Beside the summer stream

Posted in Event report, Summer with tags on September 12, 2014 by Tito

….. Fishes splash
….. on a plastic tray—
….. water slaps my face

…………… (Mayumi Kawaharada)

The summer has been wet, Kiyotaki b'fly 31.8.14 by Chizurubut the sun shone on our joint picnic with PTO volunteers on 31 August at Kiyotaki. Saito-san even caught some small river fish to grill. A butterfly no one had ever seen before dropped by for a drink from the wet sand.

….. Threading
….. stone after stone
….. s t r e a m w a t e r
….. following itself down

…………… (Tito)

….. A dragonfly
….. out of barbecue smoke—
….. the river flows on

…………… (Eiko Mori)

Matsumoto Jin at Kiyotaki
(sketch by Jin Matsumoto)

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun, News with tags , , on September 6, 2014 by Tito

This is Japan’s only international haibun contest. Entry is free and there are prizes and certificates. With the retirement of Nobuyuki Yuasa after serving for six years as judge of (first) the Kikakuza and (subsequently) the Genjuan Contests, this year we have one new judge, Nenten Tsubouchi, who is welcomed as one of Japan’s most respected haiku poets with an unusual interest in haibun. He is a modernist with a very strong classical foundation. You can see a photo and learn a little more about him here

Ideally, there will be one Grand Prix, a number of An Prizes (‘Cottage’ Prizes, highly commended), and some Honourable Mentions, too. The authors of entries chosen for the first two of these categories will receive prizes, and all decorated works will warrant a certificate from the organizers. In the spring, the results will be displayed here on the Hailstone Icebox and elsewhere. You can read last year’s winning pieces on a separate page (‘Genjuan Winning Haibun’).

Entries to : Ms. Eiko Mori, 2-11-23-206 Jokoji, Amagasaki-shi, Hyogo-ken 660-0811, Japan (to arrive between 1 Oct. 2014 and 31 Jan. 2015)

We have lowered the minimum length stipulation to make it easier for writers using English as their second language. Each entry should total 10 to 40 lines (at 1 line = 80 spaces), with title and at least one haiku (no formal restrictions). Print on one side of A4, if possible, with your name and address, tel. no., and email address typed along the bottom. The judges will not get to know your identity until judging is over and the Genjuan Contest office already knows the results.

Judges: Nenten Tsubouchi, Stephen Henry Gill, Hisashi Miyazaki.

Full details via the page link (top right) ‘幻住庵 Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015 Guidelines’.  Please do take part!

Atago Old Road Night-time Ginko

Posted in Event report, Haiku, Summer with tags , on August 29, 2014 by Tito

Four Hailstone poets, most notably Andres Matos (Amato’), visiting Kyoto for the first time in many years, set off on a rainy evening (24.8) towards Seiryoji Temple. There, we sheltered for a while under a great wooden gate waiting for the Jizo-bon lanterns to be lit along the narrow road that winds up through Saga towards Toriimoto and the foot of Mt. Atago. This old pilgrim route, would be decked out with paper illuminations for the weekend celebrating the festival of Jizo (Ksitigarbha), protector of children and travellers. Andres was passing through on his way from Venezuela to begin a new life with his family in Thailand. We walked and talked and wrote through everything from almost imperceptible drizzle to drenching downpours. A Hong Kong meal in Uzumasa’s Daiei Street rounded off the composition stroll.

Eight years gone by
without a haiku –
Where was I?

…………… (Amato’)


…………… Lamp-lit summer rain –
…………… Shadow of a pine-tree cast
…………… Across the temple wall

………………………… (Mayumi)


At odd intervals
lantern candles fizzling …
vanquished by the rain

……………  (Tito)


…………… Pouring rain –
…………… Just a few flickering lanterns lit
…………… for our flickering spirits

………………………… (Amato’)


After the rain
on Atago Furumichi,
candle scent

…………… (Haruka) 


a cirku for comments

Posted in Cirku, Summer, Workshopping on August 21, 2014 by Tito

golden stone cirku trim


(Kitasaga, Kyoto, 21.8.14)


Click on the photo to enlarge and read the cirku.

Questions: (1) Would the haiku have been better without the photo or (2) as a one- or two-liner rather than as a cirku?

As comments, your opinions, please.

Turning up the heat

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Classic, Summer with tags , on August 8, 2014 by Tito

The youngest man to have become a disciple of Bashō was surely Izumiya no Kumenosuke. At the age of 14, Bashō conferred upon him the haiku name, Tōyō. The poet had been soothing his aches and pains at the Izumiya Inn in the little hot-spring town of Yamanaka towards the end of his Narrow Road journey of 1689 and had found young Kumenosuke to be the new keeper. Kumenosuke had convened a haikai session there in Bashō’s honour.

Although we are currently in the heat of August, and the last thing I would think of is a hot spring, my wife happened to book us in to stay in Yamanaka last Sunday night. The following morning, at the Bashō no Yakata (Bashō Mansion, which stands by the site of the Inn), its windows open wide  …

The transpicuous house–
a squally wind ruffling
…… a summer garden

……………. (Tito)

… for the grand sum of ¥350, I bought a very slender volume, entitled 山中蕉門:桃妖俳句集 (Haiku by the Yamanaka Bashō-school Poet,  Tōyō).

Every night since then, back in stifling Kyoto, before turning my head against the pillow and closing my eyes, I have enjoyed reading a few haiku by this most poetical of inn-keepers, around whom a lively haiku circle had grown in the mid Edo period.  I doff my hat to whomever it was that researched and made this tiny white booklet of lightness and air. No one at all is credited.

鼻からたばこ吹きけり雲の峰 (桃妖)
Exhaling tobacco smoke
through his nose–
…… cumulonimbus

……………. (Tōyō)


sekirei & hamanasu

Posted in Haiku, Japanese Classic, Summer with tags on July 24, 2014 by Tito

Buson had once written sekirei no/ o ya Hashidate wo/ ato nimotsu 

Tail of a wagtail—
Left behind in Hashidate
My luggage
…………. (trans. Makoto Ueda)

Today, I walked the same strand as he had done one quarter of a millennium before and found myself humming

Before a sea of Prussian blue
Hips of the wild rose …

…………. (Amanohashidate, 23.7.14)


Plain Living, Happy Singing

Posted in Book, News, Summer with tags , , on July 19, 2014 by Tito


From the bus stop

Still a long, long way to go—

Summer groves.


Toshi Ida’s new book has just been delivered from the printers! It is a solo English haiku collection, complete with Japanese versions, divided into four seasonal sections. There are also many nice haiga illustrations and photos (by the author himself), and a series of ten haibun pieces at the back of the book. The title of the book alludes to a lament by Wordsworth, “Plain living and high thinking are no more”, but also to the natural bird-like ‘singing’ of the author’s heart as he lives the haiku ethic every day. The book’s subtitle is ‘Haiku Scenes’. This is the first individual collection published by the Hailstone Haiku Circle. Congratulations to Toshi!

¥860 (U.S.$ 8) + p&p. The book will soon be available at Hailstone events, or in the post via Mari Kawaguchi (domestic) and Hisashi Miyazaki (international). Contact details are given on our Publications page (via the page link at top right).



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