Gion Festival Reading and Ramble

Late afternoon, 21 July 2018. A dozen Hailstones fell together for a reading in the Museum of Kyoto’s Maeda Café, which used to be a vault of the Bank of Japan, Kyoto branch. At a long table, we took it in turns to read our own, or others’, haibun or haiku sequences.

The programme was:
Branko Manojlovic, 2018 Genjuan GP haibun The Forbidden Pet
Ursula Maierl, haiku Mantis Yoga (from Lost Heian) & sequence Aftershock
Eiko Mori reading David McCullough’s 2018 Genjuan HM haibun Reflections
Mayumi Kawaharada reading Doris Lynch’s 2017 Genjuan GP haibun Season of Snow & Milk
Ayako Kurokawa, haibun Boomerang in the Blue Sky
Hitomi Suzuki, haibun Lanterns on the Water
Kazue Gill reading Tito’s haibun A Scottish Journey
Tito, haiku sequence Roller Coaster (using work by 15 poets; see previous posting)
Four others were present, but did not read.

Evening. After the Café meet was over, most participants went for a short ginko (composition stroll) to enjoy the spectacle of the huge festival yama and hoko floats parked in the nearby streets and lit with tiers of lanterns. Some private houses had opened their windows and doors so that all could see the treasures inside. There were several small shrines to visit down narrow alleys. The Gion Ato-matsuri proved much less busy than the main Saki-matsuri and therefore more conducive to haiku-senryu composition! Many people wore yukata.

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A small sample of the verse that emerged:

Innocent girls chant
a song about their folk talismans –
Gion Festival eve              ………..   (Hitomi)

Divine emissaries*
watching over the Festival crowds –
that pair of turtle doves    ……….. (Mayumi)

Flute players tonight
nearly two stories high
on the deck* of an ancient float       (Duro)

Exploding
earth sensation
of the taro* in my mouth –
a dinner with friends                    ..  (Tito)

.

* emissaries, 使い tsukai messengers of the warriors’ god, Hachiman
* deck, 大船鉾 ofuna-boko boat-shaped float
* taro, 里芋 sato-imo potato variety

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3 Responses to “Gion Festival Reading and Ramble”

  1. Yaeno Azuchi Says:

    a belated reply

    feeling the cool breeze on my back
    I even miss that sweltering evening
    my inconsistent thoughts

    • It was indeed ‘sweltering’, but fine creative fun. If you ‘miss’ it already, we must do something similar again – but next time in a different season. Thanks … (and to Mayumi for helping organize it)

  2. Thanks Stephen and Mayumi for organizing this event. It was nice to be able to stroll around the streets at night where the floats were parked. I used to walk around during the daytime while the workers were putting the floats together but, now I’ve discovered that the Gion Ato-festival seems to be a more relaxing time to get a close-up view of some of the floats, and the artefacts associated with them.

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