At Karuizawa

I went to Karuizawa! So here is a surreal little Taisho 14 (1925) piece by Akutagawa called "At Karuizawa" (軽井沢で).

In a black horse the scenery is reflected.

Let us eat our morning bread with the China pink.

This gang of angels uses phonograph records for wings.

On the edge of town, a chestnut tree. Underneath it ink is spilt.

Scratch at the blue mountain. Bars and bars of soap will tumble out.

In the English paper wrap a pumpkin.

Someone is painting honey on that hotel.

Madame M. — On her tongue a butterfly is sleeping.

Mister F. — His forelock begs for alms.

Mister O. — That beard must be an ostrich feather.

Words of the poet S.M. — Indeed, the pampas ears are fur.

A certain parson's face — A navel!

A road that slips between the napkins and the lace.

The moon over Mount Usui; — On the moon, too, moss grows lightly.

The death of Madame H.; — The fog is like the ghost of France.

The horse-flies swarmed off around Mercury.

So loud that hammocks are felt in the brow.

The thunder hotter than pepper.

A mountain with a rock called "the Giant's Seat"; — One unblinking face shows.

That house has pink gums.

Garnish mutton with fern leaves.

Farewell. Town of accordions, farewell, my lyric age.

The bit about muttons and ferns is a play on words that doesn't translate: shida ("fern") is written with the usual Classical Chinese ateji 羊歯, "sheep's tooth."

Anyway, Karuizawa is still basically like that, although nowadays about 40% of the storefronts there are branches of either Choudumeya (sausage shop; name literally means "the Gut-Stuffery" [although, to be fair, chōzume ("stuffed guts") is a respectable old Japanese word for "sausages", so "the Sausage Shop" is a more reasonable if less entertaining translation]) or Atelier de fromage (guess).

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Leonardo Boiko:

> A certain parson's face



I just assumed "parson" was a clever translation for a type of shrine priest.


Not a typo! The original is 牧師 and Karuizawa has been notoriously full of churches ever since a Canadian missionary first "discovered" it and moved there in the Meiji period because it reminded him of Toronto. (I don't know if "parson" is quite the right English term given the fact that churches back then were unlikely to be truly independent, but I liked the country feel and the combination with "certain.")

Vilhelm S:

WWWJDIC suggests 牧師 【ぼくし】pastor; minister; clergyman; reverend.

Wikipedia says it specifically means a Protestant Christian clergyman.

Vilhelm S:

Ah, mine and Matt's comment crossed in the air. Sorry for the redundancy.


Yeah, 'pastor' is much more common in my (Presbyterian) experience for translating 牧師 into English.

'Parson' just reminds me of the snowman from "Winter Wonderland"...

"Someone is painting honey on that hotel" made me laugh, for reasons I cannot explain.


At the risk of ignoring the main text in favour of the footnotes, I laughed out loud at "The Gut-Stuffery".

腸詰め these days suggests Chinese sausages to me, but I guess there was a time when a stuffed gut was a stuffed gut, whatever its provenance.

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