10th-anniversary Annual Autumn Haike

near Kukai’s spring

a wild boar in the darkness –

eve of pilgrimage

(Kim)

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!

(Tito)

…. 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

(Richard)

…. 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

fire

flares into passion

(Ursula)

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.

(Tito)

.

.

.

.

.

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)

About these ads

5 Responses to “10th-anniversary Annual Autumn Haike”

  1. Terrific account, images, and poems!

    Some of my favourite verses:

    pilgrim path
    the man coming the other way
    has cleared the spiders’ webs
    (Kim)

    the incense-lady rests
    a Buddha-engraved stone
    on the 10,000 yen note

    (Ursula)

    That old chestnut
    In a grove of conifers –
    How it takes the breeze!

    (Tito)

    kohl-pencilled moon
    over Eko-in temple –
    seeking erasure

    (Richard)

    But I thought all the verses were great, and I love the account of this adventure.

    all my best,

    Alan, With Words

  2. Richard Donovan Says:

    I appreciate your enthusiasm, and thanks for highlighting your favourite poems. Aptly enough, given that we are the only two Hailstone members to have attended the first and tenth Haikes, Tito took the first three photos, and I the last two; he wrote the first day’s account, and I the second.

  3. What a delight to read this account! Thank you for taking the rest of us with you in this way.

  4. Thank you for sharing your poems and your experiences. We who live far away must be satisfied with joining you vicariously through your words on these pages.

    David

  5. Thanks Richard /Stephen for this report. I enjoyed the mystery, mood, and humor conveyed in some of these poems. I think the incense-lady poem by Ursula is particularly interesting. I picked up two readings here. Each depends on the verb “rests” . One reading could be as a sentence. Another reading could be with the first line as an independent image by making a pause here, or break; followed by lines 2 and 3 as a second image. For me, both of these readings capture a humorous scene in the context of perhaps attempting to secure spiritual favors?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 402 other followers

%d bloggers like this: