227x162. 1983. Gorge, Yamanashi, Japan. Many stories associated with this painting. The subject is a gorge in Yamanashi in Japan, near the place place Otsuki (Big
Moon). I got off a bus at Monkey Bridge (Saruhashi) met by Ito sennin (hermit) who came walking down the narrow track down through the snow laden bamboos and pines in his gum boots under a large black brolly, to meet me.


We accessed the Gorge some days later by hiking up alongside the rapids on the black basalt banks. We wore straw sandles which don't slip so much in the wet. Coming back was harder and I was hanging by one hand at one stage with a drop to the rapids below.


Ito sennin told me about a snake called Ao-daishou, which wasn’t thought to be poisonous but Ito had researched in some old books and found there were records of its bite being fatal. It was poisonous. Other snakes were the more common mamushi and we had to avoid numbers of these who were sunning themselves on the rocks.


Ito san was a hermit but he had a phone, but he lived alone in the topmost house of a string of houses which were only accessible by climbing a track.These were three story farmhouses with the top story occupied by silkworms whose munching sounds could be heard below. Ito san often chopped bamboo for his own use, making utensils, nothing was wasted. He came from a traditional art family but made enough as a stockbroker to retire early. He said now he was really rich in time. When he plucked a plant to draw, he would take the roots and replant it as soon as he’d finished the drawing.


The Gorge seemed to have an image of a kwannon in a natural alcove - just the light on the earth forms – but we both saw it. The Kwannon is a buddhist incarnation of a merciful deity usually female.


While at Ito san's, I had the delicious experience of having a butterfly land on my toe and lick it presumably for salt, as I sat with my legs stretched out in front, on the engawa (a narrow kind of verandah) of the farmhouse overlooking the valley.