Food for thought:

“There are a great number of poetic place names people have handed down to us as sung of in poems since long ago. However, as mountains collapse, rivers shift, and paths are renewed, stones are buried and hidden in the ground and trees age and are replaced by young ones, the passage of time and the changing world making me see, so far, only uncertain traces of them. But now, finally, here was an indubitable monument from a thousand years ago, which, right in front of my eyes, allowed me to contemplate the minds of ancient people.” 

(Satō, Bashō’s Narrow Road, 75)

For this assignment you will be researching “famous places” (meisho) or “pillow words” (utamakura), in other words, locations that would have brought to mind various literary associations in the minds of travelers.

You have now read various examples of travel literature depicting various locations along a journey. For travelers who wrote about their journeys, each site would have been associated with set images, natural scenery, topography, past poetry, etc.

Select one place in Japan and write about the site and its associations in paragraphs (not in numbers answering the questions below). Use images and don’t forget to cite your sources. Include a list of references at the end.

Here is what you are expected to cover:

  1. Pick a location from a literary work, give the source and provide the example.
  2. Show where it is on a map of your choice (provide an image).
  3. Explain if the location today is different from the literary example (e.g., it may have been located in an old province, in which case, give us the province name and any other relevant information).
  4. Research any literary associations with the site.
  5. Demonstrate how those associations can be seen in the example (if this is the case).
  6. Feel free to add any other interesting aspects of what you discover.
  7. If you are stuck, write to Christina.Laffin@ubc.ca! And remember to send a copy of the text to Christina.
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