Some Prefer Nettles by Tanizaki Junichiro

Some Prefer Nettles by Tanizaki Junichiro

Author:Tanizaki, Junichiro [Tanizaki, Junichiro]
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
ISBN: 9784805306338
Publisher: Perseus Books Group
Published: 2011-12-19T16:00:00+00:00

"I WOULD join the song-thrush

And sing my way up the river

To meet spring in Miyako."

Her semisen tuned to the proper low mode, O-hisa was singing an old Osaka song. The Osaka folksong can be coarse and crude, bur this particular one the old man liked. It had in it a touch of Tokyo verve that perhaps appealed to him, son of Tokyo that he was, even now that he had "surrendered" to Osaka. Then too, as he pointed out, the samisen refrain that broke into the lyrics seemed ordinary enough at first, but if one listened for it one could find deep down the sound of the River Yodo.

"Held back by the winter wind,

By the clinging 'willow branches,

I walk, untrained to walk-

How many times now,

Up and back?—

This strand to Hachikenya.

Pressed close together all the night

We lie. What is it wakes us?

The crows at Amijima?

The bells at Kanzanji?"

Through the open second-floor window they could see the harbor in the gathering dusk, separated from them by only the waterfront road. A straits ferry, one would guess from its name, was preparing to put out to sea. It was a tiny ship, of no more than four or five hundred tons, and yet its stern almost brushed against the dock as its prow came round, so narrow was the harbor. Kaname sat on the veranda and looked out at the concrete breakwater, small and dainty as a piece of rock candy. At the end of it was an equally diminutive lighthouse, its light already burning even though the sea was still a pale evening gold. Two or three men were fishing at its base. The scene was hardly striking, but it had about it a certain air of the south that one does not find in the provinces around Tokyo. Kaname thought of how, twenty years before, it must have been, he had once visited a small town on the coast north of Tokyo. There had been a light on each of the two points at the harbor mouth, and the little harbor, its waterfront lined with pleasure houses, had struck him as in its way the very model of the old boatman's town. But in contrast with the decay of the one in the north, this southern harbor was gay, warm, full of the joy of life. Like most natives of Tokyo, Kaname rather tended to stay at home, and here on the veranda, cooling himself in a cotton summer kimono, it struck him as somewhat laughable that a trip across an arm of the Inland Sea to an island almost in Kobe harbor should seem a major expedition. He had not been especially enthusiastic when the old man had asked him to come along on this visit to the thirty-three holy places of Awaji. He foresaw that he would not find it soothing to have to watch the old man and O-hisa together, and in any case it seemed best not to risk making a nuisance of himself.

"Come, now. There's no need to be so bashful," the old man said.


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