Archive for November, 2008

The Green Man

Posted in Autumn, Haibun on November 28, 2008 by Tito


On Saturday 15th, high on Mt. Ogura, he felled five dead pines, dragging each in turn to a timber pool, where he stripped off the branches and dissected the trunks for later removal from the mountain. Pine disease is rife. Two days later, as chance would have it, some tourists spied him high in the branches of an olive tree very near Saga Arashiyama Station, picking a bag of ripe black fruit from precarious branches almost out of reach. The process of pickling them in brine was begun. Tuesday saw him moving through the branches of a fragrant olive (kinmokusei) outside his own bedroom window, pruning the tree severely to let in the light and to rid himself of the pair of mountain pigeons that had recently been roosting there and waking him up with fervent cooing at crack of dawn. On Wednesday, paints were prepared and white card was cut and decorated in preparation for the transcription of poems with which to celebrate a distant special tree.  Then Saturday again, and with two ladders and a dozen other hands, he hung people’s haiku and wishes on the fairy pine tree he’d found (with a squirrel) presiding over Teika’s Vale. This tree had demanded attention, seeming to be drawing about itself the backdrop of the Kitayama hills and autumn-hued Atago to set its own self off. Finally, last Sunday, blessed with fine weather, fifty or so people – including that man – congregated near the Ogura summit to hear poems, compose their own verse, and then inscribe them on the card tags that had been offered to guests. Another vigorous pine with branches to spare was then dressed. After all had gone home, heavy rain fell that night and a wind blew. But for a short while longer, it is said, the fairy tree will bear those fading, ragged poems … and the man will stay on earth.

…………………….松杉をほめてや風のかをる音 (芭蕉)

The pines and the cedars

Are praised by the wind

……As it blows on through.             (Basho)p1080531

Autumn Haike — Kumano Kodo 熊野古道

Posted in Autumn, Event report on November 15, 2008 by Richard Donovan


On the morning of 31 October Tito and Richard ventured back into Wakayama, taking a Super Kuroshio express train to Kii-Tanabe and then a bus through Yunomine to Hongu, the end-point of the two-day first leg of our journey along the Kumano Ancient Road from Takijiri-oji back in 2001. After paying our respects in leaden weather at the Hongu Taisha, we visited the site of the original shrine on a river island. All the pilgrim trails of Kii used to lead here.

bereft brothers of the branch

….on the blank grass bank

….where once stood shrines of Kumano

….a wagtail bows   (Oyunohara, Hongu, day 1, Richard)

We walked along the bank of the Kumano River for a few kilometres, then up a tributary from Ukegawa, reaching Kawayu by dark, and enjoyed river hotspring bathing that evening and the next morning, along with warm hospitality at the otherwise-empty minshuku Sumiya. John Dougill joined us for breakfast; then the three of us set out in perfect conditions on a six-hour stretch of the Ancient Path over to Koguchi.

John and Richard

….Ah, Kumano!
….The waists of slender cypress
….Sashed with morning light.   (nr. Matsubata Chaya-ato, day 2, Tito)


….Backing up the slope
….Towards the gentians,
….A frog …
….In the mouth of a snake.   (Kogumotori Pass, day 2, Tito)

Whoever was in front at the time had disturbed one of three snakes we saw that day. John evidently preferred encounters with the pilgrim sentinels on the Path.

mountain-top jizo

….Jizo stands aloof
….Above the piled rocks –

….Rotting persimmon   (Hyakkengura, day 2, John)

We spent the night in lonely luxury – each a large tatami-mat room to himself – at the Koguchi Shizen-no-Ie; then, the morning of day 3 John left us, and we set out on the toughest section of the Path over Ogumotori (Big Cloud-taking) Pass.

….sunning our backs

….above Gut-Busting Slope –

….my leg says “bee!”   (Dougirizaka, day 3, Richard)

Tito on the ancient trail

The stones of the ancient trail were beautifully worn, looking much as they must have done when in regular use hundreds of years ago. But the terrain was dry until we had cleared all the mountain passes.

….Nearing Nachi
….Water runs …
….Rocks wear moss
….Like green hair.   (Nachikougen, day 3, Tito)

Nachi Falls

Tito’s travel friend Naoya Nakano joined us at Nachi Taisha. The 133-metre falls were spectacular, the sub-shrine near the base a place for quiet reflection on the arduous day’s walk. After a night at the bizarre but cave-bath-equipped Urashima Hotel, we attempted the final leg of the Path from Katsuura to Shingu.

….古道の時の流れを 苔と共に王子塚
.The days of the Old Road
continue to roll: a prayer station covered with moss.  (Sano-oji, day 4, Naoya)

Naoya and Tito in Katsuura Bay

If only there had been more of the Old Road left, for apart from the short forested stretch of Takanozaka and some beautiful beaches accented by jumping mullet, much of the trail has been converted to highway. Eventually, we dragged our weary legs into Shingu, but Richard had to return to Kyoto without paying respects at the final destination of Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine. There, Tito and Naoya offered up a prayer on behalf of all ten pilgrims who had participated in the two halves – 2001 and 2008 – of our Kumano pilgrimage, now complete.

….Leaving his shears
….On the doorstep stone
….The priest fetches us …
….A small surprise!   (Asuga Jinja, Shingu, day 4, Tito)


Posted in Autumn, Haibun on November 11, 2008 by Hisashi Miyazaki


(Cape Ashizuri, Kochi Pref. Photo, At. Mori)

September song, so lonely: however, fish become active as they find the summer heat has stopped, and their appetites grow in preparation for the coming cold season. Anglers, too are happy.


(first snow on Mt. Yarigadake, Nagano Pref.)

October. Up in the alpine thickets, ptarmigans are getting whiter. Hikers are happy soaking in the hot springs below.

And already, kaminazuki, November!

….email radio waves

….crossing in space:

….the gods are absent

Saturday morning

Posted in Haiku, No/All season on November 7, 2008 by Gilad


Saturday morning wake-up


and then a first rain

in the fall

Posted in Autumn, Haibun on November 6, 2008 by Richard Steiner

It’s November, yet we have warm rains, balmy days, zephyrs at our elbows, and the promise of another harvest moon.

….what will it be,

….short sleeves or down vest?

….puzzled, I run naked thru dreams

Back pains from too much endless hauling around of exhibition paraphernalia, the doc says I just need to walk more. Aromatherapy oils rubbed in here and there, I smell like a drugstore in heat.

….simple: don’t haul, just

….load up shoulders and walk

….thru the odors smiling

Could be worse.

Three steps

Posted in Haibun on November 1, 2008 by Nori

As my hometown is Matsuyama, Ehime, I’d like to introduce a wonderful haiku by Fukio Shiba (1903-1930), who was born in the western Ehime countryside. One of his greatest works – and my personal favorite – is

…. あなたなる 夜雨の葛の あなたかな

…. Anata naru yozame no kuzu no anata kana

…. In a far-off place

…. Wet arrowroot in the dark

…. And you.

It’s difficult to translate; very surrealistic.

From the end of July I worked for a time at a plant in Kagawa Prefecture in an industrial area at the foot of Seto Ohashi Bridge.  It belongs to the same Inland Sea coast as my hometown, Matsuyama, but is completely different in character. I worked to liaise between German and Italian technicians and local Japanese mechanics – the one, with broken English; the other, with strong Japanese dialect!

…..Gigantic steam machine –

…..In heavy work shoes, my ankles

…..Click with every step.

And now, I’m based in Hawaii.

…. Back to summer –

…. Icing

…. For my first Halloween.