Dissertation Part 6: Conclusion


(It goes without saying that this work is my own. It is copyrighted both to myself and to SOAS University; any personal use of this material must be authorised by myself first. Thanks.)



In the late 17th century, Haiku poet Matsuo Basho took up his stick and followed Saigyo’s footsteps through Michinoku. He tells us in his haibun work Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Interior) that at Sanekata’s grave he found no pampas grasses, nor the hanagasumi (iris flowers) which, poetry tells us, once adorned Asakayama.1 At Tohoku’s utamakura sites today however, you can witness the ‘correct’ keepsakes once allotted to their place-names by waka, as people have replaced them: the traces of poetry are still embedded in the landscape, and are still a source of tourism. It has been said that “the wilderness picture … casts a retrospective and nostalgic aesthetic in the landscape art that forgets the trauma of history”,2 and looking at Michinoku / Tohoku today, it is easy to agree. I believe this investigation has laid the groundwork in exploring the significance of Michinoku in the early pre-modern Japanese process of state-building; as such, I hope it may inspire further enquiry, and further answers.


Figure 4.1 Replanting iris flowers at Asakayama, Fukushima-ken: 2013 (photo taken by the author)


1 Donald Keene (trans.), 1996. The Narrow Road to Oku. USA: Kodansha International Ltd.

2Bardo, Wilderness, p. 310


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