A Stroll Through Literature: Mishima Yukio's "Hashizukushi"

A Stroll Through Literature: Mishima Yukio's "Hashizukushi"

Translated by Andy PARK

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 We headed for the setting of Mishima Yukio's novel "Hashizukushi" for our 'stroll through literature'. Although the actual initial setting of the novel is Shinbashi,we set off from the lion infront of Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza. Not wanting to walk too far,we like Koyumi, stopped off in the Tenryu gyoza restaurant on the way. At midday in the middle of a 'stroll through literature' you wouldn't be expected to be stopped by a policeman, but on Irifunabashi one did, and asked us where we were heading.
 Due maybe to the waterway being filled in, there was no trace of the sixth bridge Sakaibashi; and near St.Luke's car park, we came across an information plaque that read "Tsukiji Edo Bay Walk" . Looking at the map of old Edo on the plaque really brought home the changes in the neighbourhood since the modernisation of Japan.

{The following exerts are taken from "Hashizukushi" by Mishima Yukio}

 Koyumi was the guide and the four left for Showa Dori under the light of the moon. In a taxi cab company's car park moonlight washed over the numerous black painted bodies of the cars that had been worked all day. The sound of insects could be heard from beneath them.
 Traffic still plied up and down Showa Dori. The city was already fast asleep making the noise of the traffic and scooters appear isolated and remote, not mingling with the usual sounds of the city. A solitary sound.
 Floating under the moon wispy clouds reached down to other clouds enveloping the horizon below. The moon was brilliantly clear. Before too long the coming and going of the traffic came to an end and all that could be heard were the intimate footsteps of the four's geta floating upwards to the hard pale face of the moon.



 The four turned right onto Showa Dori at the junction of one and two chome in Higashi Ginza. Between the buildings only street lamps shone,like water falling in clear regimented lines. The shadows of buildings in the narrow streets crowded out the moonlight.
 Soon the first bridge that the four had to cross loomed tall infront of them, the bridge, built over the river where it broke into three tri butaries, was of an unusual 'Y' shaped design. On the corner on the other bank , the gloomy Chuo ward office sat squat, the hands on it's clockface backlit by the glowing face pointed to a curious time.The bridge's handrail was low and on each of the three arms of the 'Y' elegant lilly shaped lamps stood.
 The third bridge was Tsukiji bashi, and although the tastelessness of the city centre was no exception in the area around the bridge, a willow tree had been planted on the foot of the bridge. Passing by on a routine basis, you'd be forgiven for not noticing this forlorn willow; even still, it stood alive and defiant, surrounded by concrete on a sliver of land,it's leaves stirring in the river wind.

{Note:There is no willow tree at the foot of Tsukijibashi. Kanako dropped out at this bridge.}




散歩者を呼び止めたお巡りさん 聖路加病院は?の質問にポーズをとってくれました
 The three crossed the fourth bridge,Irifunabashi, in the opposite direction to the previous Tsukijibashi and gathered at it's foot,all praying in a similar fashion. Masako felt sorry for Kanako but unlike normal feelings of sorrow, they were muted. The selfish feeling that welled up inside her was that those who dropped out made their own choice to follow a different route from the one that lay ahead. Each person's wish was their own business, and in this situation there was no way she could help.This was different to helping somebody carry a heavy pack up the mountain, this was each to his own.
 Although it was dark, Irifunabashi's name itself could just be made out, written lengthways in white characters on a green or black metal plaque on a stone support at the foot of the bridge. The bright uniform lights of the Caltex petrol station threw out shadows onto the wide expanse of concrete around it, seeming to make the far side of the bridge float upwards into the light.

{The present day Irifunabashi name plate is made of granite not metal.}

St. Luke's Hospital:

 After the river flowed under Irifunabashi, it curved round almost in a right-angle. It was a little far until the fifth bridge, Akatsukibashi. A wide deserted road that followed the river had to be walked to get to Akastukibashi. Before too long on the left bank of the river, the grand building of St Luke's Hospital came into view.
 Then the lurid white supports of the fith bridge Akatsukibashi appeared,strangely shaped pillars daubed with white paint.(Omit).Crossing the bridge they found themselves infront of St Luke's hospital car park.
{Note: It's at this bridge that Koyumi drops out}


{The bronze bridge nameplate,streaked from being exposed to the rain. St Luke's hospital can be made out in the background}


{Note: Sakaibashi couldn't be found, and according to a map from the middle of the Showa era it was shown to be in the vicinity of the original site of Keio University.}
 Then the sixth bridge, Sakaibashi was right infront; all it was was a small bridge constructed from green painted steel plates.

 'Bizenbashi' was inscribed on a concrete support similar in shape to a shamisen case. Attached to the top of the same pillar was a sorry looking lamp. Looking over to the left bank of the river the blue domed roof of Honganji could be seen rising into the night sky.


<{The Bizenbashi nameplate is so overgrown with bushes that it can't be seen.}BR>

{Honganji's roof seen from Bizenbashi.}