Otagaki Rengetsu | Letter

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Letter to Yasuyuki | Yesterday you came to my house, but I was out. I’m very sorry. Also, you left me some lovely things to eat. Thank you so much. This tanzaku I offer you is very clumsy… it’s a shame. I made it badly, please forgive me. (The priest of)Jinkou-in also gave me some fine sugar. Please pass along my gratitude. I heard you left Kyoto this morning… when you come again; I shall thank you face to face. These incense caddies are clumsy, and surely people will laugh at them. It’s a shame, but for now, since I don’t have anything good with which to return your favour, I give you these. Please pass one of them along to Jinkou-in. Stay well, and return home in peace… so I hope. – Warmly, to Yasuyuki, the twelfth day of the ninth month.

This letter forms a set with one of the two incense container in the shape of a turtle. The poem is inscribed on the original box:

Since this turtle
overflows its measure
of 10,000 years
how long shall
the one who keeps it live?

Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)

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