Kompukuji Ginkō

Kompukuji (金福寺), near Keizan Ichijōji Station in Higashiyama, Kyoto, was founded in 864, and is the site of the Bashō-an (芭蕉庵), a hut that the poet visited in 1670 and that was afterwards dedicated to him. Yosa Buson (与謝蕪村) and his disciples helped restore the hut in 1760. On Buson’s death in 1783, his disciples erected a tomb on the hill overlooking Bashō-an and its adjacent well. Thus this little-known temple is something of a mecca for poets!

We were fortunate, then, that it was quiet on the Saturday afternoon (3 December) when we 15 Hailstones visited, led by Tito. We were able to take our time, even sitting on the engawa (perching boards) of the hut to compose our responses. The guest of honour was Maeve O’Sullivan of Haiku Ireland.

Thatched with water reeds
topped with maple leaves –
Basho-an, the poet’s hut                       Maeve

Peeling shōji
a corner thumbtack
holds sway                                   Albie

Perhaps it was the fact that the autumnal leaves were a little past their prime that staved off the crowds, but we were still surrounded by rich golden and scarlet hues, the light-blue sky above and the soft greens of the moss at our feet forming a poignant contrast.

Maple leaves
dying beautifully                              Branko

Lantern of Kompukuji’s
soft stillness –
lichen dresses you                             Christine

Footpaths through shadows
leave the bright colors behind –
Buson’s resting place                          Peter

A high wire fence
Through burning maple leaves –
No deer by the gate                            Tito

Framed by the temple gate
Deer and mountain silhouette –
The sinking sun
shika nagara / saneimon ni / iru hi kana
This was Buson’s original, alluded to above in Tito’s haiku.

After our extended visit to the temple, we repaired to Café Anone, near the train station, joined by co-organiser Ursula for coffee and cake and the recital of haiku and haibun.

[Notes: ginkō – composition stroll; shōji – paper window screens]

2 Responses to “Kompukuji Ginkō”

  1. Good selection job, Richard! I especially like Peter’s contribution about entering the shadowy world of the poets’ cemetery, which here is nicely augmented by Maeve’s photo of Buson’s grave. (Anyone can click on the photos to see them more clearly.) Other pics are by Sally, Akira and me.

    The experience of the temple was neatly divided into two halves – the world of the living, including the Bashō-an, surrounded by its ephemerally incandescent maples, and the world of the dead, overlooking all yet shrouded in evergreen shade.

    Thanks, too, to Ursula for arranging the cafe. Maeve is seen at centre-right of the last picture, reading from her smartphone and wearing a pendant.

  2. Nice mixture of the atmosphere of the season, and the current state of Kompukuji. The last group of poems add a few more details to the short prose before it. I liked the range of poetic devices within them (a bit of surrealism, personification, humor?).

    I too think Peter’s poem (5-7-5) is wonderful. It has wordplay, and it suggests variable meanings. For example, are those “bright colors” the hues of the autumn leaves at present? Do the “bright colors” allude to the colorful imagery Buson would include in his poems, or do the “bright colors” allude to the memory of Buson’s work solely as a painter? Furthermore, the phrase “Footpaths through shadows” leads me to other aspects of Buson’s hokku.

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