Calligraphy by Shinzan Roshi – Haru was senrin ni iru shosho uguisu



Japanese: Haru was senrin ni iru shosho uguisu
English translation: Spring enters the thousand forests — here [and] there, warblers
Box: Wooden with card sleeve
Scroll dimensions: 180x44cm

Uguisu is a type of Japanese bush warbler. The second half of the verse goes, “In autumn, the moon shines on every home, and reflects upon every body of water.” Within the changing of the seasons, Buddha-nature is manifest, and there is no home that is not bathed in the radiance of enlightenment.

This seven-word poetic line translates word for word: “Spring enters [the] thousand forests — here [and] there, warblers.” The sixth character, at the top of the second column, is a repeat sign, forming a compound with the previous character (處) meaning “here and there” or “various places”.

This is primarily a literary phrase, but it became popular with Zen masters: on a scroll it would often hang in the tokonoma alcove, particularly during springtime tea ceremonies.

Here, the cursive-script calligraphy shows effective contrasts at the beginning of each column. On the right, the initial complex character, “spring” (春) is followed by “enters” (入), made up of only two strokes of the brush; this also forms a kind of visual roof over the “thousand forests” (千林) below it. In reverse, the simple two-dot repeat mark on the left is followed by the complex character “warblers” (鶯), with the smaller signature below. These contrasts, augmented by the actual number of strokes for each character: 4-2-2-3-5-2-7, give the calligraphy its visual rhythm.

This is the first of two phrases, the second line of which is, “Autumn sinks into 10,000 rivers—every home, in moonlight!”

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