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Shirahebizuka?

In the hills at the back there was a solitary pond covered with duckweed, known as the Yasutamizawa. There was a minute island in the pond and on it stood the Shirahebizuka, a five-storied stone tower. The surrounding morning air was noisy with the twittering of birds.” (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, p. 37)

This past weekend I began reading Yukio Mishima’s famous book for the first time (subsequent review posted here). I came upon the above passage, and as the picture of the scene arose in my mind while reading I realized that I had actually photographed it last year. I dug through my pictures to find the above. It seems nothing has changed in the subsequent 60 years.

Of course, when I took the picture I had no idea what I was taking a picture of. In fact, I probably only took the photograph because of the crane (on the log on the right). I’m glad that the island and stone tower made it into the photo though.

If you plan to visit the golden pavilion (kinkakuji or 金閣寺) on a trip to Kyoto I would strongly suggest you read this book first. It will make your experience there far more meaningful.

The pond seems to be called anmintaku (安眠沢) even though the translator, Ivan Morris, used an alternative reading of the characters (yasutamizawa). The stone tower also has a different reading of hakujanotsuka (白蛇ノ塚). Ivan Morris used the kun reading of the kanji to come up with shirahebizuka.

Here is another scene from the book.

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