Heron in a Tokyo Park
HAIKU FOR SAGIMUSUME
A poem by Yuri Kageyama
Dance from white to red
A ghostly bride mirrored in snow
Killed by love, she still lives
I saw Kikunosuke perform the Kabuki dance “Heron Maiden.”
I’ve seen the dance by Tamasaburo many times, but this version was special, perhaps because his subdued though utterly elegant interpretation so perfectly highlighted the beauty of the story and the music, or perhaps just because a garden near where I live, Hamarikyu, has herons.
Now, I know they are so still, perched on a rock with their crooked necks, as though they know but don’t care they are forming a perfect picture for an artist, so intensely focused, ruthless in their silence and stillness.
What a bird it is _ and what an image, forlorn and fantastic at once, to depict the love of a Japanese woman.
It is not necessary to have seen herons every day or be a Japanese woman to appreciate this gorgeous theater piece.
But it helps.
And I thank the god of poetry for giving me the gift that allows me to witness how this great Japanese dance and the humble dignity of the heron can transcend the finitude and pettiness of society.
Heron in a Tokyo Garden.
YASUNARI KAWABATA’S ROOM
a poem by Yuri Kageyama
The soft light flickers even in daylight on moss, ferns and rocks, and a well trickles drops into a circular pool of peace, beyond the tiny shoji window, where he used to sit, smile and pick on kaiseki dishes with friends like Yukio Mishima and Yae, the head maid of the ryokan inn, talking about nothing and everything, that moonlit space, like a dream remembered at midnight. He wrote only after everyone left and went to sleep. In a silence that is his only. So intense he feels numb. And he wrote like he bled, effortless but draining. He only needed one night. To get away and soak in that special space, a fantasy complete with the passing of the seasons, knowing of the right word and the shock of an ancient doll’s face, so very similar to that place in his mind and soul and his writing. No one raises his or her voice. Everyone is frivolous, fragile, forgetful. Tea is bitter-sweet foam, served with a pungent pastry. He wrote. He could write. And the publisher found his manuscript done, always, outside the door in the morning.
Yasunari Kawabata’s room at a Kyoto inn