Oku Station 13 - Shinobu


- Oku no Hosomichi - 奥の細道 - おくのほそ道
The Narrow Road to the Deep North -

. Oku no Hosomichi - 奥の細道 - Introduction .



- - - Station 13 - Shinobu no Sato 忍ぶの里 / 信夫 - - -

On the following morning I made my way to the village of Shinobu to look at the stone upon whose chequered face they used to dye a certain type of cloth called shinobu-zuri. I found the stone in the middle of a small village, half buried in the ground. According to the child who acted as a self-appointed guide, this stone was once on the top of a mountain, but the travellers who came to see it did so much harm to the crops that the farmers thought it a nuisance and thrust it down into the valley, where it rests now with its chequered face downward. I thought the story was not altogether unbelievable.

The busy hands
Of rice-planting girls,
Reminiscent somehow
Of the old dyeing technique.

Tr. by Nobuyuki Yuasa
source : terebess.hu/english


早苗とる手もとや昔しのぶ摺 - sanae toru temoto ya mukashi shinobuzuri


sanae toru temoto ya mukashi shinobuzuri

the pattern-rubbing stone

planting seedlings
with the hands—ancient patterns
from the fern of longing

Tr. Barnhill


. Kawara no In 河原院 源融 Minamoto no Toru . (822 – 895)

みちのく(陸奥)の しのぶもぢずり(忍ぶ 綟摺り)
誰ゆえに 乱れ染めにし 我ならなくに

Michinoku no shinobu mojizuri tare yue ni
midaren somenishi ware naranaku ni

As wholly confused
as cloth dyed in moss-fern design
from Michinoku
so distraught is my heart now
and for no one else but you.

Tr. Steven D. Carter

shinobu mojizuri
is a special cloth dyed in the region of the village
Shinobu gun Fukushima 福島県信夫郡.
Made from shinobugusa 忍ぶ草、hare's-foot fern, deersfoot fern
Davallia bullata and others
. Michinoku roads みちのく路 .


I long to find a path
to the depths of Mount Shinobu
that I might fathom
the secrets of
another’s heart

Tr. Shirane

Ise Monogatari


- quote
Shinobu Mottling Rock, Fukushima
6 km north-east from Fukushima City sits the village of Shinobu (present-day Mojizuri). Three seemingly unconnected objects - a large, moss-dappled rock, the Michinoku (Tohoku) kimono design of mottled ferns made famous in the Heian period (794 - 1185), and an impossible love story - have together made Shinobu a vastly recognized and esteemed location of utamakura. Utamakura is a place-name used in waka (traditional Japanese poetry) which, through alternative readings of the name's kanji (Chinese characters) or its associations with national histories and figures, can be used as an allusive tool towards sentiment and meaning within waka; an incredibly popular and admired poetic device which was employed even in everyday conversation at the Heian Kyoto Court.

In the 9th century, Minamoto no Toru (a high-ranking noble of the Heian Imperial Court in Kyoto) traveled to the "great north," Michinoku, which was at that time deemed an uncivilized land due to its distance from the shining capital. At some point, he passed through Shinobu, a village well-known by the Imperial Court for its unique production of a kimono design called Shinobu Mojizuri (fern mottle). It was not uncommon for high-ranking nobles to undertake vast journeys north for state affairs. And on these journeys, it wasn't completely unheard of to learn of nobles falling in love with villagers of little, or no, social status.

Unfortunately for Minamoto no Toru and the lady of Shinobu, he did just so. Staying with the lady's father and delaying his return to the capital for over a month, he was eventually called back to court and the separation was impossible to withstand for both of them. Minamoto no Toru did as all Heian courtiers in his day could do; he wrote a poem about it. And the lady of Shinobu took to her bed with grief, dying before the verse could reach her. The verse adopts the word 'shinobu' and its three potential readings in Japanese: the name of the village Shinobu; the type of fern found in abundance around the village, called shinobugusa; and the verb shinobu, "to love secretly." In just five lines, Minamoto no Toru encapsulates his sentiment, the history and relevance of the setting to his story, and appropriate similes for such a saddening poem in incredible subtlety and talent in his employment of utamakura.

Like the cloth printed
with ferns in far Shinobu
of the deep north —
if not for you
for whom would I dye my heart
with tangled love?

Minamoto no Toru (822 – 895)

Since this all occurred over twelve centuries ago, Shinobu has welcomed such admirers of its history and poetry as Basho Matsuo, who came to compose a haiku on the subject in his Oku no Hosomichi pilgrimage of Michinoku utamakura locations.


Deft hands that now pluck
seedlings, once you used to press
patterns from the stones.

Tr. Donald Keene

The mottling rock upon which the famous Michinoku kimono was mottled with fern is enshrined by an open gate. The two poems are also on the grounds, set in stone. All are surrounded by a wonderful view of Fukushima, the Kannon-Do Temple and Phoenix Pagoda, and a river also famous in traditional waka, the Abukumagawa.
- source : http://ja.japantourist.jp


source : HeartLand-Icho

mojizuri ishi 文字摺石 - 信夫文知摺石 mojizuri mottlilng stone, rock
shinobu mojizuri しのぶもじずり / 忍捩摺り/信夫捩摺り

The lower part of the stone has been used so often that it is all shining and the stone was once called kagami ishi 鏡石 mirror stone.

This famous rock is now located in a temple at the foot of the mountain.
in Shinobu village, Fukushima. It tells a sad love story of the Heian period and now a story of radioactive contamination after the accident in March 2013 . . .

bashooki ya mojizuri ishi wa josenchuu

Basho Memorial Day -
the Mojizuri Rock needs
to be decontaminated

Chinen Tetsuo 知念哲夫

. WKD : bashooki 芭蕉忌 Basho Memorial Day .

. Japan after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011 .


. Oku no Hosomichi - 奥の細道 - Introduction .