Skip to content

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

Category Archives: japan

ikuta.jpgHere on the soils of Kobe, Dou-jou retells her story. In the cool autumn breeze, she remembers Kumagae Yoshitsune who slained the 16 year old samurai Atsumori. This was the legendary tale of violence and war – yet offering a glimpse to a single possibility – of compassion. An honest account of humanity – of terror – surely not a justification to violence – but of man’s constant failure to interact with dou-jou. There are similar stories elsewhere.

Kumagae remembered his own son. Wept and offered prayers for Atsumori. It marked the beginning of his journey to solitary contemplation.

 

Reading from Heike Monogatari:

 

祗園精舎の鐘の声、諸行無常の響きあり。
娑羅双樹の花の色、盛者必衰の理をあらわす。
おごれる人も久しからず、唯春の夜の夢のごとし。
たけき者も遂にはほろびぬ、偏に風の前の塵に同じ。

The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.

snapshot-2007-11-11-13-42-21.jpg

The beautiful Kyoto – autumn and the Grand Kabuki.

Housed in Kyoto Kaikan, the Kabuki theather is a small outfit. But the audience were all excited. The lady next to me was impressed that a young guy like me was found at the queue and it didn’t take much to understand why. I was amidst visitors like her, who has aged as much as my sofubo have. I told her I don’t understand nihon-go. Still, she was relentless. She was probably telling me that young Japanese now no longer come for Kabukis. “Maybe they are busy….” I suggested. She went on…..I nodded most of the time, understanding very little of what she had to say.

kabuki.jpg The lady made more sense to me than Kabuki did, for obvious reasons, coupled with kabuki’s usual sense of sacrificing drama and plot in favor of showing off the actor’s talents, totally unhelpful for the mind that seeks to make sense in terms of plot continuity. The Japan Times yesterday carried this story: Japanese in their 30’s are losing the plot. Didn’t take too long for me to assimilate I suppose. Perhaps there’s no plot in the first place, or is there?

“It is hard to be an individual in Japan”
Haruki Murakami

I’ve finally hopped onto a bullet train paying an exorbitant fare. Boarded the Shinkansen at Okuyama, conjecturing my way out of Sakaide, from which the now famous Oka-sen Udon originated, to Kyoto, the birthplace of Haruki Murakami. Trust me, Japan’s complex train line is a tough challenge when you speak little Japanese and all alone in the city.

snapshot-2007-11-11-21-42-42.jpg

I’m off now to roam the city as I was told last night that Osaka is the home to the powerful Yakuza.