A Samurai’s Pink House
by Sonia Saikaley
One of my favourite places in Japan was Matsushima where Matsuo Basho travelled. As I took steps along the pathways and bridges of Matsushima, I imagined Basho walking in these areas. It was quite a beautiful and
magical place with such history and mystery. I went to hot springs, to towns where kokeshi dolls were made, to a castle town with a Samurai’s residence, to shrines and temples. (Above Right: Woodblock print depicting scenic view of Matsushima. Attributed to Yoshu Chikanobu 1898).
The rape of the female samurai continues in “Shielded Memories” where she is forced to bear children to the man she hates, forced to give her body away to his children – another form of sexual control the man maintains over her – passing on that aggressive control to her children. They maintain control over the woman preventing her from expressing her sorrow and frustration. However, due to the typhoon rains, the woman is finally able to cry freely – the typhoon rains a mask for her real tears. (Above Left: 18th century Japanese Painting).
In a way A Sumurai’s Pink House is Sonia Saikaley dancing her own version of the Bon Odori Dance, where she dances to a connection with her spiritual ancestor Basho, who shares her own sense of loneliness. (Left: Sonia Saikaley belly dancing with her students in the JET Program. Copyright granted by Sonia Saikaley).
Basho’s empathy for the speaker of the poem in “Pink Moonlight” can be traced back to the poem “Grief” where Basho tries to reconnect with his mother, who has been dead for the past four years (Left: painting of Basho attributed to Hokusaii. Public Domain).
Basho has a memory of himself and his mother when he was just a boy and both in the family kitchen. Mother and son flatten the dough with their own bare feet as they laugh their own mother-son
language. His mother then gives him raw udon to eat. Instead of a samurai sword as the symbol of their honor for one another it is the Japanese pasta udon that is the symbol of the honor between mother and son. (Right: Buddhist monk making udon with his feet.)