Haiku Requiems

Posted in Haiku, Japanese Classic, Music with tags on February 11, 2018 by Tito
.. Following the inclusion of a long haiku sequence, ‘Singing Carmina Burana‘, in our most recent book, Persimmon, some of you might be interested to learn that a few of your singing poet friends are now enrolled to perform Faure’s Requiem with the Kyoto Muse Choir this July. Deadline for enrolment is March 2.
.. Practising, I was reminded of another beautiful, currently popular Requiem: one by British composer, Karl Jenkins. Its first performance was in London in 2005, so it is 21st Century music, but 5 of its 13 movements are based on Japanese haiku-style death poems (辞世) by, respectively,
.. Gozan 吾山 (Koshigaya, 18th cent.) in movement 3: The snow of yesterday / that fell like cherry blossoms / is water once again 花と見し雪はきのふぞもとの水
.. Issho 一笑 (Kanazawa, 17th, disciple of Basho) in 6: From deep in my heart / how beautiful are / the snow clouds in the west 心から雪うつくしや西の雲
.. Hokusai 北斎 (Edo, 18-19th, ukiyo-e artist) in 8: Now as a spirit / I shall roam / the summer fields 人魂(ひとだま)で 行く気散じや 夏野原 
.. Chiyo-ni 千代尼 (Matto, Kaga, 18th, most famous haiku poetess) in 10: Having seen the moon / even I take leave of this life / with a blessing 月も見て我はこの世をかしく哉 
.. and Banzan 晩山 (Kyoto 17-18th) in 12: Farewell / I pass, as all things do, / like dew on the grass まめでゐよ身はならはしの草の露
and are sung in Japanese, the last two with traditional Latin Requiem words woven in! If your interest or time is limited, just listen to those 5 haiku-based movements from the complete work. Surely, it is a successful blending of West and East. There is a shakuhachi 尺八 and taiko 太鼓 in there, too. English translations are from Hoffmann’s book, Japanese Death Poems, which is where Jenkins probably found them, too.
.. There are one or two live performances of this haiku-replete Requiem available on YouTube, but nothing special. The studio version you can listen to here is well performed by a choir and orchestra in Kazakhstan! Best to copy and paste the link below into a parallel tab; then you can look at the haiku here and think of the poets while you listen …
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Persimmons – part 2

Posted in Autumn, Haibun with tags on February 3, 2018 by sosui

. Nowadays I feel persimmons may be losing their popularity among consumers. Shops sell only a few varieties — two kinds of sweet persimmons called Fuyugaki (Prosperity Persimmons) and Jirogaki (Jiro Persimmons), and one kind of dried persimmon called Ichidagaki (Ichida Persimmons). Prosperity Persimmons are produced mainly in Gifu Prefecture, but they were originally developed from the Goshogaki (Imperial Palace Persimmons) very popular in Nara Prefecture. An enterprising Gifu farmer took a seedling back from Nara, planted it in his orchard and made further improvements. Mizuho City in Gifu Prefecture commemorates this with a stone monument, which reads “The birthplace of Prosperity Persimmons”. I am very fond of Prosperity Persimmons, and, whenever I see them in shops, I cannot resist the temptation to buy them. They are especially tasty just before they begin to mature. When they feel slightly soft, they are ready to eat, for it is then that they are at their sweetest and juiciest. Jiro Persimmons were originally developed in Mori Town in Shizuoka Prefecture. A farmer named Matsumoto Jirokichi found a young seedling on the bank of the Ota River and planted it in his back yard. It grew into a tree and bore fruits, but they tasted so awful that no one cared for them. When his neighbour’s house had a fire, the tree was burned down. But fresh buds appeared the following spring, and within a few years the tree began to bear fruit again. When Jirokichi tasted one of them, he was surprised how good it was. Thus a new variety was born, named ‘Jiro Persimmon’ after its owner, but strictly speaking, it was the product of an accident! Now they are widely produced aound Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture. I think Jiro Persimmon is as good as its rival, Prosperity Persimmon, in size, colour and taste.
………………  Prosperity Persimmon —
………………  My mother is peeling it
………………  With her supple hands.
. Ichida Persimmons are produced in the village of Ichida in Nagano Prefecture (now a part of Takamori Town). They are relatively small dried persimmons, but very good in taste and colour. We have another kind of dried persimmon called Anpogaki, which look more like jelly because so much moisture is retained. They were originally made in Date City in Fukushima Prefecture, but now they are produced in other places as well, such as Wakayama and Toyama. What is common to the two types is that they are exposed to sulphur fumes in the manufacturing process. Perhaps because of this, they retain their beautiful orange colour. I live at the foot of Mt. Haruna, an area famous for plums, peaches and pears, but we also produce persimmons as a side line. In late autumn each year I buy big sour persimmons from a local grower and dry them. First I peel them, then hang them on strings to expose them to the sun. In several weeks, they will have a white powder on their surface and will be ready for eating. In sweetness, they are as good as Ichida and Anpo Persimmons, but, alas, they are black in colour and are rather difficult to make. If dried too long, they become hard, and if exposed to rain, they become mouldy. When they are well-made, however, I take special pleasure in eating them.
………………  The sunny orange
………………  Lines of drying persimmons —
………………  How they cheer the eaves!

(to be continued)

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2018 – deadline approaches!

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun with tags , on January 21, 2018 by Tito

Ten more days 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 four judges will read your works without knowing authors’ identities. They 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!

Haipho works for NHK Haiku Masters in Kyoto 1. ‘Snow’ team

Posted in Haipho, Winter with tags , , on January 16, 2018 by Mayumi Kawaharada

 

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Photo by Mayumi Kawaharada, haiku by Albie Sharpe

For the Icebox event report Click here
For the NHK report, here

Stopping outside

Posted in Haiqua, New Year, Travel with tags on January 7, 2018 by Tito

Stopping outside
A house of quiet embroidery …
Dog’s muzzle
To my hand.

(Banpho, Vietnam, 30.12.17)

We wish our readers a Happy New Year of the Dog. For you all, may its muzzle softly lick!

Persimmons – part 1

Posted in Autumn, Haibun with tags on December 16, 2017 by sosui

. I have a persimmon tree in front of my room. This year, it has produced a rich harvest. In fact, like many other fruit trees, it bears a lot of fruit every other year. However, the persimmons this tree produces are very small, less than the size of ping-pong balls. I believe this tree was here long before the garden was made, and that it belongs to the species called Yamagaki (Mountain Persimmon). Its fruits are probably very sour and nobody cares for them, but as autumn deepens, their colour also deepens, till birds come and peck at them. This is the tree’s only use, but when I see it growing in the shadow of a big cherry, doing its best to survive, I cannot help cheering it on.
………………  Time for persimmons
………………  To mature and redden —
………………  The sky is so blue.
. I have been close to persimmons since my childhood. We had a persimmon tree in our garden when I was at primary school. My father fastened sturdy ropes around one of its branches and made a swing for me. I was very proud of it and happily swung back and forth on it, but one day the branch broke off without warning and threw both the swing and me to the ground. Fortunately, I landed on a soft lawn, so I escaped with only scratches to my knees. This experience taught me, though, that persimmon trees were easily broken, and since then I have made it a rule not to climb them.
. During our wartime evacuation, I enjoyed sweet persimmons. The earliest kind we had was called Bongineri (Bon-Festival Sweet Persimmon). Its fruits were small and had lots of stones, but their flesh, strewn with black flecks resembling sesame seeds, was delicious. Later in autumn I would enjoy large persimmons that had been sweetened in rice chests — so big and sweet that I found them satisfying in every sense. Occasionally I enjoyed the special variety called Saijogaki (Saijo Persimmons), which I thought to be a real treasure.
………………  The sweet persimmons
………………  With dots like sesame seeds —
………………  Everyone eats laughing.

………………  Sweetened persimmons
………………  Melt on our tongues, so slow to
………………  Reach our stomachs.

(to be continued)

Hailstone’s 16th Autumn Haike: Mt. Aoba

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Walking with tags on December 7, 2017 by Ursula Maierl

Takahama-Ōi 高浜町ー大飯郡 district of Wakasa Bay, Fukui Pref. We travelled there and back in three cars.
Nov. 11 (Sat.) – a clutch of nine poets congregated on a day of autumn showers: the six men scaling the heights of Aobayama (693m) for five rigorous hours, while the three women enjoyed the more sedate pleasures of the mountain-foot herb garden. The evening culminated, at Loghouse Akioya, in a rollicking poetry reading of the day’s experiences, that some haijin of earlier centuries might surely have related to.
Nov. 12 (Sun.) – the following morning, as the sun came out, we composed further haiku near the site of Takahama Castle and the eroded arch of Meikyodo beside the Japan Sea’s pounding surf. Two cars then drove over to Ōshima on the leeward side of the Ōi Peninsular, where a harbour stroll was had.
Here follows a selection of our poems, in rough sequential order, with each poet represented.

greeting five hundred
invisible bears
between Kyoto and the sea
……………………….. Ursula

empty forest —
one bird sings
to the steady rain
……………………….. David McC.

here
at the edge of the world
all things are covered in gold —
the sound of bamboo grass
rustling
……………………….. David

tangle of grasping roots —
frozen struggle
of a mountain-top tree
……………………….. William

a friendly hand
wet from rain
pulls me over
the abyss
……………………….. David

at our first proud summit,
the faded clipping:
“Old Man Climbs A Thousand Times”
……………………….. Richard D.

somewhere through
this mountain’s heart —
the sea, crashing
……………………….. Tito

slippery path:
our feet swallowed
by coloured leaves
……………………….. Branko

long legs
short legs
three legs
arse slide
……………………….. Tito

descending Mt Aoba,
light rain turns to hail:
a whispered goodbye
……………………….. Richard

two claps, two bows:
imparting to the god
my full name
and postal code
……………………….. Branko

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between this world and the next —
a gateway framing sky and sea
……………………….. Tomiko

by the slack silver harbour
a fisherman offers me his rod —
I catch his smile
……………………….. Tito

a globefish
dances around my float:
its tantalising orbit
……………………….. Tomo

acorns scattered
all over the herb garden —
immune from the nuclear plant?
……………………….. Kyoko

raucous poets —
hold the pickled mackerel,
pass the persimmon liqueur!
……………………….. Ursula

autumn mountain jaunt —
honouring my ursine name
with bear-like sleep
……………………….. Ursula

*slideshow photos by Tito, Branko, William, Richard & David