Treasured Encounters

My dreams take me back
To a lonely village at the foot of a mountain
Jumpseeds swaying in the breeze
Grass crickets chirping constantly
A quiet woodland path in the early afternoon
(From Wasuregusa ni yosu by Michizo Tachihara)

These are the opening lines of the poem 哲ochi no omoi ni (Dreams Go On) in the collection titled Wasuregusa ni yosu (On the Subject of Orange Daylilies) by Michizo Tachihara. This poem was included in my Japanese language textbook when I was in the second year of senior high school. It moved me a lot then, and I became a fan of Tachihara. At that time I had decided to go to Tokyo and study at night school. Although I was still living in the countryside, I could imagine how I would feel for my hometown after I moved to the big city.

Once, after coming up to Tokyo, I made a trip to the Shinshu region, and I realized that it must have been there that Tachihara had envisioned the woodland path described in his poem. In Oita Prefecture, where I am from, the woodland paths are lined by cedar trees. There are many broad-leaf trees, but no deciduous trees at all. In Kirigamine Highland, where I was visiting as a company trip, there were mizuhikiso (jumpseed) flowers too, and a fresh breeze was blowing. That made the foliage swaying, then the whiteness on the undersides of the leaves appeared just like waves crashing down from the sea. The sight stopped me in my tracks.

When I read the poem, I hadn稚 understood about deciduous trees. So when I visited Shinshu in the fall, I was amazed by the colorful scenery there. From high in the mountains down to the woodland paths, the deciduous trees had changed color and the whole scenery was golden.

Still only 19 years of age, I was studying at night and working at a rust-prevention factory in Hatanodai in Tokyo痴 Shinagawa-ku during the day. I often thought about my hometown. In Tokyo the winter daphnes were blossoming in March. Around that time I sent a postcard to my father expressing my determination to make a go of it in Tokyo: 的n my distant hometown, spring has arrived. Here up north, the winter daphnes are blooming.

At the rust-prevention factory, a young university student came to work for a month in the summer vacation. Since we were the same age, we talked a lot together and soon became friends. At one point, he said to me, 的t痴 not very good for you here and you should change your occupation. Do you want to find a different job? I can have a word with my father if you like. I agreed, and the next morning he said, 溺y father said it would be okay. The next day my new job was decided. I was to work in the warehouse of a textbook company related to Dai Nippon Printing. When I went to the company, I was amazed to be met by the vice-president there. I felt so grateful to my friend痴 father for having put in a good word for me so high up. A few days later I visited my friend痴 parents to express my appreciation and again was surprised by their warm greeting and the wonderful meal they gave me.

Subsequently, as I had planned in my younger days, I worked in Tokyo痴 Chiyoda-ku and studied law at Senshu University, which was only a three-minute walk from my workplace. Thanks to meeting my friend, the situation had changed completely, and I started out on a new life. Since it was a textbook company, there were a lot of young literary enthusiasts there. Invited to join their circle, I also took part in the Nihon Miraiha futurist movement. The first meeting that I went to was organized by someone who wrote a half-page column on poetry for the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. When I turned up, he showed me my seat, which was right next to his.

My new life in Tokyo started in this way, supported by an atmosphere and people befitting the capital of Japan. I have never forgotten my feeling of appreciation to the people I have met and who have helped me. Each encounter has helped me to grow, and I am full of gratitude.

Even today, though, I am still always dreaming about my hometown . . . .