Ryokan was an outstanding calligrapher and Zen monk. During his lifetime he composed many poems. One of them concerns the maple leaf on an autumn afternoon:
In the Japanese language, this is very poetic. It suffered somewhat when translated into English but the meaning can still be understood. When Ryokan saw the Maple leaf falling he could not help but talk to the leaf and say, “How wonderful you are. You don’t just show the front and try to hide the back. I thought I was a monk with no double life but I realize that there still exists in me a desire to show the front and hide the back. But maple leaf, to you the front and back are just the same – no pretensions, no ego, no artificiality. How nice. If I lived like you, front and back do not make any difference. I am I.”
Ryokan was inspired by the maple leaf and bowed in respect to it.
Excerpt, in gratitude from: The Center Within, Gyomay M. Kubose -1986, Torrance – Heian International Inc.p.30