Kyoto, part 1. Photos & text by Nancy Stout

Dear Shaded Viewers,

I went to Rakushisha because it is a cottage favored especially by Basho, the famous haiku poet. He stayed there in 1689 and 1691. On his second visit, he remained at the cottage from April 18th to May 5th – a long time for a wandering monk whose inspiration as a poet, and his Zen practice was nurtured and sustained by ‘being on the road’ – and wrote there the Saga Nikki. This is represented by the monk’s hat and straw raincoat that hangs outside the door. The cottage is located in the western hills of Kyoto, in an area called Arashiyama (Stormy Mountain). The place is still a bit in the country, accessed by a path, filled with fresh air and birdsong. Basho’s last visit was in 1694, only four months before he died.  One of his haiku’s goes: Even in Kyoto/how I long for Kyoto/when the cuckoo sings.                  


The owner of the cottage was a poet, Mukai Kyorai, who depended on the forty persimmon trees in his garden. One autumn, so the story goes, the trees were heavy with fruit and he arranged to sell his crop. But, on the night before they were to be picked, there was a huge storm. In the morning, not a single persimmon was left to be harvested. Rather than being devastated by his loss, it brought him insight, enlightenment: to honor this experience, he renamed the beautiful little house Rakushisha, The Cottage of the Fallen Persimmons.




Glenn Belverio

Glenn Belverio is a writer and New Yorker. He has been reporting for ASVOF since 2005 and currently works at The Museum of Modern Art as the Content Manager for MoMA Design Store.