“100 Poets on Mount Ogura, One Poem Each” Publication Celebration

Just past noon on 8th August, in Restaurant Arashiyama’s upstairs dining hall, our latest publication – a joint one with the NPO, People Together for Mt. Ogura – was launched at a lunch party. In spite of very hot summer weather, 36 came. 25 of these were poets with a verse in the book. Akito Mori, Okiharu Maeda and Stephen Gill shared the MC role, and there were speeches that included the reading of  ‘favourite poems’ from the collection.  Maeda chose #78, a Japanese tanka by Akira Daikanyama 空き缶や廃材見つけて拾いつつ / 歌枕の小倉山登る (trans. as)

Finding drinks cans, / builders’ rubbish … / and picking them up: / we climb the Mount of Ogura, / itself a rhetorical word!

Gill chose #71, an English haiku by Michael Jamentz

The Seto Brook trickles … / beneath lush green muck drips / battery acid

trans. as 瀬戸の源流 / 苔色の土に垂れている / バッテリーの酸

Yoshio Kawagoe (whose kiri’e scissor-cut illustrations embellish the book) chose #68, a Japanese haiku by Jin Matsumoto  虫たちの昨日の宴野菊策 (trans. as)

Remains of the party / the crickets had last night: / wild chrysanthemums bloom

Sean O’Connor (who assisted Stephen with selection of the English poems in the book)  chose #24, an English haiku by Moya Bligh

Through the trees, a boat; / glimpse of another world

trans. as 木々の間の / 舟に展ける別世界

The book is the fruit of six years of environmental work on the hill in Western Kyoto, where Fujiwara Teika once compiled the famous Hyakunin Isshu classical waka collection. The mountain is in bad shape, but things have looked up since the formation of PTO. Half the rubbish illegally discarded on the mountain has now been cleared. Volunteers, including more than 30 Hailstone poets, have written verse for the collection over the years. It is one of the first bilingual collections of tanka and haiku, and perhaps illustrates a role for poetry in the future: as a tool in environmental campaigning. Certainly, it is a rich and varied anthology, recording both the delightful and the disturbing faces of this famous, yet long-unloved patch of rural Kyoto.

Purchasing details for the 136-page book are given on our Publications page accessed via top right of the top page. ¥1,400 or $ 15.  Some of the money raised through sales will go towards continued nature conservation there.


5 Responses to ““100 Poets on Mount Ogura, One Poem Each” Publication Celebration”

  1. Congratulations! Bravo! Can’t wait to read it… e.

  2. ヘイルストーン俳句サークルの皆さまへ







    そうじして きれいな道が きもちいい(9歳、#66)

    びかかつどう ちきゅうきれいに なってよね(7歳、#88)




    Through the trees, a boat;
    glimpse of another world


    前田 興治 拝

    • THIS IS AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION (slightly abridged) OF OKIHARU MAEDA’S MESSAGE TO HAILSTONE (above). He is the Chairman of People Together for Mt. Ogura.
      Dear Hailstone Haiku Circle,
      I am very grateful for your collaboration with the publication of our book, ‘100 Poets on Mt. Ogura, 1 Poem Each’, and for the production of our recent book launch party.
      As I wrote in my Foreword to the book, my own encounter with Mt. Ogura was through my encounter with Stephen Gill. The project we launched to revive Mt. O. started from his enthusiasm and energy. I met him six years ago. He has a straight-from-the-heart poet’s vision of Mt. Ogura, which I appreciate; and so we began to walk together along the way of natural conservation. Although at times it seemed as if the project might hardly be moving, little by little we have created a force with critical momentum.
      Haiku and tanka are a very important part of Japan’s traditional literary expression, and as such should be treasured and passed on to future generations. I feel, however, that there must be only a few organizations like your own, which seems to understand the importance of poetic expression as part of culture as a whole. Real Japanese culture, I feel, is under grave threat. The book we have just published clearly shows the vital relationship between culture and ecology.
      Having just been cleaned, / the mountain path – / how good it feels! (#66, written by a 9-year-old)
      We clean up this mountain: / our whole Earth, too / please become clean (#88, by a 7-year-old)
      Young, old, male, female – so many offered us their poems. Some of these were in English, too. Through many of them, we are given an insight into the plight of the natural world, as represented by Mt. Ogura.
      It would have been easy just to think, “I am really very small and can do nothing about this”, but we felt something really had to be done.
      To have a group like Hailstone, where many Japanese and resident foreigners can get together to focus on haiku, is a valuable thing. Long may it thrive!
      I would also like to mention, as Sean O’Connor did, the late Moya Bligh.
      Through the trees, a boat; / glimpse of another world
      Through the wooded slopes of Mt. Ogura, even now we are trying to see that new world. Thank you, Moya, for these words.
      My thanks and respect to Stephen, too.
      Okiharu Maeda
      Thank you for your appreciative words, Okiharu. Hailstone are equally grateful to you and others within PTO for the essential part you played in the creation of this book. We just hope that readers will enjoy it… (SG)

  3. Richard Donovan Says:

    As one of the contributors, I’m very much looking forward to purchasing a bunch of copies when I return to Japan and following the others’ verbal paths across the mountain. Kawagoe-san’s cover marvellously captures some of the many faces of Mt Ogura.

    Thanks to Okiharu-san and Stephen for their tireless advocacy of the mountain. I’ll be joining you up there some time soon to start removing the other half of the rubbish.

  4. I too look forward to reading the poems in this collection. And how wonderful to have Moya (poem #24) continue to share with us… “glimpse of another world”

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