« 超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 141 大地震報道展示会 | トップページ | 超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 142 テレビ番組評 最近の出版事情関連 »

2011/06/05

Chojin's picking up the article on the earthquake in medieval Japanese literature

The following article is a part of English version of THE HOJOKI (TEN FOOT SQUARE HUT) written by Kamo no Chomei in Kamakura period, about 800 years ago.

The great earthquake:

[21] Not long after this (1185) there was a violent earthquake, causing unbelievable damage. Mountains crumbled, rivers were completely filled up, and waves from the sea inundated the land. The earth split and water gushed out. Boulders broke off in the mountains and tumbled into the valley. Ships were tossed around on the sea, and horses were unable to keep their footing on the roads. In the vicinity of Heian-kyo, temples, shrines, and towers were so damaged that not a single one was left in good condition. Some collapsed; others were turned upside down. Dust and ashes billowed up like smoke. The sound of the movement of the earth, and of the destruction of houses, was like thunder. People who were inside the houses might be crushed at once, but those who ran outside were faced by the cracks in the earth.
[21*] In that earthquake the only child of a samurai, a child of about six or seven, was innocently playing under the roof of a mud wall, making a toy house, when suddenly that wall collapsed, burying the child, crushing it so badly that it couldn't be recognized, both eyeballs having been popped out about three centimeters. It is impossible to express in words the pity I felt seeing the mother and father, crying and wailing in loud voices, holding that child in their arms. To see that not even a brave warrior could disguise the anguish in his eyes suffering the agony of his child's death, could not control this kind of natural lament, provoked my sympathy.
[22] The terrible shaking stopped after a short time, but then there were after-shocks. After that great earthquake, there might be twenty or thirty tremors in a single day. After ten days, then twenty days, they gradually came to be more widely spaced, probably four or five times in a day, then two or three times, then every other day, skipping two or three days--but there were still some aftershocks up to perhaps three months.
[23] Among the four great elements recognized by Buddhism, three--fire, water, and wind--are frequently associated with disasters, but earth is most often identified with stability. Still, in the Saiko era (540), I believe, there was an earthquake so severe that it damaged the neck of the Todaiji's Great Buddha so that the head fell off, and did unusual damage to many other things. But it was no match for the violence of the earthquake this time. Those who experienced this earthquake all talked about it that way at the time, that of all the miserable things in this world, it was the worst, seemed to be a thing of evil passions. But the days and months passed into years, and they came to deplore other things, so that you might go for a month now without meeting anyone talking about the earthquake.


--Medieval--KAMO NO CHOMEI (1153-1216)

Kamo no Chomei's An Account of My Hut is a long essay that, while coming out of very different circumstances, reminds one of Thoreau's Walden, but is interesting as both history and philosophy. The history is the history of Kyoto, or Heian-kyo, the capital city of Japan in what must be one of the most disasterous periods for any important city in history. Kamo no Chomei describes the Great Fire, the Whirlwind, the moving of the capital, the famine, and the earthquake, all while civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans is going on. In this chaos, he is denied the appointment as priest at the Kamo Shrine that he might have expected, and, with all these other experiences, this leads him to renounce the world in favor of a retreat into a Buddhism that is philosophically close to Thoreau's transcendentalism. The late Medieval period was a time of the develpment of several new sects of Buddhism in Japan--Shingon, Nichiren, Zen--but what Chomei preaches from his ten-foot hut is pretty fundamental--the world is a veil of tears and the wise man will turn his spirit to Nirvanah. I identify with the author strongly--if I were left alone I might arrange my affairs to live as simply as I could, too, enjoy what I could do with my own hands, and see with my own eyes (I tried to imitate Thoreau while I was still in my teens--but now would want my computer and VCR). At any rate, it is not hard to see his pattern of reaction to the catastrophes of life as pretty universal.

I will present him in his own words, which I have translated from a modern Japanese version of the essay, and present in what I would call a second-draft translation. (It still needs a lot of work, and, if it ever gets it, I'll replace this, perhaps a paragraph at a time, with the new translation--one of the advantages of publishing on the world wide web.)
from http://www.washburn.edu/reference/bridge24/Hojoki.html

« 超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 141 大地震報道展示会 | トップページ | 超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 142 テレビ番組評 最近の出版事情関連 »

コメント

コメントを書く

コメントは記事投稿者が公開するまで表示されません。

(ウェブ上には掲載しません)

トラックバック


この記事へのトラックバック一覧です: Chojin's picking up the article on the earthquake in medieval Japanese literature:

« 超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 141 大地震報道展示会 | トップページ | 超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 142 テレビ番組評 最近の出版事情関連 »

2020年8月
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31