I am on a charter bus that is behind schedule going to Boston from New York; it is nighttime and I can’t really tell where I am through the bus windows.
reflecting on the Charles.
My destination nears.
This week’s readings address the balance between evanescence and form in Japanese culture. In the readings, we learn that the cicada shell “characterizes the world as perceived by the ancient Japanese. The cicada-shell world is understood as being empty, frail, and quickly passing” (Inouye 19). I grew up in the Midwest, so cicada shells are something very commonplace to me. However, to think of a cicada shell within the context of Japanese culture is very humbling. Furthermore, I was intrigued by how Buddhism affected Japanese culture, in that “It balanced Confucian form with an equally insistent appreciation of change” (Inouye 18). While this duality is not unfamiliar to me, it is interesting to see how these concepts have influenced Japanese poetry. As I discover more about the complexity and depth of Japanese symbols, I feel that I am already learning to appreciate the passing of seasons in a new, more personal way inspired by the early Japanese who “took it for granted that there existed a continuity and correspondence between the capriciousness of human life and the swift change of the four seasons” (Kitagawa 48).