“Japanese Banana”

芭蕉の群れを見つける。英語で”Japanese Banana”と呼ぶだけあって、花や実は私たちがよく知るバナナとよく似ている。
だから、初めて能の芭蕉を見たとき、その植物がJapanese bananaというのだと知っていたからこそ、頭の中ではその舞台が中国ではなく、フィリピンの蒸し暑い夜にどうしても置き換わってしまうのだった。

Went to Hortus Botanicus Leiden and found some trees of Basho, Japanese banana in English, leaves, flowers and fruits of which are similar to what we call “banana”.
When I lived in the Philippines in my childhood, there were some tall banana trees in the garden of my house. Michael, a driver of my father, who often climbed up one of the trees and grabbed a bunch of banana, called me and kindly threw the best part of the fruit into my mouth.
This is something that I heard from my parents when we moved in Japan, and I am not sure I still remember what I experienced or I might have made up this story.
Yet, every time I encounter bunches of banana, even when I see them put on the shelf of a supermarket in my neighborhood,I always feel like I am staying in the hot and humid garden of my house in Manilla and stuffing my mouth with the tasty banana Michael fed me.
This might be the reason why I somehow misunderstood that a Noh play “Basho”, one of famous Japanese traditional theatrical plays, had its site in Philippines, which was actually ancient China.
When I watched the play for the first time in my 20’s, I couldn’t stop wondering if the protagonist, a spirit of Basho, did like banana fruits, and ended up imagining myself as a sprit of banana standing in middle of the garden of my house in Manilla in the hot and humid evening and waiting for Michael to give me the mysteriously delicious fruit.



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