2007-06-11

How I knew that Nosongdang's Record of the Journey to Japan would be worth reading

Early in his journey, Nosongdang, a.k.a. Song Hui-Gyeong (宋希璟/송희경), passes through Anpyeong. The town's name is written 安平; the kanji mean, roughly, "safe and peaceful". On this hinges the comment that made me decide to pick up the book:

安平駅を過ぐ。石路崎嶇として馬屢驚く。何為此の駅を安平と号するや。名実相殊なり科り得難し。

Pass Anpyeong station. Mountain road is stony and dangerous; horses keep freaking out. Why do they call this station "safe and peaceful" anyway? The mismatch between name and reality boggles the mind.

You cannot go wrong with a bitchy 15th-century travelogue, especially one that crosses national borders. I can't wait until he hits Japan.

Popularity factor: 7

Matt:

Oh: Original Chinese, for completists...

過安平驛 石路崎嶇馬屢驚 何為此驛號安平 名實相殊難科得


Matt:

Anonymous e-mailer scolds me for not including the last line of the poem! It is "倚欄回首一川明" (roughly "lean over the railing and look back and forth -- the great (whole?) river shines".)


Anonymous:

Pacific Ocean.


Matt:

You mean he's looking at the ocean? Nah, he's still up near Seoul according to the map in the book, following the Han River southeast.

Anonymous:

No, I mean mismatch between name and reality. It's not very pacific. Good thing I didn't type "Greenland".


Matt:

On the other hand even I might have got it then.


Anonymous:

I never realized Pacific was pacific until I read it somewhere.

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