Archive for October, 2011

The Spirituality of Haiku

Posted in Event report, Haiku, Japanese Classic with tags on October 31, 2011 by John Dougill

I wonder if I could draw members’ attention to a piece on my blog… It includes a short account of the classical-style renku session at
Kitano Tenmangu last Saturday, put on as part of Kyoto City’s Bunka-sai, followed by a quotation about the spiritual nature of haiku which I think practitioners might find inspirational.
Please see here. Thank you, JD.

Gods & Buddhas Forest Walk in Nara

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Haiku on October 28, 2011 by Tito

As the Lord of the Forest stepped into a sunbeam, we stood there spellbound. A fully-antlered stag, with his hinds and fawns nearby, gave us just a single glance: one of many marvellous moments experienced by the Hailstone poets who collected in Nara on 22 October for a composition stroll (ginko) in the primeval forest 原始林 near Kasuga Shrine 春日大社.

Hesitant poets / cross the beck / on freshly-placed stones (Michael L.)

Yellow leaves on the path / through the virgin forest … / soft sunlight (Akito Mori)

Not far from the ancient Shinto shrine is the village of Takabatake, with its treasure of a temple, Shinyakushiji (あらたかな薬師の寺), in which we found a set of magnificent life-size clay statues more than 1,200 years old – the Twelve Heavenly Generals 十二神将.

on the faded clay generals / colours still remain – / akebi wizening (Mizuho Shibuya) 

Fragrance of / the Silk Road – / pomegranates ripen (Kyoko Nozaki)

Lunch was taken sitting on a polished wooden floor in Kanoko Restaurant; and, a couple of hours later, we returned to a cafe around the corner, where we were given a room to ourselves to share what we had written so far. In between, some of the poets wandered off out of town past Shirachi Jinja along the Old Yagyu Road.

At the secluded Shrine / of the White Nipple – / meeting a jovial woman (Tito)

The morning sun had faded into a fine, warm drizzle by late afternoon, so that as we wound our way back to the Floating Pavilion 浮見堂 at Sagi Pond, the still water was very slightly hissing. The quiet, dreamy mood was occasionally interrupted by a noise which, more than three centuries earlier, Basho had described as ‘biiiiii’!

Deer in silhouette / Crying high and low – / Dusk on the pond (Reiko Hayahara)

Three October haiku

Posted in Autumn, Haiku on October 19, 2011 by David Stormer Chigusa

Three haiku, related only by being written this month.

The first is set on Kudanzaka, a slope on Tokyo’s Yasukuni-dori in the vicinity of the Imperial Palace, with Yasukuni Shrine at its top. My partner and I went separate ways, and I could still make him out in the distance, even in half-darkness.

Kudanzaka showed you
All the way down

The second I wrote on the twelfth, the night of this month’s full moon. Nature can save conversation.

What can I tell you
But that tonight’s full moon
Is this year’s smallest

And the final one, this morning – it speaks for itself. (I resisted the temptation to include the f word!)

Too hot, too cold
With or without blankets –
And now a mosquito

Autumn Haiku Hike to the Summit of Mt. Tateyama

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Haiku with tags on October 5, 2011 by Tito

..  コスモスに魅せられ道を迷いけり
…….. From the highway
…….. proceeding to the wrong exit,
…….. charmed by cosmos flowers
……………… (Atsushi Mori, trans. HM)
…… Alright. I admit, the above haiku is about Tito’s van; but all was well in the end, and three cars’ worth of Hailstone poets and poets’ companions piled out, lacing up their climbing boots at Tateyama Station, after the long journey from Kansai to the highlands of Toyama-ken. A cablecar took us first to 美女平 Bijodaira, from where a special reduced-emission bus drove us up to over 2000m and a view out onto the sea of clouds below.
..  秋風は立山杉の吐く息か
…….. Is this the outbreath
…….. of Tateyama’s giant cedars*?
…….. The autumn breeze
………………. (Miki Kotera, trans. SG)

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…… Heading off up the mountain from 室堂 Murodo along a stone-paved trail, wide as a Roman road, by dusk the party arrived at the Pass of  Ichinokoshi 一の越, where we stayed the night in the yamagoya (mountaineers’ hut). A white stew dinner was followed by a boisterous sharing of poems and half-poems. We needed many layers of futons to keep warm.
..  へイルストーン眠るに惜しき天の川
…….. for Hailstones
…….. too enchanted to sleep,
…….. the Milky Way
……………… (Hisashi Miyazaki)
…… David jogged almost to the top of a nearby peak before breakfast. The rest of us started off uphill in a less sporty way. For some, the climb was hard, but nothing as compared with the descent later! It is a very steep path through scree and boulders. At the first summit, there is a small shrine, 雄山神社 Oyama Jinja, in whose tiny walled temenos* an orange-robed priest announced our presence to the mountain kami* through norito (invocation), as we sat, heads bowed, on a pebble carpet that had been brought stone by stone over the centuries by Tateyama’s endless stream of pilgrims.
.. 天高し神の足音聞く祠
…….. High autumn sky –
…….. from a box shrine under it
…….. footsteps of gods
……………… (Sachiko Kawaharada, trans. SG)
…… Lunch was taken at a further peak along the ridge, 大汝山 Onanjiyama, 3015m. From here, we could just make out the cone of Mt. Fuji rising far beyond the jagged skyline of the Yatsugatake Range and the Chuo Alps.
…… Having returned to Oyama, we prepared for the descent, as cloud began to creep in from the south.
…….. Taking our bread
…….. and giving us entertainment,
…….. rock larks*
…….. at an alpine shrine
.. ぼくらのパンをついばんでは/ぼくらを楽しませる/イワヒバリ/高嶺の社に(宮崎訳)
……………… (Tito)
…… Kyoko bought a pilgrim’s staff at the shrine as something to lean on. She soon traded it, however, with another pilgrim for a more lightweight ‘mountain girl’ model! Yes, there were now slips and slides and spills by several, if not all, of the party. These were taken in good spirit and with reassuring words. On the trail, the poets seemed so concerned for others’ welfare that they themselves forgot to stay upright. Well, what’s a good climb – or a ‘haike’ – without a little wear and tear?
…… Cloud lowered itself softly yet firmly over the crest we had been walking on an hour or two before.
…….. one thing remains
…….. from the mountain path –
…….. the scent of last year’s snow.
.. ひとつのものが残りおり/山道から/去年の雪の香(宮崎訳)
……………… (David McCullough)

giant cedars – cryptomeria; temenos – sacred sanctuary; kami – Shinto god(s); rock larks – iwahibari, a type of accentor