where truth resides



The Eastern Bank of the Kamogawa



This is the eastern bank of the Kamogawa River during the sakura (cherry blossom) season, with Mt. Hiei looming in the background. This mountain was alight with a large Chinese character meaning "big" or "large" in the evening of December 31, 1993, and fireworks went off above it at the New Year to large, enthusiastic crowds gathered on both sides of the river bank, to commemorate the 1200the anniversary of the founding of Kyoto in 794 AD by the emperor Kanmu.  In the river just astride the mountain was a large, white, rectangular Shinto altar in the middle of the flowing river with "gifts" of a tangerine and ricecakes for the "gods."


In dramatic counterpoint to this triumphant pagan display, the site of Tecla's martyrdom was probably a few hundred yards down the river (away from the mountain, to the right of the photo) on this same eastern bank.   The "Kamogawa" literally means "Gull River" and one can see the gulls lazing atop small stones that peek out of the very shallow river bed.  Certainly it is a river of much peace, beauty, and tranquillity, perfect for the message transmitted by Tecla and her cohorts in the Great Kyoto Martyrdom of October 6, 1619. 


The section of the river bank we are looking at in the photo, is probably the very place, or near the very place, where the geisha, O-Kuni, invented Kabuki dancing and drama in 1603, sixteen years before Tecla was martyred a little down river, and there is a statue of O-Kuni (which is much more conspicuous than Tecla's stone ) along the "yellow brick road" just above the river bank next to the adjoining Kawabata Street.  On the opposite side of Kawabata Street, also perhaps in this very location, is the famous Gion geisha district, made famous throughout the whole fabled history of Japan and most recently in the bestselling Memoirs of a Geisha. 


But as we know, Tecla Hashimoto is greater than any geisha, than any kabuki dancer, in this whole fabled history, and Memoirs of a Geisha would have nothing on a book called Memoirs of a Martyr (re: Tecla Hashimoto) were such a book ever written.  (Photo used with kind permission of user named "Moja" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FileSakura_MtHiei.jpg)