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Imoo national woods

Miyama village, Hidaka, Wakayama 2003.10.19

Editor's note: Former Miyama village has been merged into the newly established Hidakagawa town since May 2005.

In his correspondence, Minakata Kumagusu mentioned frequently 'Imoo national woods' (former Kawakami village and Samukawa village) as his research field. In this woods, Kumagusu made a four-month staying for mycological observation and collection in the winter 1928-1929. After finishing this tough project, Kumagusu wrote a note with illustration and a haiku, which is today reproduced as a monument in a camping park along Itani river, near the entrance to Imoo forest path.

However, Imoo national woods has been changed for industrial reasons since Kumagusu's day. The picture bellow shows its dry view of today, completely different from other preserved small areas like Mizukami natural forest, Oto mountains, or Nishinoko preserved district.

Until only half a century ago when Kumagusu spent a winter there for researches despite his age and severe coldness, most part of Kii peninsula was still covered with the primeval forests from the days before mankind. Even the reminiscence of the diversity in those pristine wilderness could hardly be found today.

[Photo: Today's view of Imoo woods]

Today's monotonous view of Imoo woods, which has been turned to a cedar log farm.

[Photo: kumagusu's illustration of Imoo woods]

Kumagusu's drawing of Imoo national woods in the letter to Sugawa Kantoku (27 Oct 1928, "Minakata Kuamgusu Zenshu" Extra Vol 1, p 407)

A monument of Kumagusu's epigraph near Itani river - at the entrance to Imoo woods

[Photo: A monument of Kumagusu's Haiku on Imoo]

A sentiment in Imoo

I have dedicated my life
since when I was nine
to Mycology, for which I have been wandering
restlessly from East to West
to be sixty three, and have now reached
here to further my research despite tough weather
without knowing to which end it will lead me.

Koke no shita ni
Mono ya
Kani no ko

(A crab shell at the roadside, not yet covered
 with the moss, in the sight of passersby.)


See also: Japanese page

Text and illustration: from Kumagusu's note left at Yamadas, Shioya village, where Kumagusu visited on 7 January 1929, just after finishing his winter staying in Imoo woods.

cf: Yoshikawa Toshihiro, "Notes on Kumagusu's letters to Huruta Kokichi" in: Minakata Fumie, "On my father Minakata Kumagusu", p 167-168 (with a photograph). See also: Saika Teijiro, "My Master Minakata in the memories", p 168 'When I saw a dead crab at a forest path'. A variant in: Kuamgusu's letter to Uematsu Shigeru, 3 December 1928 ("Minakata Kuamgusu Zenshu" Extra Vol 1, p 168).

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