Archive for November, 2010

Nine floors

Posted in Haiku, No/All season on November 21, 2010 by Mark

“We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking.”—Thoreau

Nine floors below me
A moth flirts with a streetlamp—
Two more cigarettes.

—四条堀川、京都 Midnight  11.21.2010

Hailstone 10th Anniversary Celebration

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Haiku on November 13, 2010 by Tito

Haiku evolved out of haikai-no-renga, a social form of poetry. The social aspect of haiku is certainly an immense charm and strength, yet at the same time could it perhaps be its fundamental weakness, too?

Hailstone Haiku Circle was founded at a ginko-rodokukai event held in Shiga on 11.11.2000, so after the Hibikiai Forum class on Thursday (11.11.2010), a dozen or more of us repaired to ‘Dish’ near Kawaramachi-Imadegawa to celebrate our Tenth Birthday as a haiku association. Over those ten years, we have published six books of poetry (see Publications page, top right). For five of those years, we’ve also been publishing on our internet Hotspot and Icebox, too. We bring poets together, treasuring each individual’s unique take on the world, and we hold a great number of extremely varied events!

Tireless workers, Keiko and Mari, presented Hailstone founder and HF facilitator, Tito, with a box of 小倉山春秋 crackers (to eat with friends on Mt. Ogura) and an ultra-petite red cyclamen. Nice. Yoshiharu Kondo came all the way from Mino. Richard Steiner came all the way from the other bank of the Kamo River. Kiyomi Yatsuhashi dropped in from the sky. A good time was had by all.

Tito ended his brief word of thanks with a haiku by Jane Whittle, one of those recently sent to Hailstone as a greeting from the Red Thread Haiku Sangha in Britain, but he added the word ‘hail’ to her first line:

white hailstone

in the palm of my hand

growing younger

November on Eleventh Street

Posted in Autumn, Haiku on November 8, 2010 by Ellis

So many yellow leaves,
you can see the shape
of the wind.

10th-anniversary Annual Autumn Haike

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Haiku with tags , , on November 6, 2010 by Richard Donovan

near Kukai’s spring

a wild boar in the darkness –

eve of pilgrimage


Kukai’s spring is on the north side of Daikakuji Temple in Kitasaga, 100m from where Stephen used to live. The Hailstone Autumn Haike 2010 was to be at Koyasan, the site of one of Japan’s greatest monasteries, which Saint Kukai had founded in the mountains of Wakayama almost twelve hundred years ago. And so, on the way back from a haiku workshop and meditation for Hailstone in central Kyoto the previous evening,  Stephen took his guest from England, Kim Richardson, to the spring. (They later told us that they had done their first haiku hike together along the Pilgrims’ Way in southern England in 1979!)

First Day, October 15

The following morning, Kim and Stephen made their way across Kansai to Kii-Hosokawa station to walk the last part of the old Choishimichi 町石道 trail up to Koyasan.

…. pilgrim path

…. the man coming the other way

…. has cleared the spiders’ webs

…. (Kim)

That old chestnut

In a grove of conifers –

How it takes the breeze!


…. A Koya bee

…. On a Koya thistle

…. On a Koya road.

…. (Tito)

That evening, the two were joined in Koyasan by Hailstones, Richard Donovan and Ursula Maierl. We ate shōjin-ryōri at Eko-in Temple, where, after haiku-sharing and, in Ursula’s case, a lantern-lit ramble through the medieval cemetery, we bedded down for the night.

kohl-pencilled moon

over Eko-in temple –

seeking erasure


…. the incense-lady rests

…. a Buddha-engraved stone

…. on the 10,000 yen note

…. (Ursula)

Second Day, October 16

Friendly young monks came to collect us for the 6:30 am Shingon service in the main temple hall of Eko-in, followed by the 7:00 fire ceremony in another hall. The many foreign visitors huddled, hushed amid the clashing of cymbals, banging of drums, intoning of sutras, and latter tossing of votive wood into the rising flames.

mudra-making monk’s

precise, polite


flares into passion


After a simple vegan breakfast we made our way through Okunoin 奥之院 Temple’s vast cemetery towards Kukai’s Mausoleum, a helpful local directing us back to Basho’s haiku monument along the way.

…. this moss-encircled stump –

…. bibbed Jizo-sama

…. nestle,

…. cradled within

…. (Ursula)

At Gobyōbashi 御廟橋 Bridge, we parted ways, Ursula and Kim contemplating the holy waters, while Stephen and Richard visited the mausoleum and then attempted to walk part of the encircling pilgrimage trails, with their tantalising glimpses of neighbouring wooded peaks and incipient autumnal tints.

…. in the sacred river

…. stepping stones

…. and the names of the unborn

…. (Kim)

Many the paths,

Few the signs

To Mount Mani:

Crows confused.







We regrouped at a Tibetan vegetarian restaurant for lunch, then toured Kongōbuji 金剛峯寺, the head temple of the Shingon sect. Soon it was time for us to descend Koyasan and make our circuitous journeys home – in Kim’s case, a next-day flight back to England.

Although the first Autumn Haike was not held until 2002, Stephen and Richard were among those who walked the very first Haiku Hike in spring 2000, coincidentally also in Wakayama, along the Nakahechi portion of the Kumanokodō 熊野古道 pilgrimage trail, so it was a privilege for us to celebrate Hailstone’s 10th anniversary in Koyasan. Where will the next Autumn Haike take us?

…. the sesame tofu

…. quivering on chopstick-tips:

…. i n d e c i s i o n

…. (Richard)