-･- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -･- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.
I visited Yunishigawa (湯yu: hot water, 西nishi: West, and 川gawa: liver) with my friends and stayed there 2 nights from last Tuesday. I really love the place. I’d like to introduce this Xanadu to you in several batches. This time I’ll write about its historical background.
Yunishigawa located in a mountainous area in Tochigi Prefectures is one of popular hot spring resorts in North Kanto. It has a unique and distinctive history. The locals believe their ancestor is fleeing Heike warrior. “Heike“ or “Taira clan” was major samurai clan whose ancestors were Emperors. The clan had once been at the height of its prosperity, but it was destroyed by Genpei War (1180-85) with another clan. It is said that after the last battle, Heike warriors and families fled in disarray to shake off their pursuers and settled in deep in the mountains. We call this story the legend of fleeing Heike warrior, and there are many villages whose residents claim to be descendants of Heike in various regions of Japan. The legend sounds possible, but no one knows which village is genuine or not.
It was first time for me to visit the legendary place, and I was deeply impressed by the locals claiming a family lineage stretching back to Heike. They have followed in a long line of Heike’ s culture and way of living. For example, even now they don’t fly “carp streamers” since they hear that their ancestors were found by pursuers because of carp streamers, which were put up in mountain retreats in the late twelfth century.
The word of Heike reminds me of the opening lines of “The Tale of the Heike”, which tells the story of the rise to glory and eventual downfall of the clan. Its theme is based on the Buddhist concept that the proud will surely be destroyed. I liked these lines in my high school days even though I was a typical teenager obsessed with a boyfriend and MTV. I’ll introduce them in Japanese and English.
The sound of the Gion Shoja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sara flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline.
The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.
Translated by McCullough H. C. (1988). The Tale of the Heike. (pp. 23). Stanford CA : Stanford University Press.
I checked several English versions, and this is best of them.
I’ll write about a hot spring inns where I stayed nest time!