“…All in sea or sky is tint rather than color, and tint vapor-toned…Before me the fair vast lake sleeps, softly luminous, far-ringed with chains of blue volcanic hills shaped like a sierra. On my right, at its eastern end, the most ancient quarter of the city spreads its roofs of blue-gray tile … The deeper waters of the lake, far away, take a tender violet indescribable, and the silhouette of the pine-shadowed island seems to float in that sea of soft sweet color.” - Koizumi Yakumo
A weekend visit of a friend gave me a reason to visit the castle five minutes from my house. One of the joys of living here is my regular stroll or bike ride past the castle grounds on my way to work. I often let my imagination drift to picture my neighbourhood as they must have looked in the Edo period, when samurai resided along the moat and merchant shops sprang up along streets built narrow and crooked to discourage attackers. This castle was never attacked, and its greatest threat came in the Meiji era, when the city itself threatened to pull it down. A group of wealthy townsmen united to buy the keep and save it from destruction. The lower turrets have since been rebuilt, and the park around the castle is a popular place for picnicking and viewing cherry blossoms in the spring.
October here is celebrated with a festival, the Water Lamp Festival, along the moat and roads surrounding the castle. The area near the castle, picturesque during the day, becomes otherworldly at night, when lamps lining the moat are lit with flickering candles. The tour boats offer night tours, and the view of the lights from the water is lovely. In October, the nights are still warm, so many people come out to enjoy a stroll and perhaps eat something steaming hot from one of the food stalls.
among the many
walk alone – breathe a small wish
for the gods to hear
To the west are the sunshine hills, the fields of ripening rice, the ancient god-places. Crossing serpentine rivers, shall we wander in lands as old as myth? in the shining sun, should we fear the demons’ wagging tongues? Where else will streams carry to us the gifts of tea and sweets? The coming of autumn is golden.