The Tosa Diary

Translated by Earl Roy Miner

the 21st.

About six o'clock in the morning the boat set out at last.

The boats of our fellow travelers also left. As I looked at the scene of the boats on the water, it was as though the leaves of autumnal trees had scattered in the early spring sea. Was it because of the strength of our unceasing prayers? At all events, the wind did not blow, and we rowed out in fine weather. At this time a child whom we had asked to serve our group sang a boat song.

Always I look back

Toward my native place,

To where my parents are,

And how can I get home?

His song touched the feelings of us all. As he was singing and the boat bore on, we passed a place where dark-colored birds were gathered upon the tops of rocks along the coast, while the waves shattered white at their base. It was as the captain said: "The white waves are heading where the black birds roost." There was nothing very special about his words, but at the time they sounded like the verse of a poem. Since it was not the sort of thing one would expect a sea captain to say, it caught one's attention.

As we were bearing on during these remarks, our leader was looking out upon the waves. All the way from Tosa he had been saying that we were in danger of encountering pirates. The sea is a terrifying element to one with such apprehensions, and his hair has all gone white as a result. It is the sea that has made him age to seventy or eighty.

On his head a snow,

On the rocky coast white waves

Falling constantly—

Tell me, which of those is whiter,

You guardian of these isles.

Captain, you should repeat this poem to the guardian of the isles!