Archive for September, 2011

Kikakuza Haibun Contest ’09-11 anthology available

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Classic, News with tags , , on September 28, 2011 by Tito

 An anthology of decorated haibun from the three years that the Kikakuza International Haibun Contest has been held is now available to anyone attending Hailstone events and seminars this autumn. Price ¥1,000. If you live abroad and would like one sent, kindly make contact via the comments button below or on the Publications page at this site (via link at top right). Or you may contact either of the compilers direct. There may be a small postage charge added. All contestants have already been sent their own copy of the book. It contains 33 contemporary haibun (from 11 countries) + 4 classical haibun translations, judges’ comments, and a Tohoku Earthquake solo shisan renku by Sosui.

 The Contest is to continue this autumn and winter under the new name of the Genjuan International Haibun Contest with rules and deadline unchanged. Full details are given on the page entitled ‘Genjuan Haibun Contest Guidelines’ (see link at top right). The famous haibun Basho wrote while residing at the Genju Cottage in Shiga (幻住庵記) in 1690 is translated into English in this publication.

The Sound of Water (I): Springs and Fountains

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Classic, Tanka with tags , on September 18, 2011 by sosui

Let me begin with the famous poem, traditionally ascribed to Saigyo, in which the poet describes the sound of a spring.

Ceaselessly swelling
Out of a crack in the rocks
A spring trickles down,
Whose water is more ample
Than I can use in my hut.

In the original poem, the poet uses the onomatopoeic expression, ‘toku toku’, which I translated as ‘ceaselessly’ above. Admittedly, this is a very feeble translation. The closest to this expression in English would be ‘drip drip’, but ‘toku toku’ has more force. It conveys the power of nature behind the birth of a spring.

I have seen many different types of springs in the mountains. Some of them just drip down from wet moss and grass. They make a subtle music like the strings of a harp touched lightly. Others swell out of the earth with a heavy sound like the throbbing of a heart. In a way, it is an awe-inspiring sound, for we feel that some mysterious being is pushing up the water. It announces the birth of a river.

A Chinese hermit
Washed his ears in cold water
To forget the world.

Let me vitalize
My whole being with a sip
From this icy spring.

Fountains in Italian cities are completely different. Water gushes from the mouth of animals or some mysterious beings. For example, the Fontana di Trevi has Neptune at its center under a triumphant arch, led by Pegasus and two Tritons, and water spouts out of the animals that follow him. I have also seen a fountain where an ugly human face is pouring out water from a pipe in its mouth. Perhaps, the most extreme case is the Pissing Cupid. No one, I think, wants to drink from him. I suppose his role is purely ornamental. What does all this mean? In my view, it means that fountains in Italy are used as a symbol of civilization. Italian fountains are not at the beginning, but at the end of a long duct which stretches many miles through mountains and valleys. Their position signifies they have been installed for the service of man.

Fontana di Trevi,
Fully dressed women come and go
Chatting and laughing.

In a hot piazza,
The splashing water comes down
With a pleasant noise

Looking for Basho

Posted in Film, Japanese Classic, Summer with tags on September 4, 2011 by Tito

Here is a short film recently made by Hailstone, Lawrence (Jiko) Barrow. When you have watched it, if you have a comment or question for Jiko, please post it here through the ‘Leave a Reply’ box. 日本語でもいいです。Enjoy it!