Spring and Asura
Book Days can make some of the best Box Days! After month-search with ups and down and doubts and moments of hope and jubilation, I now have the book in hand. The moment I saw the mysterious book Prof Goro Maki left behind on his pleasure craft, I had to have it. I thought determining the title of the book was going to be difficult. But finding it proved to be almost impossible. I took a chance purchasing what I thought was the right edition, but it was not. I was even denied its purchase on an auction site. But while browsing Mandarake I found it! Mission impossible turn to mission accomplished!
This is『春と修羅』translated “Spring and Asura” written by Kenji Miyazawa (宮沢賢治) and published in 1924. This was his only anthology published during his lifetime. The book was not written by Prof Maki nor does it contain his theory of Shin Godzilla. But like the red crane was a clue to the puzzle of Shin Godzilla’s structure, Miyazawa’s book provides insight into the enigmatic figure of Goro Maki.
Here’s a good summary of the book’s content and the meaning of its title:
“Spring and Asura” presents the persona as “Asura incarnate” who is “spitting, gnashing, pacing back and forth.” An Asura is a Buddhist demon who loves to quarrel. An Asura lives just below the realm of the humans in Buddhist cosmology. Japanese critics have stated that for Miyazawa, the world of the Asura most closely resembles that of real life full of war and struggle, where Buddhist compassion is needed most… Miyazawa’s Asura uses his eyes to observe a world that takes scant notice of him. Life can be a struggle in Miyazawa’s poems, but like the angry and sad little Asura, humanity is well advised to persist. The spiritual reward may be such life-affirming visions as that described in the optimistic poem “Daybreak.” (Source: Endnotes: Miyazawa Kenji Analysis
The parallel between the life of Miyazawa and Maki, particularly the death of a love one, seems unmistakable and intentionally created by Hideaki Anno, Director of Shin Godzilla. Learn more about Kenji Miyazawa on this episode of Begin Japanology