5 Ohara Anna
I took a girl to do pottery, she was a better pupil than I’d imagined she would be.
The pottery wheel spins
While next to me
You lift a bowl into being.
During the Tokugawa period, “strict discipline and hedonistic abandon” existed side-by-side, one perhaps because of the other (Inouye 70). By caging the public intellectual selves of those beneath the ruling class (in terms of political representation, etc), the people’s relationship with evanescence and their bodies necessarily shifted. Momokawa Takahito, in exploring mono no aware says: “the inner dimension reached a state in which it was forced into a habitual compliance with external activity” (Takahito, 6). In focusing completely on pleasures of the body (food, sex, drink, performance), the disenfranchised masses fed their external selves and drove themselves into a distracted frenzy. In Saikaku’s The Women Who Spent Her Life In Love, the woman at the end of her days experiences the spiritual and emotional clarity that she had been obscuring with her constant sexual exploits: “Though the name lingers, the form vanishes; bones turn to ashes, lost in the grassy swamp.” (Saikaku, 217). In the end of her days, as her body fails her, she can no longer avoid her inner self; she cannot drown out her spiritual and intellectual self. It is all too apparent that people still find respite from the complexities of self-understanding in sensory distractions: what to eat, drink, watch, dress up with—our bodies are the center of our lives, it is much easier than confronting what it houses.