There are numerous famous places that are mentioned in The Ise Stories. Mount Asama is a volcano and it is one of the mountains that were included in the poems of The Ise Stories. It is present in the eighth episode, 浅間の嶽, which means “The Peak of Mount Asama”. In this episode, the author wrote that the view of the smoke that was ascending from the Mount Asama encouraged the poet to compose the poem. This poem could be interpreted in different ways and one type of interpretations is that the poem was composed because the poet was amazed at the sight of the Mount Asama. Perhaps the poet was wondering if the people who were looking at Mount Asama would be as amazed or find it as mysterious as he did.
Maps of Mount Asama:
In The Ise Stories, the author mentioned that the Mount of Asama is located in Shinano Province 信濃の国. However, Shinano Province is called Nagano Province 長野県 in the present day. There has been a shift between the names of the provinces.
In addition to The Ise Stories, the presence of Mount Asama is also apparent in other literary pieces including Basho’s work titled 更科紀行. Mount Asama is mentioned in the last phrase, which is “吹き飛ばす石も浅間の野分かな”. In the Meiji Period which was around 200 years later, Shimazaki Tōson also mentioned Mount Asama in his literary work, A Poem on a Traveler’s sorrow beside the Chikuma River (千曲川旅情の歌), in which he wrote the following passage: “暮れ行けば浅間も見えず歌哀し佐久の草笛歌哀し”.
The Ise Stories. Trans. Joshua S. Mostow, Royall Tyler. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2010.
Contributor: Alice Jin (Sheng Hui)
(Edited by Elle Marsh)