Zao Mountain Range. Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Zao is short for the Zao Mountain Range, which is part of the larger Ou Mountain Range. The mountains seen from the Miyagi Prefecture side of the ranges are, left to right (south to north): Fubou-san (1705 meters), Minami, Byobu-dake (1810 meters), Byobu-dake (1825 meters), Ushiroeboshi-dake (1686 meters), Katta-dake (1758 meters), Kumano-dake (1841 meters) and Myogobo (1491 meters). On the other side of the ranges lies Yamagata Prefecture.

When esoteric Buddhism was combined with ancient mountain worship and Shugendo (mountain asceticism) was born, and ascetic practices were undertaken deep in the mountains, Zao was a place for such things to happen. The name Zao comes from Zao Gongen, a Buddhist statue that was enshrined on the mountain.

There are published poems about Zao. In the 2-week residency period, the artists have found in the Zao-machi Public Library:

  • Zao no Uta (Tanka Shinbunsha 1988) by Sakuma Akira
  • Zao no Yama by Otsuki Hirashichi in his collection Sarasoju (Tohoku Araragi Koriyama 1978)
  • Two untitled tanka poems mentioning Zao by Matsuyuki Akira in Zao Tankasha Second Collection (Zao Tankasha, 2019)







  • 和心


The summer rays fall

Seeing above and ahead

Zao Mountains

  • Washin (trans. Mayu)




Strange Summer


Humans have the option to walk far.

I chose to stop at a place that is 4,800 km from my house. Without looking at the map, without knowing exactly where this is.

Here the mountains Zao Ranger looks at me boldly, say; “stay here, as long as you want.”

It turns out that this place is also home to me.

Bringing of childhood memories, rice field, hills and mountains surround the valley.

We also don’t have time to complain because the hot or rain it feels good.

The sun came up earlier than usual I know. He told me to enjoy the morning longer. Time is running slow. Longing was scattered among the Ajisai flowers which were still wet after last night’s rain.

The sun came up earlier than usual I know. But people in Zao take a late shower because the onsen only opens at 10.

Togatta is full of sounds of nature, occasionally I meet humans. Maybe no more than five people a day. The others have left, maybe they can’t stand it, it’s too quiet here.

I tried to make poems while looking at the green scenery. But this village moves slowly, words come but it’s hard for me to write quickly, as slowly as I wait for the Michelin Soba shop which is open only on weekends.

I gazed up at the Zao Mountains before going to bed, laying down in a bath where it was dark enough that I could see the stars in an unpolluted sky.

Humans have the option to walk far.

I chose to stop at a place that is 4,800 km from my house. Without knowing what is here and who will meet me. Everything is outlandish. But warm.

It turns out that I and myself inside, love alienation.

Because here the wind bring drizzle, say; “stay here, as long as you want.” She imitate the mountains to me. It’s as if she knows I miss my family, but is maze because here is the end; peace.

Humans have the option to walk far.

Do you choose to stop at a place far from your home?

  • Intan Anggita Pratiwie






ここで蔵王連山が大胆にも私を見て言った。「ここにいろ、好きなだけいろ 」と。















  • インタン・アンギッタ・プラティウィ (訳・マユ)





Hot spring water flows

with a strong mineral smell

down Zao Mountain

and right past our open door

through which no bear has yet come

  • Martin Edmond







  • マーティン・エドモンド (訳・マユ)