Tuesday, October 11, 2005


One of the iconic sights of Japanese autumn are hillsides covered in silvery expanses of susuki grass (Japanese pampas). For hundreds of years, poets have been conjuring images of susuki fields whispering under the harvest moon.

But all is not well in susuki's wild gardens. Almost everywhere you see it nowadays, it is struggling with a foreign interloper called Seitaka-awadachi-sou (tall foam-whipping plant), which found its way into Japan from America during the last century and likes exactly the same conditions.

Just one of the poems featuring susuki:

Shinshu no
Susuki ni hashiru
Nami no Kage

It was written by Kato Shuson in 1943 for a friend who was going off to fight in the increasingly desperate looking Second World War.

Late autumn,
wind blows through susuki grass,
like the shade of waves.

(Rights reserved by Ark on the second pic)


Anonymous said...

Strange,the poet sounds good when I hear it in English.(I am Japanese)

Anonymous said...

Wasn't that what the matsuri we went to see was all about? Susuki and harvest moons

Nonjatta said...

I think so. And the Noh drama (Izutsu) I described below featured susuki grass as the thing the village woman was dressing the graves with (see the Izutsu link to see what I am talking about.)

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