Poem-engraved Monument of Mokichi Saito

Poem-engraved Monument of Mokichi Saito

▲The View of the Mogami River at the time of Mokichi’s visit

▲The View of the Mogami River at the time of Mokichi’s visit

Among the many writers and artists who had visited the town of Oe, Mokichi Saito, a Yamagata-born giant of poetry who belonged to the Araragi School, had visited the town three times (in 1895, 1897, and in 1929) and composed a total of four poems. Today, poem-engraved monuments to commemorate Mokichi have been installed on the riverside locations of the Mogami River, in Motoyashiki, and in Haramachi. Strolling along the monument tour course will recall the scenes of the time.

Monuments of Mokichi’s Poems

Seeing the raging water of Mogami River today
My mind is full and the night advances

Location of monument: Aterazawa, riverside of the Mogami River


When the night has
advanced to such depth
I open my eyes
and listen to the sound
of the waves of Mogami River

Location of monument: Aterazawa, riverside of the Mogami River


Mogami River seething
at Domeki, Aterazawa
I find myself continue to
gaze at the flow

Location of monument: Aterazawa, riverside of the Mogami River


I still recall the time I traveled to Shonai
and spent a night when I was fourteen years old.

Background: When I was 13 years old, an elementary school teacher took about five of us students to a school trip. On the first day, we stayed the night at a place called Domeki on the banks of the Mogami River after we hiked over Mt. Kaminoyama from the back. The width of the river is considerably wide at this point, and it was wider than any other rivers I had ever seen in my life. On the other side of the river, I could see someone walking along the narrow flat land that lay between the river and cliff wall, dragging up a boat on the water. (omitted) The supper that night included three broiled whole sweetfishes, and the breakfast next morning five broiled minnows. Every part of the experience was new to the boys. We left the lodge after paying about 0.12 yen per person. “Wasn’t that sweetfish delicious?” “It sure was, I ate their heads, too.” “Did you eat the guts?” “Yes, I did eat the guts, and ate the bones, too.” (Selected Works of Mokichi Saito, vol.11. p215. Iwanami Shoten)

Monument location: Cross road of Haramachi


Noisy rain came pouring down from the south
washed away the sand outside of the large front gate

Background: Mokichi Saito’s trip to Aterazawa. Mokichi’s Aterazawa trip was on September 14, 1929, when he was 48 years old. First, he visited Masanao Fukuda’s residence from Aterazawa Station taking a rickshaw, wearing a grayish stripe-patterned outfit and a fedora. After a little rest and chatting, Mokichi took Fukuda, his father and sister to the fish weir in Domeki. September is the season for the sweetfish to descend the river for spawning. Mokichi enjoyed and cheered in excitement watching sweetfishes coming down to the weir. Then the party moved to the restaurant, where he enjoyed dishes such as the salt-broiled sweetfish, soy sauce-broiled eel, and cold-washed sliced carp, while drinking beer. Being in good spirit, Mokichi sang songs and took a detour on the way back to pass through the red-light district. After spending the night at Fukuda’s house, Mokichi calligraphed one of his poems he composed in Mt. Koya and gave it to Fukuda as a gift.

Monument location: Motoyashiki

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