Monday, February 15, 2016


(Originally presented as a 2015 Christmas Party Speech on Dec 11, 2015)

Ever been to Tango Land or Tango Country? I do not mean that fancy Tango for two. Tango Province located north of Kyoto. This Tango is paired with Tamba. You have heard about Tamba Kingdom rivaling Yamato Kingdom. Tango branched out of Tamba in later years retains the same legendary traditions of Tamba.

My topic tonight is Amanohashidate, Bridge to Heaven. I'll call it AHD hereafter, Okay?

AHD, one of the Japan's three scenic views is in Tango.

(#60 of the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka Poems by One Hundred Poets)

"Oeyama Ikunono-michiwa Tokeredo
mada Fumimo-sezu Amano-Hashidate"

(How could my mother help me write this poem?
I have neither been to Oe Mountain nor Ikuno
nor have any letters come from her in a place so
far away it's called— The Bridge to Heaven.)

Beautiful Tanka! This Tanka has got quite a story. The poetess is Koshikibu no Naishi. She sang the poem when she was fifteen years old. She is the daughter of the famous poetess Izumi Shikibu, the author of great women’s journal ‘Pillow Book’.

The daughter was often the target of envy by the community, gossiping that perhaps her mother was privately helping her daughter. One day, Koshikibu was the guest of Fujiwara’s Tanka party and she was bullied by one of the Fujiwara’s princes “Don’t you need mother’s help?” Koshikibu answered "mother had been away in Tango Land and hadn’t corresponded lately. The steep mountain paths of Mt. Oe blocking my trip and I haven’t set my foot in AHD.

Alas, this poetess passed away young and left us with only a few songs. Her name, however, is eternally remembered with the Tanka.

I personally was at AHD last Monday. I cleared Mt. Oe by rapid express through the tunnel. I rented a bicycle and made a round cycling trip, one way, three kilometers each. As you know, it’s a unique narrow stretch of sandbars inside Aso Sea, no automobiles or motorcycles allowed. It’s December, during off-season. I enjoyed my cycling along the shore and was rewarded with great views and a great exercise.

I found a small museum near JR AHD Station. I got fully educated. The present-day sandbar was formed around 1500. The formation of the unique sandbars was the result of two colliding currents - the coastal current of Aso Sea and the Noda River flowing out into the Aso Sea. Gravel was carried in and deposited on the seabed.

The local government and volunteer groups are coping now with how to keep the beauty for the future, including measures against wilt disease, typhoon risks and damages. I saw a display of fallen pines caused by typhoons. Some hundreds of pine fell a few years ago.

If you haven’t been to Tango, I encourage you to go. Besides AHD, Tango country has many more exciting things including the Legendary Demons subdued by Minamoto Yorimitsu and his four lieutenants, the sad orphan slave story of brother and sister Anju and Zushio, the year 1600 Sekigahara War time siege, the story of Tanabe Castle involving Yusai Hosokawa and Hosokawa Garacia.

The main objective of my trip was to visit the newly refurbished Maizuru Repatriation Memorial Museum for my blog post. Thank you for listening.

1 comment:

Judith said...

Thanks for this information, Rio.. I'm going try to visit Amanohashidate--off season. Judith