Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One Fine Day

This past Labor Day, Toni and I had a really wonderful time being immersed in Japanese culture. My sister Sarah, in her loving kindness, brought back some weekend passes to the Japanese festival at the Botanical Gardens. I found ourselves enjoying the change of scenery; our experiences drifted far east toward a country completely alien to ours.

And it was beautiful.

Anyways, after looking at most of the craft stalls and listening to the live taiko drum ensemble, we strolled back to the main entrance building to see a one hour lecture. I do not recall the speakers name, but she was a Japanese anthropologist. She gave a lot of autobiographical information, primarily focused on the fact that she studied in Kyoto for many years. Then, the lecture transitioned from discussing Japanese geisha to the differences between traditional dress and modern fashion. But, soon after, she began to discuss the many different influences of Japanese culture. She said something along the lines of:

"The Japanese are simple people and live life differently from many western nations. They maintain their focus on the circumstances instead of living in the past." She then started to comment on the different meanings in the conception of the common cherry tree in our cultures. And as if by some oracular event, she read a Matsuo Bashō haiku. It was a mesmerizing experience. The example she used was so perfect and proved her point. Regrettably, I am disappointed to say that I do not remember the exact poem. All I recall is that it was very profound to me.

Here are some of his haikus:

Occasional clouds
One gets a rest
From moon-viewing.

In the Cicada's cry
There's no sign that can foretell
How soon it must die.

Lightening -
Heron's cry
Stabs the darkness.

On my travels, stricken—
my dreams over the dry land
go on roving.

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