sights  (959)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/160 sec, f/7.1, 200 ISO, 44mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
   
   
Grave Sights  (958)
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/200 sec, f/5.6, 200 ISO, 180mm (eqiv)
         
         
         
   
Grave Sights  (963)
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/160 sec, f/6.3, 200 ISO, 108mm (eqiv)
   
         
         
 
 
 
Grave Sights  (975)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/200 sec, f/8, 200 ISO, 72mm (eqiv)
 
         
     
 

 

 
 

There are four people who are generally regarded as haiku masters, and in a way the fathers, or perhaps one should think grandfathers and great-grandfathers, of the form.

They are Matsuo Bashō, who lived from 1644 to 1694,
Yosa Buson, who lived from 1716 to 1784,
Kobayashi Issa, who lived from 1763 to 1827
and Masaoka Shiki who lived from 1867 to 1902. 

As you can see, apart from Issa, who was 21 when Buson died, there was a gap between their lives rather than them living at the same time. Of course there were a great many other haiku writers as well, men and women, some very well known in their times if not so much to us today, and others whose fame has persisted over time.

 
 

 

 
     
             
 

Matsuo Bashō became interested in poetry when he was quite young and when he moved from Ueno to Edo in 1672 it did not take long for him to join the cultural class of the city and then to become known throughout Japan for his poetry.

He often left the city life behind and went on ever-longer wanderings around the country, which provided ideas and inspiration for his writings.

 
 
     
Here is Bashō with a far-away look to his eyes.
I think his travel bugs are biting him again.
 
             
             
 

 

 
 

My great footsteps hero Ando Hiroshige, the Woodblock Flâneur, being born in 1797 and joining the ancestors in 1858, lived at the same time as both Issa and Shiki, although Shiki was only 9 when Hiroshige died, and had probably not shown his potential as a hokkeur by then. But as Hiroshige was born 103 years after Bashō went to join his ancestors, he knew Bashō’s work so well that he several times paid homage to the places that Bashō had visited and written about.

 
 

 

 
     
             
 
 

Here is Hiroshige's woodblock print of Bashō's hut on Camellia Hill at Sekiguchi, which was published in 1857.

The waterway is actually the man-made Kanda Aqueduct, which was built about 1550 during the early Tokugawa period to supply water to Edo, both for the use of the population and in case of fires.

 
             
             
             
  Similarly to what Hiroshige would do, Bashō wrote about his wanderings and embellished the subsequent books not with woodblock pictures, but with poetry and illustrations.  
 
     
A candid portrait of Bashō at work by his friend and patron Sugiyama Sanpu
 
             
             
 

 

 
 

Bashō’s most famous trip was to the Land of Oku, what were then the wild, almost-unknown, especially to the sophisticates of the south, parts of Japan up in the northern east and interior. In those days the northern shore of Honshu marked the top of Japan. The further-north island of Hokkaido was not colonised until much later. Bashō wanted to travel in the footsteps of poets of old, to see what was to be seen and to write his own poetry about it.

He wrote in the Spring of 1684, just before he left:

 
 

 

 
 

There came a day when the clouds drifting along with the wind aroused a
wanderlust in me, and I set off on a journey to roam along the seashores...

 
     
 

It took him about five months of walking, (with a little bit of horse riding and boating, if truth be knowing) and as well as writing verses he kept a diary of his travels. He went with his friend and student Kawai Sogoro, whose pen name was Sora. Here you will see another of those time-parallels that I keep coming across – Bashō and Sora had their pens and I have my PEN.

The two friends also wrote complementary poems. When Bashō visited the ruins of Lord Hidehira’s mansion he wrote:

 
     
 

…many a feat of chivalrous valour was repeated here during the short span of the three generations, but both the actors and the deeds have long been dead and passed into oblivion. When a country is defeated, there remain only mountains and rivers, and on a ruined castle in spring only grasses thrive. I sat down on my hat and wept bitterly till I almost forgot time.

 
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (H4-11)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
 
     
       
 

Now the summer grass
Is all that remains
Of the hopes and dreams
Of ancient warriors.

 
     
 

To which Sora versily replied:

 
       
 

I caught a glimpse
Of the frosty hair of Kanefusa
Wavering among
The white blossoms of unohana.

 
     
         
   
   
Grave Tales  (966)
   
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/160 sec, f/7.1, 200 ISO, 84mm (eqiv)
         
         
         
 
 
 
Grave Tales  (967)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/250 sec, f/8, 200 ISO, 116mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
     
 
 
 
Grave Tales  (968)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/160 sec, f/5.6, 800 ISO, 134mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
     
 

Unohana is a tiny white flower that grows in thick clusters and flowers in the Spring. Sometimes it can look like snow on the ground. Kanefusa was a brave and noble warrior of previous times.

 
 

 

 
     
     
   
   
Grave Thoughts  (X3-16)
   
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
         
         
     
 

Perhaps though, living in an age where things change and advance very quickly, we see time as passing much more quickly than did Bashō and even Hiroshige, where nothing changed much in society over hundreds of years, especially in peaceful times.

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
 
 
This candid drawing of Bashō on his travels was also done by his friend Sanpu.
It is not quite a very early Decisive Moment but it probably could be
called a Street Sketch.
 
         
         
     
 

Later on in the journey, Sora became ill with stomach pains and decided to go and stay with some relatives he had not far away.  Bashō relates:

 
 

 

 
 

As he said good-bye he wrote:

 
       
 

No matter where I fall
On the road
Fall will I to be buried
Among the flowering bush-clovers.

 
     
 

I felt deeply in my heart both the sorrow of one who goes and the grief of one who remains, just as a solitary bird separated from his flock in dark clouds, and wrote in answer:

 
       
 

From this day on, alas,
The dew-drops shall wash away
The letters on my hat
That say 'A party of two'.

 
     
     
         
 
 
 
Here is the sorrowful parting of the great friends Bashō and Sora, when Sora became ill.
Happily for them, and the story, they met again towards the completion of Bashō's trek.
 
         
         
     
 
 
 
Grave Tales  (X1-02)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
             
 
     
 
Grave Thoughts  (IR105)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/3.6, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
             
             
     
   
 
Grave Thoughts  (IR113)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/30 sec, f/4.9, 100 ISO, 112mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Tales  (X1-05)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 

What I did notice when reading Bashō's diary was that although he thought before he left Edo there was a good chance, because of bandits or disease or wild animals, that he would not return, there were lots of towns and villages up there and he almost always seemed able to get lodgings for the night and something to eat. Even once, fearful of becoming lost in a vast grassland, he borrowed a horse that knew the way to the town he was heading for. After he had arrived safely at his destination, he "therefore sent back the horse, with a small amount of money tied to the saddle".

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
 
 
Grave Tales  (X6-14)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 90mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
         
         
 

 

 
  At another point Bashō wrote:  
 

 

 
 

I came to the pine woods called Sue no Matsuyama, where I found a temple called Masshozan and a great number of tombstones scattered among the trees. It was a depressing sight indeed, for young or old, loved or loving, we must all go to such a place at the end of our lives.

(written at Shiogama)

 
     
     
     
   
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-14)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
   
 
Grave Scenes  (X2-15)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
   
 
Grave Scenes  (X1-10)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (IR116)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/80 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Sights  (IR070)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/320 sec, f/4, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
     
     
     
 
 
 
Grave Sights  (X8-05)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w Pentax PC 28mm, 1/60 sec, f/11, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
 
     
     
 

 

 
 

In his own travels, Hiroshige visited and illustrated several of the places that Bashō had been to. The Matsushima area in particular was known for the beauty of its landscape.

As Bashō's pen noted in 1684:

 
     
 

I noticed a number of tiny cottages scattered among the pine trees and pale blue threads of smoke rising from them. I wondered what kind of people were living in those isolated houses, and was approaching one of them with a strange sense of yearning, when, as if to interrupt me, the moon rose glittering over the darkened sea, completing the full transformation to a night-time scene... I felt myself to be in a world totally different from the one I was accustomed to.

(written at Matsushima)

 
     
 

So Hiroshige's brush replied in 1834:

 
     
 
 
 
Ando Hiroshige - Autumn Moon Over Ishiyama Temple (1834)
 
     
     
           
           
   

There are not too many pictures of Bashō en route, but here he is depicted by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi meeting two fellow-travellers at the inn at Sarashina during a harvest-moon-viewing festival.

I wonder what he is asking them. Perhaps information about road conditions? Perhaps if the food at the inn is any good? Or perhaps, noticing the teapot in the foreground, he is hoping to be invited to join them for a chat and a nice refreshing cuppa.

Several of Bashō's journeys were made with the express purpose of watching the full moon rising over a significant landscape, one to Kashima in 1867 where clouds thwarted his pen and particularly this one to Sarashina in 1688.

 

 
 
           
           
           
   

It took Bashō about five years after completing the journey to publish what was known as a haibun, a mixture of poetry, prose, observation, reflection and even travel guide. He called the final work Oku no Hosomichi, or The Narrow Road to the Interior. It is also translated as The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which gives it an implication that we today can understand. It became very popular in a way that was to be echoed by Hiroshige’s writings and woodblock prints so many years later.

Here is a portrait of Bashō by the famous woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai. It cannot have been carved from life as Bashō died in 1694 and Hokusai was not born until 1780, so it was probably a response to reading Bashō's words in one of his books.

 
 
           
           
             
 
 

If at the end of our journey
there is no final
resting place,
then we need not fear
losing our way

– Sojun

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (703)
     
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 25mm, 1/60 sec, f/1.4, 250 ISO, 50mm (eqiv)
     
             
             
 

 

 
 

I see that I have written quite a bit about Bashō (who was a member of a famous school of poets, as was Mr Gray in his times). But if we can accept that the idea of travelling, whether in the city or the countryside, in order to experience the sights and sounds and encounters along the way, is the mark of a flâneur then I think Bashō can be a member of the group that includes Hiroshige with his woodblock prints and others including M Cartier-Bresson all the way to humble me with her PEN who also writes a Diary as he did, but without such poetic interludes.

But all this writing about haiku did make my brain have a little itch...

It must be because of my cultural blood that I decided to try writing some haiku myself, using the thoughts and emotions arising from the ancestors' resting place as my inspirational guides.

At first I leant on existing haiku from the masters to get my creative balance, you may say, then I struck out on my own…

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
 

Heat shimmers...
They look like dear friends...
the two graves

– Issa 1791

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (X3-07)
     
 
Hasselblad XPan w 90mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
     
         
         
             
 

Summer breeze whispering...
The grass stalks quiver
like a lover's heart

– Izumi 2012

   
 
Grave Thoughts  (X3-12)
     
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
     
             
             
         
 
 

A Spring day in Winter.
I go out for a walk...
A fly comes along

– Issa 1824

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (IR139)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/4, 100 ISO, 41mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
 

 

 
 

Of course, to translate a haiku into another language and keep both the specific meaning and syllabic integrity in both cases is almost impossible. But the meaning is the most important, so that is how I shall approach them here. Perhaps that is why illustrating a haiku with a picture can sometimes be more successful than trying to translate it into another language. Here I lay before you the works of the masters and some attempts by me. I cannot even say that I have an advantage in that I can also add the pictures by PEN and myself because Bashō also illustrated his books of poetry.

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
 
 
Grave Sights (X1-14)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 90mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
         
   

Yellow evening sun...
Long shadow of the scarecrow
reaches to the road

– Shoha

 

Early morning sun...
Long shadows of the headstones
touch my feet

– Izumi 2012

   
             
             
 

 

 
 

There have been (and are) many haiku poets, probably more than half the Japanese population by my reckon, and like most things some are better at it than others.

You will please note that I am quoting here others than the Four Fathers that I mentioned before, such as Shoha and Issa. If you are interested in this particular cultural pursuit you will find much information on the internet and many books of haiku poets readily available.

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
     
       
       
   

Lamplight
in the Spring mist...
Dawn

– Issa 1821

 
     
     
     
       
       
   

Lamplight
in the Spring mist
soon yields to the sun

– Izumi 2012

 
     
     
     
       
       
       
       
 
Grave Thoughts  (774)
     
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 20mm, 1/60 sec, f/1.7, 400 ISO, 40mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
         
 
 

Solitude...
Under the fallen leaves
my ancestors

– Issa 1813

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (IR998)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/60 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
         
 
 

Each one in solitude...
The ancestors lie under the leaves,
yet are together

– Izumi 2012

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (IR011)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/40 sec, f/4.9, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
 

 

 
 

Issa's real name was Nobuyuki Kobayashi and my long-time readers may smile when you learn that his haigō or pen-name 'Issa' means 'cup of tea'. I don't know of any haiku writer whose pen-name means 'biscuit', though.

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
 

A spray of sunlight
caught by the grasses
splashes against stone...
But leaves no trace

– Izumi 2012

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (913)
     
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/200 sec, f/8, 200 ISO, 84mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
         
 

Golden flower
capturing the sun...
Let your stem carry warmth
to the sleeper below

– Izumi 2012

   
     
Grave Thoughts  (906)
 
     
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/200 sec, f/8, 200 ISO, 76mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
     
 
 
 
Grave Scenes  (X5-22)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
 

They sleep quietly under stone.
Dawn seeps through the trees
and the grass
keeps growing

– Izumi 2012

 
 

 

 
     
         
 

My ancestors...
Today too they wander
to points unknown

 – Issa 1810

 
 
     
Grave Thoughts  (IR150)
 
     
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/40 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
 

The ancestors.
Lying ever still
yet travelling on paths unknown

 – Izumi 2012

 
 
     
Grave Thoughts  (IR131)
 
     
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/125 sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
 
 

Farewell.
I pass as all things do...
Dew on grass

– Banzan

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (H8-11)
     
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
     
         
         
         
 

No one really knows
the nature of birth
nor the true dwelling place.
We return to the source
and turn to dust

 – Sojun

 

 
 
     
Grave Thoughts  (IR071)
 
     
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/320 sec, f/4.9, 100 ISO, 112mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
 
 

Sunrise...
The grasshopper who missed the spider's net
seeks the shelter of the leaves

– Izumi 2012

 
 
The Morning Grasshopper  (IR182)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/125 sec, f/4, 100 ISO, 30mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
         
 
 

More than last year
I now feel solitude...
This Autumn twilight

– Issa

 
 
Grave Tales  (612)
     
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/60 sec, f/3.5, 400 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
     
   
 
Grave Sights  (X8-03)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w Pentax PC 28mm, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
 
     
 

Earth and metal...                
Although my breathing ceases
time and tide go on. 

– Atsujin

 
 

 

 
     
     
   
 
Grave Sights  (H4-07)
 
 
Holga 135Pan w 55mm, 1/100, f/8, Kodak Ultramax @ 400 ASA
 
     
 

Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it.
Going, all is clear, without a doubt.
What, then, is all?

– Hosshin

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
 

This world
is but
a fleeting dream...
So why be alarmed
at its evanescence?

– Sojun

 

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (IR179)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/200 sec, f/4.9, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
     
   
 
Grave Tales  (X1-08)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w 45mm, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
     
 

To write something and leave it behind us,
it is but a dream...
When we awake we know
there is not even anyone to read it

– Sojun

 
 

 

 
     
         
 
 

Rising over
setting over
the swishing grasses...
Spring sun

– Issa 1807

 
 
Grave Tales  (IR130)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/250 sec, f/4, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
         
 
 

The vagaries of life,
though painful,
teach us
not to cling
to this floating world

– Sojun

 

 
 
Grave Scenes  (IR046)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
         
   
John Leys' Rest V  (IR154)
   
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/50 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
   
         
         
         
 
 
 
John Leys' Rest II  (616)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/60 sec, f/3.5, 1250 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
 

As you are seeing, most of the details of the ancestors here are well-shrouded by time's passing, leaving only the names and dates on the headstones to cause one to think about the lives of those who rest here.

In the same way that places of old abandoned industry cause us to think about the lives of the people who used to work in them, so to do these gravesigns, but they sometimes give us a bit more information to feed our thoughts.

 
     
 

 

 
         
 
 
 
John Leys' Rest I  (617)
 
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/60 sec, f/5, 3200 ISO, 66mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
 

 

 
  As I was sitting on a nearby plinth I noticed that Mr Leys had been gathered at the age of forty. I wonder if it was sickness or an accident or just natural human erosion that saw his demise. It is interesting that the memorial was erected by his working comrades as it would indicate that he still had a strong link to them in some way. Did it happen while he was employed at Morts Dock in Sydney Harbour? Now here my detective side appears – what is meant by the very small remark that he was a ‘sometime’ Foreman Engineer? It is just visible under his name.  
 

 

 
     
         
 
 
 
John Leys' Rest III  (IR015)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/30 sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
 
 
 
John Leys' Rest VI  (IR048)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
         
 
 
 
John Leys' Rest VII  (IR152)
 
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/100 sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
 
         
         
 

Morts Dock was opened in March 1855 to service and repair the newly-introduced steamships which had started to ply the Australian coastal trade as well as international shipping routes, so Mr Leys would have been part of the great change from sailing ships to steam ships in his engineering career. The first steamship built for Australia, the Sophia Jane, arrived at Sydney from Scotland in 1831 and the first steam liners from Europe began calling in in 1852.

But the dock was not as successful as the owners had hoped and by 1867 it had gone into general engineering, including the manufacture of steam locomotives for the railways. (I also find these machines fascinating – but that’s a story for another day.) Maybe this accounts for Mr Leys’ ‘sometime’ occupation. But I still have to uncover the cause of his untimely demise and burial with his ancestors.

 
     
 

 

 
         
 
John Leys' Rest IV  (X7-21)
 
 
Hasselblad XPan w Loreo 35mm PC Lens-in-a-Cap, 1/60, sec f/11, T-Max 400 @ 400 ASA
 
         
         
             
 
 

Was it you who came
or was it I who went –
I do not remember.
Was that dream or reality?
Was I asleep or awake?

– Bashō

 
 
Reflections in a City Churchyard  (906)
     
 
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-42mm, 1/20 sec, f/5.6, 3200 ISO, 84mm (eqiv)
     
             
             
     
 

Ooh, there are a lot of words here from a certain someone who said that she really did not have much to say about this ancestral place today, aren't there?

But, without seeking for an excuse, that does bear out what I have been saying about the collective thoughtfulness of these resting places and how they can affect like-minds.

It's interesting that although PEN and I go to these places primarily with the intention of capturing photographs, but in a calmer and more measured way than on the streets, sometimes I put PEN down and just absorb the atmosphere that inhabits the area.

I suppose this can be thought of as another of the circular events in life, where you start out with one idea or plan in mind then, almost without realising it, a big circle has occurred and you are sort of back where you started, but different because of what has happened in the meantime, either in reality or in the dark pathways and byways of your brain.

And if you have not met Bashō before, I hope you enjoyed your introduction to him and his fellow poets-in-arms and their writings. And you thought that putting together their haiku and my photographs was a right and respectful thing to do.

As I said, if people like Yvon and M Cartier-Bresson and M Robert Doisneau and Jeff Carter were flâneurs with a camera and Ando Hiroshige was a flâneur with a brush and woodblocks then Bashō can be though of as a flâneur with a poetic pen.

So let us leave the last poetic words to Bashō, with his own last poetic words, after he fell ill in Osaka in 1694 and, surrounded by his friends and disciples, peacefully left them to join his ancestors...

 
     
     
         
 
 

Falling ill on a journey,
my dreams go wandering
over a field of dried grass

– Bashō 1694

 
 
Grave Thoughts  (IR006)
     
 
Panasonic LX2 Infrared, 1/60 sec, f/2.8, 100 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
     
         
         
 

 

 
 

If you are interested, there is much information to be found about Bashō and the many other haiku poets if you look around the internet.

I have found haiku from many various sources and translated some myself, so I thank all who have made them available to provide so much learning and enjoyment about Japan and its past history.

Now I shall go and have a nice issa, and say goodbye from your thoughtful and long-winded flâneuse,

Izumi.

 
 

 

 
     
 
 
 
To fully understand my footsteps, please read me from the start.
 
Izumi's Diary Page 63
back                 next
 
 
to artsdoc home
to My Diary Introduction
to My News Page
to My Diary Pages Index
The Edo Ladies' Pinhole Camera Club
to diary page 1 | to diary page 2 | to diary page 3 | to diary page 4 | to diary page 5 | to diary page 6 | to diary page 7 | to diary page 8
to diary page 9 | to diary page 10 | to diary page 11 | to diary page 12 | to diary page 13 | to diary page 14 | to diary page 15 | to diary page 16
to diary page 17 | to diary page 18 | to diary page 19 | to diary page 20 | to diary page 21 | to diary page 22 | to diary page 23 | to diary page 24
to diary page 25 | to diary page 26 | to diary page 27 | to diary page 28 | to diary page 29 | to diary page 30 | to diary page 31 | to diary page 32
to diary page 33 | to diary page 34 | to diary page 35 | to diary page 36 | to diary page 37 | to diary page 38 | to diary page 39 | to diary page 40
to diary page 41 | to diary page 42 | to diary page 43 | to diary page 44 | to diary page 45 | to diary page 46 | to diary page 47 | to diary page 48
to diary page 49 | to diary page 50 | to diary page 51 | to diary page 52 | to diary page 53 | to diary page 54 | to diary page 55 | to diary page 56
to diary page 57 | to diary page 58 | to diary page 59 | to diary page 60 | to diary page 61 | to diary page 62 | to diary page 63 | to diary page 64
to diary page 65 | to diary page 66 | to diary page 67 | to diary page 68 | to diary page 69 | to diary page 70 | to diary page 71 | to diary page 72
to diary page 73 | to diary page 74 | to diary page 75 | to diary page 76 | to diary page 77 | to diary page 78 | to diary page 79 | to diary page 80
to diary page 81 | to diary page 82 | to diary page 83 | to diary page 84 | to diary page 85 | to diary page 86 | to diary page 87| to diary page 88