‘Green Leaves and Water’: Ginko-no-Kukai at Mino

We chanced on one sunny morning  in the rainy season for our Ginko (June 11), a haiku stroll in the Mino Valley, N. Osaka. Ten poets turned up at the Station, and in less than five minutes we were in a green forest with fresh leaves and a clean stream. We enjoyed the murmuring water, birdsong, cool air, and tree-filtered sunlight. We glimpsed a wedding ceremony at one of the old Japanese-style inns on the way, and gazed up at the huge rock, Toujin-modori-iwa, which, as the legend goes, because of its formidable aspect made a group of Chinese visitors in the Qing Dynasty give up their attempt to reach 33m-high Mino Falls. Eventually, a silver waterfall came into sight. There, a monkey was hiding in the trees, attracting even more visitors than the cascade itself.  After enjoying the Falls, we walked back to the town of Mino, some of us taking a short dip in a hot-spring foot-bath on the way.

That afternoon, we were to hold a Kukai on the pre-selected theme of ‘Green Leaves and Water’ in the newly-opened Ii-ichi-nichi Café, the owner of which, Mr. Kinoshita, was a friend of one of our members. At lunchtime, poets wrote down some of their haiku from the morning’s Ginko, and the scribe and event organizer (yours truly, Akira) chose a few of them to add to the Kukai sheet (part-prepared from submissions already received, including a couple from a poet currently abroad). This sheet soon had 25 haiku inscribed on it (a maximum of two for each participant) and copies were made in a nearby store. Everyone had to choose their favourite (2 pts.) and three other haiku they liked (1 pt. each). The votes were then tallied by the scribe, and over coffee the session chairman, Branko Manojlovic, then read out the winning haiku and asked those who voted for it to say why they had liked it. Soon, we moved onto the runner-up, and so on down the scale of popularity, managing to cover most of the poems that had attracted at least two votes. Tito presented the author of the winning haiku, Hisashi Miyazaki, with a dyed cloth iwana fish. It seemed an appropriate prize for the clear waters of Mino.

we watch the fall–
it watches us,
a lone monkey ………… (Hisashi Miyazaki, 5 pts.)

the last drop poured,
…….. spreading
……….. scent
. of fresh picked tea ………… (*Mizuho Shibuya, 4 pts.)

The Mino Fall/ behind the maple leaves/ a shy monkey
(Teruko Yamamoto, 3 pts.)

Going deep into the greenland/ at its goal/ waterfall’s white spray   ………… (Eiko Mori, 3)

clear water…/ the fish under the bridge/ cooling in the shade   ………… (*Duro Jaiye, 3)

new leaves above and below:/ a cart of three-year-olds/ crossing the mirror paddy ………… (Richard Donovan, 3)

Strolling the valley…/ a faint light on the stream,/ clear still water ………… (Akito Mori, 3)

* authors with asterisks were not present on the day; click on any photo to enlarge

3 Responses to “‘Green Leaves and Water’: Ginko-no-Kukai at Mino”

  1. Ursula Maierl Says:

    ahhh! I would have loved to have seen that lone monkey above the falls!

  2. Richard Donovan Says:

    Thanks, Akira-san, for all your hard work in running the kukai and writing up the report. Congratulations to Hisashi-san for a deserved win and incisive haiku commentary. It was indeed a memorable day in beautiful Mino.

  3. Question: which parts of the English-speaking world use the word ‘the fall’ for a waterfall, I wonder? I am only familiar with the term ‘the falls’. Am I alone in wanting to change the winning haiku’s first line to ‘we watch the falls’? Teruko’s third place poem would be the same revision. Or… do Americans, Australians, etc. use ‘the fall’? While ‘waterfall’ is singular unless there are many, ‘falls’ is surely always plural. I would always say ‘Mino Falls’ although it is a single relatively narrow spread of water.

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