Nagaoka-kyo ‘Vestiges’ Ginko-Kukai


Robin Beshers ginko-ing


At work on the Nagaoka-kyo site

On 27 September in Muko City, Kyoto, some of us took part in a linked event with the Haiku Bandit Society based in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. That day, Muko was bustling with bicycle racing fans, not to mention a band of six Hailstone poets. They were betting and we were composing.


Toshi leads the imagination tour

In the lingering heat, we spent a few hours visiting the ruins of the ‘phantom’ capital of ancient Japan. There are almost no structural remains to look at: only a few plots of preserved ground and mounds covered with summer grass. This was going to be an imagination exercise!


Willie, knees muddied with vestiges

After strolling around the site composing, and having eaten a soba lunch, we used a room in the Community Hall for a workshop, where we discussed which of our poems to send the Bandits. Some poets’ pens streamed smoothly, others sluggishly.


Kneeless Tito and persimmon

Meanwhile, the Bandit poets were going on their own ginkos – in Minnesota, Tennessee, Canada, and California – and focusing on ‘vestiges’ of their own. For more details, see the link to the H.B.S. site (in Blogroll). The poems were collated by Hailstone Stephen and Bandit William and sent across for reading by the other group. Prizes were also bought and sent. Over the next fortnight, using email, Bandits and Hailstones voted and supplied comments (kukai style) to arrive at a favourite selection from the partner group’s pieces. These were then duly collected and relayed to the other side for their mutual benefit, as both groups try to grow in their understanding of the expression and spirit of haiku.


Hisashi unwraps his prize at the YBC

The comments received on each of our poems from people far across the ocean whom we have never met are indeed treasured goods. So, here are the results:


1. the emperor’s governance:

a dragonfly patrols it

in the breeze

…… (Hisashi Miyazaki, Osaka)

2. Nothing to mark

The cursed capital –

Loosestrife flowers

…… (John Dougill, Kyoto)

3. The Court is gone –

Still the ginkgo tree yields

Its golden nuts

…… (Toshi Ida, Kameoka)


1. first kiss

the statue of a prime minister

holding his lapel

…… (K.A. Martin, Ottawa)

2. a thousand voices

and then…

autumn sparrows

…… (William Sorlien, St. Paul)

3. indian summer

jerusalem artichokes

mark the camp

…… (Eric V, San Francisco)

From the Icebox moonbox 9

The huge October moon has cast its spell.

Here are some recent submissions inspired by the harvest moon and by the last flickers of summer.

harvest moon
halcyon days
in river town

…. Willie

Takeshi’s tuna –
Its skin, burnt on the roof
Makes a ring
Around the moon

…. Tito

harvest moon
the cupboard space surrounding
a tin of deviled ham

…. Ed Markowski

his death wish
a moth plunges
into the flame

…. Vic Gendrano

Midnight nears
memories of distant Japan
and poet friends…

…. Jane Wieman