SECTION 7

Wednesday, Hiromi and Naoko and Tom and I all got on a high-speed ferry and took a 45-minute swim to Hiroshima. I thought I knew something about what happened there but found it numbing. It's the saddest place I have ever been. The artifacts on display at Peace Park museum are overpowering to such a degree that one remains speechless. I am grateful that we did not stay any longer, although I wanted to.

in front of Peace Park

~~ ~~

I am grateful that Hiromi and Naoko had decided to go straight to Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima. This is an ancient Shinto shrine, and I would guess that its red gate standing out in the Inland Sea is one of the most recognizable symbols of Japan. Itsukushima is a small island not far from the city of Hiroshima. Deer roam free, sniffing for handouts from the tourists. Some of these deer practiced a diversionary tactic on me by playfully accosting Tomoyuki. The minute I chuckled at Tomoyuki's situation, a bigger deer came up behind me and stuck its nose in my bag. All he got was a brochure for Peace Park. I tried to get it off him, but he had slobbered all over it and I could not get a good hold. Tomoyuki thought the whole thing was hilarious.

Itsukushima deer
more experienced with tourists
than tourists with deer

at Ujina (Hiroshima) Port

We returned to Matsuyama after dark, and Hiromi installed me in a room at the Matsuyama Youth Hostel, near downtown Matsuyama.

In the morning, my friend Nanae accompanied me to Matsuyama Castle. We road a gondola most of the way up the mountain, then traipsed around the grounds and into the main building, and ultimately to the very top of the castle, from which one gets a view of an island or two in the Inland Sea, and the whole of the city spread out below. Matsuyama is crowded. Nanae informed me that the straight line of greenery amid all the civilization down below was the Ishite River, which had been diverted long before modern times, by hand.

what luck
high up in Matsuyama castle
a beautiful woman

We came down off the mountain in a ski lift, during drizzle that skirted the typhoon responsible for the cancellation of cormorant fishing we originally planned to see the previous night. The wheels were in motion, though. Nanae delivered me back to the hostel, safe and sound, wheretwo members of Shiki team gave me enough time to change my shirt before taking me off to visit Mr. Kiyomatsu Higa, the president of Matsuyama University, who presented me with a crystal paperweight. After the visit with Mr. Higa, Professor Sumioka showed me the computer room in which the machines that handle the Shiki mailing lists reside. The original machine, now retired, is named Mikan. I asked Kimiyo if I had done a decent job on behalf of Shiki team, with an eye toward future support from Matsuyama University for the work of Shiki team. She assured me that even if I hadn't, she would have used her interpreting skill to make sure that I did.

Sumioka, Kim, Tim, Higa


On the way to my next appointment, Kimiyo Tanaka handed me a copy of the Matsuyama Declaration, a moderately lengthy document so newly printed the ink was literally not yet dry, which I was supposed to read in the few minutes it would take to drive a few blocks across town. I spent fifteen or twenty minutes trying to seem like the child of intelligent parents in conversation with Mr. Hidetoshi Nishimura, one of three governors of Ehime Prefecture, vice-governor in charge of education and foreign affairs, I think, who speaks English, thus denying me the cushion of Kimiyo's favorable interpretation. Mr. Nishimura presented me with a book containing his own haiku, signing it to me in English. His handwriting is better than mine. During the conversation, I wrestled with several things in my own mind, one being that I would be hard-pressed to find any government official of Mr. Nishimura's stature accomplished at writing poetry in my own country. Another was the intensity with which this same government official seemed interested in promoting haiku beyond his own sphere of influence. I think the simplest way of seeming intelligent with government officials may be to let them do most of the talking.


When I got back to the hostel, the manager used practicable sign language to inform me that the air-conditioner in my room was out of order. My room had an enclosed balcony looking out on the courts of some kind of tennis club. A man about my age was playing a man about half his age.

humid evening~
the one-armed tennis player
scores

night tennis~
a pumpkin vine
creeping toward the front row

summer evening~
the balcony spider
abides my presence

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