Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2019 – deadline approaches!

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun with tags , on January 9, 2019 by Tito

Three more weeks till the deadline for entries into this year’s Genjuan International Haibun Contest. Details here. The office is usually lenient with entries arriving a few days late. The three judges include newly-appointed Toru Kiuchi, Vice Director of the International Division at the Museum of Haiku Literature. They will read your works without knowing authors’ identities and will be looking for haikai style, best understood by reading examples. Check out our haibun pages through the page links at top right. Click the hailstones ‘Icebox’ header photo to return to this top page anytime. Good luck!

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Finding Sekitei

Posted in Autumn, Japanese Modern, Winter with tags , on December 28, 2018 by Tito

Late November. I climbed Mt. Takamiyama (1,248m, ‘Kansai’s Matterhorn’) on the border between Nara and Mie. Found a little snow at the top, where there’s a shrine to Yatagarasu, the giant three-legged crow, guide of the first emperor, emblem of Kumano Jinja (and of Japan’s national football team). The scene was almost biblical: a mountain ark.
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The Messenger Crow’s Mount —
there below, autumn ranges
north, south, east and west ……………. Tito
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After the descent, took a dip at Takasumi Hot Spring. Of this, another time. The bathhouse receptionist gave me a map, however, on which was marked “Sekitei-an”, a haiku poet’s hermitage elsewhere in the village of Higashi Yoshino. I remembered the name from Blyth’s History of Haiku. Although Blyth has him in Meiji, he is actually one of the best of the Taisho period haiku poets. I began to envisage a Hailstone event there next year. In the meantime, here are two of his beautifully alliterative/assonant verses for the winter season. Happy New Year!
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koshiyuki no / yama mite shouji / shime ni keri
Gazing across
to the snowed-up mountains …
then shutting up
my paper window-screens ……………. Sekitei, 1913

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getsumen ni / samukari no ei / kakari keri
The face of the moon:
in silhouette
flying on through it,
a flock of winter geese …………….. Sekitei, 1951

from the Icebox inbox – 43

Posted in Autumn, Haibun, Poem, Submissions with tags , on December 9, 2018 by Tito

Haibun: Offerings

Nicole Hague-Andrews

.. The trolls at Fowlmere live under the bridges, and sometimes under the boardwalks that meander through the marshy reed beds. They live in the damp, shady places, loathing the sunlight and will eat you if you don’t answer their questions correctly or give them the gifts that they ask for. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to appease them in order to cross their bridges to safety. They ask us what our favourite colours are (which we have rehearsed well beforehand); sometimes they ask for leaves or berries, sticks, songs, poems or numbers. They are as fickle as the wind and the rain.

dragonflies
circling the gunnera*
two feet wide

.. At the old watercress beds, the pump galoops water… and our dresses are wet to the knees. The trolls won’t eat the spicy, bitter watercress, but we like it with our apples and crackers. The chalk-bed stream water is so clear that Ophelia floats by on luminous weeds, as we throw blackberries on her and the silky, seed-expanded heads of reeds.

dried-up reed beds:
from the hide
Florence blows shut
the windows

.. We are becoming familiar with the different families of trolls: some are nicer than others, can even be experienced as kind. We try to understand their natures. Still, we are left alone to climb trees and make dens.

from the bridge
half a yellow leaf
… floats by

* gunnera – giant rhubarb

Poem: Voici

Serge Saunière

Voici ces quelques photos des deux jours passés prés de vous.
Ciel bleu et soleil pour nous accompagner.
Souvenirs escarpés et quelques pierres de plus sur mes étagères.
Un bonsaî genévrier qui respire à nouveau.
Basho au cours de l’eau.
Le désir de vous revoir.

Here are some pictures of the two days spent with you.
Blue sky and sun to accompany us.
Steep memories and some more stones now on my shelves.
A juniper bonsai that breathes once more.
Basho over the water.
The desire to see you again.

Beneath Northern Hills

Posted in Autumn, Ginko-no-renga with tags on November 21, 2018 by david mccullough

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Beneath northern hills
a green, shining lake
dappled with fallen leaves
………………………….. David

Speckles of fungus,
dead tree still standing
………………………….. Branko

Stalked by a grey heron —
the floating isle
of Midorogaike
………………………….. Richard

Sleepy, at this water’s edge,
where wild boars roam
………………………….. Hitomi

By the roadside,
alone with his ghost,
a taxi driver dozing
………………………….. Ursula

Goddess of the pond,
her silent face
………………………….. Tomiko

Feels like
a reed pipe
playing in the distance
………………………….. Teruko

A lunatic scream
pierces the air
………………………….. Branko

Uprooted trees
shelter their young —
echoes of the Ice Age
………………………….. Akira

Feeding the marsh,
a handful of sprinkled acorns
………………………….. Hitomi

Green brooch
on a red sports-car:
the praying mantis
………………………….. Mayumi

The mood of these trees
in all their colours
………………………….. Gerald

Poets wandering
beside the lake —
cold hunter’s moon
………………………….. Ayako

At last, one bubble
makes it to the surface
………………………….. Tito

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Editor’s footnote: this ginko-no-renga was composed after a memorable composition stroll around Midorogaike (Midoro Pond) in Kitayama, Kyoto on 4 Nov. 2018. It was compiled by David McCullough with assistance from host, Branko Manojlovic. Most but not all of the 13 participants got a verse in. We hope to do another by a pond in Osaka next spring!

Hailstone’s 17th Autumn Haike: Mt Miwa and Tanzan Shrine

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Walking with tags on November 11, 2018 by William

Oct. 13, 2018 – Mt. Miwa 三輪山

After a box lunch taken in the harvest rice-fields near Omiwa Shrine 大神神社 and a visit to Omononushi’s ancient cryptomeria in the main compound, the five poets intending to scale Mount Miwa (467m, to the north of Sakurai) have first to obtain permission at Sai Jinja 狭井神社. They are issued with a route map and pilgrims’ garlands to wear around their necks, each supporting a small bell that jingles all the way up to the summit. All pledge to remain silent throughout the climb. Tito decides to climb barefoot. Here are a few of the haiku from this first day.

Snake God Tree:*
searching through my pockets
for raw egg offering
………………………… Branko

“Komorebi!”*
pointing and whispering
to his wife —
his tree enlightenment!
………………………… Richard

To my sweating forehead
a splash of waterfall —
just halfway to the top
………………………… Kyoko 

My vow of silence,
severely tested on the climb
by an English-speaking man!
………………………… Tito

The rock sanctuary:
one family clapping hands in unison,
a lone woman staring faraway
………………………… Kyoko

Pilgrim’s bare feet
imprinting the mud …
unspoken words
………………………… Branko

Miwa —
blue light
shining from a black leaf
on the forest floor
………………………… Tito

After the descent, talk resumes at Hibara Jinja* 檜原神社 a little way along the Yamanobe Old Path. Later that evening, at Wakaba Minshuku*, haiku are shared, appreciated, rejected, and occasionally reworked, until the wine is drunk and midnight has long passed.

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Oct. 14, 2018 – Mt. Goharetsu 御破裂山

Two poets return home, but another joined the haike last night. It’s a cool, early autumn morning and four poets are searching for a path over Mount Goharetsu* (610m). Their destination is Tanzan Shrine 談山神社 and its annual “Kakitsusai” 嘉吉祭 harvest festival, which is due to start in a few hours.

Cloud shrouds the peaks
above the plains of Asuka —
a lone kite circling
………………………… Richard

Fields of golden rice
ready for harvesting —
ancient village, unchanged
………………………… Kyoko

The autumn butterfly —
how prim and proper
its ribbon ties!
………………………… Tomiko

The persimmon farmer talks
of a typhoon-damaged slope:
Mt. Katsuragi*
wreathed in mist
………………………… Tito

Their route takes them through the streets of Asuka 明日香 into its eastern foothills, past locals tending their crops, and up into the tall, straight trunks of cypress and cedars growing on the mountainside.

Another step
on rising earth,
interrupted —
span of silver thread
………………………… William

The entomologist —
showing us his bagged live specimens
in a dreary wood
………………………… Tito

The trees close in and
catch our voices — their reply
a soft mockery
………………………… William

They reach Tanzan Shrine, a burst of Japanese architecture, and find the festival’s main ritual is already underway. Removing their shoes, they shuffle quietly into one wide room—open at the back to a sunlit veranda hung with iron lanterns—and join the worshippers. To the shrill accompaniment of gagaku*, many elaborate displays of fruits and vegetables are brought out from deep within the shrine, carefully passed from priest to priest. A glimpse is had of a statue of the enshrined deity, Fujiwara no Kamatari*, whom the festival honours.

The Shinto priest:
a single green pepper
atop his chestnut offering
………………………… Richard

For another year
priest pulls the curtain down
on the clan divinity —
his long, plaintive wail
………………………… Tito

The festival complete, our pilgrims head back into the sun, retrieving lunch boxes from their backpacks.

tier upon tier,
the surrounding trees are touched
by new scarlet
………………………… William

The summit of Goharetsu is attained after a further short climb. To where next year?

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* Notes
Haike – haiku hike
Snake God Tree – an ancient sugi (cryptomeria) thought to be a yorishiro (conductor) for Okuninushi, who comes in the form of a snake
komorebi – sunshine filtered through branches
Hibara Jinja – a Shinto compound lacking any hall for its divinity, Amaterasu, and thought to be the first Ise Shrine
Wakaba Minshuku – a rustic inn beside Okadera Temple in Asuka
Mt. Goharetsu – to the southeast of Asuka, part of which is commonly referred to as “Tonomine”
Mt. Katsuragi – a peak (959m) to the west of Asuka famed as the haunt of the C7th mystic, En no Gyoja
gagaku – ancient court music, featuring reeds and pipes
Fujiwara no Kamatari – instigator of the Taika Reforms in C7th and founder of the Fujiwara clan

Roller Coaster – extension

Posted in Rensaku, Summer with tags , on October 23, 2018 by Tito

I read aloud the original 19-verse Roller Coaster sequence from the Icebox as a contribution to an international haiku meeting held in Ljubljana, Slovenia in early September. I had not been expecting a further episode, but Kansai was again badly hit by natural disaster when, on Sep. 4, Typhoon Jebi (No. 21) blew through, our strongest storm for at least 25 years. I have here collected some of the recent haiku written by our Circle as a kind of extension of our summer 2018 ‘roller coaster ride’. Thank you to our members for sharing them. .. (SHG)

STORM (9)

last sunflowers —
they stand to attention
facing the typhoon

signboards and roofs
plucked into the air —
the autumn gale ……………………………….. both, Mayumi K.

mountains crumbling,
rivers flooding,
the typhoon, past —
anyone alive? ……………………………………. Michiko

after the typhoon —
over wet tree bark
inches a white snail ………………………….. David McC.

a derelict garden —
that large, loaded kaki tree
toppled by the storm

after Jebi
sweeping up our alley:
in the debris
a gold thread …………………………………….. both, Sally

five days after
the terrible typhoon
the old tree, still
propped against my roof …………………… Yoshiharu

crimson spider lilies
stand erect by broken trees —
that stormy night! …………………………….. Ayako

oh, moon in the sky!
above our patient town
of blue tarp rooves ……………………………. Teruko

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2019: submissions, new judge, new book

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun, Submissions with tags , on October 12, 2018 by Tito

The Genjuan Contest office is now open to receive your submissions for 2019. Closing deadline will be 31 Jan. (although a day or two beyond is usually OK).

Last year, three of four judges were based in Japan, with Angelee Deodhar, giving us her gifted support from India. With Angelee’s sudden passing and the retirement of emeritus judge, Nenten Tsubo’uchi, we decided to ask Toru Kiuchi to join us as judge this year. We were delighted when he accepted the appointment. He is a former Professor of English at Nihon University, Vice Director of the International Division at the Museum of Haiku Literature, Tokyo, as well as author of the recently published book, American Haiku: New Readings (Lexington Books).  We welcome him to the role and give a deep bow to Nenten for all he has contributed to the Contest.

The rules remain the same as last year. How about entering a piece or two? There are real prizes, certificates and judges’ comments for the winners, and it’s free! Address of our officer, Eiko Mori, and other details are given in the Genjuan 2019 Guidelines .

Finally, it is worth mentioning again that the Genjuan Contest Decorated Works 2015-17 anthology, complete with judges’ comments and examples of contemporary Japanese haibun, was published by us earlier this year. The pale green book with a painting by Buson on its cover is entitled, From the Cottage of Visions. Details of how to order are give on our Publications page, too.