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Rengetsu’s memorial stone at Saihoji, near Jinkoin. Photograph Melanie Eastburn, 2005

 

Rengetsu’s memorial stone at Saihoji, near Jinkoin. Photograph Melanie Eastburn, 2005

Rengetsu died in 1875in the simple Jinkoin tearoom where she had lived for the previous ten years. She had asked that her friend and artistic collaborator Tomioka Tessai be the sole person contacted upon her death. Tessai devised the simple inscription on Rengetsu’s tombstone, which is located at Saihoji, near Jinkoin. Rengetsu’s casket contained a shroud painted by Tessai with images of a lotus and a moon. Rengetsu had earlier inscribed the shroud with this poem:

How I hope (to pass away)
while gazing at a round moon
in a cloudless sky
shining over lotus flowers in full bloom.

(trans. John Stevens)