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)

10 Responses to “Nagaoka-kyo ‘Vestiges’ Ginko-Kukai”

  1. First of all, thanks to the Haiku Bandit Society for picking up the gauntlet with such energy and imagination. We recognize great vitality in your work. Secondly, congratulations to the winners!
    This event, coordinated by Willie, Toshi and I, was actually the fourth in a series of international link-up events started in May 2005 by the Hailstone Haiku Circle. Just to remind you of its predecessors: there was a synchronous kukai with the Roses Group in the North of England (Manchester and Osaka linked via internet); and a ginko-no-renga event that began in Yorkshire and finished in a different season in Nara (also with the Roses); then a tan-renga event where we tried to write something on our ginko in Osaka to go with images sent to us by Haiku Ireland from their own near Dublin many months before. This themed ‘Vestiges’ evaluation of each other’s work was perhaps the slickest we’ve done so far. Who and what and how in 2010, I wonder?

  2. Something about the picture of Hisashi and the group smiling evokes a feeling within me…your happiness is my happiness!

  3. Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

    It’s my great honor to be given the first prize here! Grateful for Willie and poets in Haiku Bandit Society! Also for Hailstone Stephen, Toshi and friends! It was a clear day. Under the shade of a camphor tree, I was sitting on the bench very close to the remains of the Great Hall (Daikokuden) where the Emperor’s throne had presumably existed for his governance, and was blankly looking at the red dragonfly drifting over the sun-lit open space of the small park.
    Now I try to translate my haiku into Japanse:
    (aka-tombo / furuki miyako no / kaze no naka)
    Yes, I’m happy, Willie. Arigato, Thanks all again! hisashi
    (The prize bowls are put on show in the whatnot. By the way, I want to know the insect name on one bowl apart from a bee on the other. An earwig?)

  4. Yes, it appears to be an earwig. I will often find them hidden in nooks and fissures of a steel chain link fence in summer, above the ground.
    I wonder why they choose that place? For the coolness, to sample the morning dew?
    We should thank the potter, Katherine Gorman of St. Paul, for her mastery of craft. Don’t you find a wonderful strength and humor in her work? Much the same of all of our fellow haijin in this event.
    I love the story you’ve told of the red dragonfly…I frequently suffer the same type of inspiration!
    During my ginko, I was lured to a hidden spot on the river by some charming woodpeckers. At a quiet bend, the topography suggested it to be the site of landfall for wayfarers for ages, survived through flood and drought. I had a feeling I was not alone, though I heard no one amidst the sounds of autumn, the view through the trees revealing only dappling sunlight and birds flitting teasingly among thick branches, revealing brief flashes of blue, red and white plumage. Who is here, I wondered? And then…a star burst of chattering sparrows!

  5. Thank you so much for organizing this Tito, Toshi, and Willie! I enjoyed the experience immensely. I am deeply honoured and humbled by your selection. There were so many interesting and thoughtful haiku – it was a real joy to read through the entries from both sides.

  6. Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

    Earwig, OK! Here, we often see it in the garden hidden under the flower pot and stone. Yes, Katherine’s crafts are nice and interesting. I like their tasteful colors and warm shapes as well. Your process from woodpeckers to the moment of sparrow burst via ‘sounds of autumn’ pleased us. In this season, we also see a flock of sparrows flying over ripening rice plants or gleaning on the dried paddy field. Thanks.
    Congratulations, Kyle!

  7. My thanks to you all for the honor of participating in this event. It was a wonderful experience for me personally. I enjoyed each and ever poem from both groups.

  8. Hello all,
    Thank you so much for the beautiful pillow! I just received it from Willie yesterday. It was an honor working with the hailstone group… hopefully we can do this again! I really appreciated everyone taking the time to read and critique my haiku. And what lovely submissions from you all!

  9. Thanks, Kyle, Robin and Eric. Your comments and haiku were much appreciated. Those of you who accepted them, glad you liked our prizes, too!

  10. Dear HBS friends,
    I am most thankful to you all for your interest in my ginkgo haiku. A couple of days ago I received the third prize from Stephen — a unique bookmark topped with a frog. On the mat paper the following passage is inscribed:

    “At night I went out into the dark and saw a glimmering star and heard a frog and nature seemed to say, well do not these suffice?” (R.W. Emerson)

    It is full of haiku spirit! Thank you again for such a thoughtful gift.

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