Archive for September, 2019

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2020

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun, News with tags , on September 15, 2019 by Tito

We are pleased to announce that the Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2020 will be open for submissions from Oct. 1 till Jan. 31 (arriving a couple of days late is usually OK). This year we have a new Officer, Yaeno Azuchi, and therefore a new address: 53-56 Izumigawa-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-0807, Japan. Much gratitude goes to her predecessor in Hyogo, Eiko Mori, for many years of bright, efficient service.

We also have two new Judges, both haiku poets: Akiko Takazawa & Sean O’Connor. Akiko, a disciple of Murio Suzuki (1919-2004), leads the Karinka 花林花 group and lectures on haiku at NHK Gakuen in Tokyo. She is also a fine translator of haiku, both Japanese into English and vice versa. Sean is the author of Even the Mountains – Five Years in a Japanese Village, amongst other memorable books, and has a good grasp of the Japanese view of haiku and haibun. He is also the founding editor of The Haibun Journal, published in his native Ireland.

We must thank the two judges stepping down, Toru Kiuchi and Hisashi Miyazaki, for all their hard work. The latter particularly has made a huge contribution to haibun exchange between Japan and the English-speaking world. His humorous and shrewd judges’ comments will be sorely missed. The most recent compilation of awarded works in the Contest (2015-17), Cottage of Visions, he recently translated into Japanese as イヌピアット語のレッスン Inupiat Lessons, and we are currently selling this book. It makes an excellent Christmas/New Year present for Japanese friends. If interested, leave a comment below (or at the earlier posting), and we can tell you how to order. The book is an attempt to showcase to the Japanese haiku world what ‘haibun’ has become abroad – something of which we can all be proud.

Complete Guidelines for entering the 2020 Contest, which is free, are given here. We look forward to receiving your haibun entries this autumn and early winter.

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The Last of My Wandering Journeys Part V – Lake Okutadami and the Submerged Mine

Posted in Autumn, Haibun, Travel with tags on September 5, 2019 by sosui

I was a bit put off when I saw the long flight of steps in front of me, but a man was howling at me from the entrance of what seemed to be a museum. When I went up to him, he told me that there was a small cable car that could take me to the boathouse on the lake side in just ten minutes, and that the fare was only one hundred yen. I would not have hesitated to take the cable car even if the fare had been ten thousand yen! It enabled me to see the Okutadami Dam from different angles. I was impressed by its height and breadth and by the beauty of the surrounding mountains. In terms of the amount of water stored behind it, this dam is the second largest in Japan. Of course, it was a pity that they had to build a dam in the heart of the mountains, but without this dam, I would never have been able to glimpse their beauty.

…………………… A concrete giant…
…………………… Holding back deep lake water,
…………………… Soundless in autumn.

Arriving at the boathouse, I told the woman in the ticket office that I had booked a boat trip to Oze Guchi and, from there, a bus ride to Oze Miike. The woman said, “Yes, you are Mr. Yuasa, aren’t you? The boat will leave soon. Please walk down to the pier, but take care on the steps.” A boat that could probably have taken fifty people was waiting, but that morning I was the only passenger. I saw an even larger boat in the offing, looking rather like an ocean-going steamboat, and it was moving slowly towards Ginzan Daira, the pier named after the once-flourishing centre of the silver mining. My boat, although smaller, was comfortable enough. It even had a guiding machine, from which I learned a lot about the area and its history.

The scenery was spectacular. The trees were just beginning to change their colours. The lake water was silvery blue and very calm. Overall, I found it somewhat haunting, though. This might have had something to do with the tragic history of the silver mine that now lay at the bottom of the lake. They had had frequent disasters in the mine, and it had finally been closed in 1862. That year, they had accidentally bored into the bed of the Tadami River, and more than three hundred miners had died in the resultant flood.

The mountains changed their shapes and colours as we moved. They became higher and higher; the ridge lines, sharper and sharper. The best view I had from the boat was where the lake divided into two forks and the silhouette of Mt. Arasawa and its range soared above the morning mist. On the promontory that divided the lake were a few white flags. The guiding machine informed me that a shrine was situated there. It had once belonged to a village nearby, which was now at the bottom of the lake. The villagers had moved the shrine to this promontory to save it before they had evacuated.

……………… The water so clear;
……………… Mountainsides, now slightly tinged
……………… With autumn colours.

…………………………………….. The melancholy lake —
…………………………………….. I think I hear the voices
…………………………………….. Of miners below.

……………… White flags still flutter,
……………… Though the villagers are gone
……………… And no house in sight.

…………………………………….. Mt. Arasawa!
…………………………………….. It has a white spot on top,
…………………………………….. Snow or silver ore?

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To be continued …