About us

The Hailstone Haiku Circle is a group of poet friends – some Japanese and some foreigners – mostly living in the Kansai area of Japan, where both Basho and Buson were born and died. We meet regularly to study, compose and share English haiku, tanka and related art forms, amongst which are haiqua (haiku quatrain), cirku (circular haiku), haibun (prose with haiku), ginko-no-renga (linked verse made after a composition stroll), haiga (illustration with haiku) and haipho (photo with haiku). We have a lively events schedule and publish anthologies: most recently, ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Persimmon’.

The Icebox has now become our chief website. Please see Blogroll link to the Hailstone Hotspot for its predecessor. Leave a comment below a post, if you wish! For Hailstone Haiku Circle contact details, see our events and publications pages. For general enquiries, please use the reply box below. Add your email address (using ‘at’ instead of @), and we’ll respond as soon as possible. Kindly leave messages about others’ haiku contests and promotions on the page of that name and not here! Click on the ICEBOX top panel to return to the top page.

54 responses to “About us

  1. Your own website is one of my favourites in my news aggregator. In the meantime I have set up a website with all the Hyakunin Isshu poems.
    I am studying Japanese and am fascinated by those waka poems. For me this website is sort of a workbook, that I want to improve and develop further. So anyone with ideas, comments, advise, corrections is welcome. A blog was set up specifically to allow comments.
    Thanks and best regards,
    Hetty Litjens

  2. Dear Stephen Gill and friends
    Jonah Salz suggested I contact you. I am a poet and academic (at Salford University UK) and previously spend 7 years teaching at Kanazawa University. I have a sabbatical coming up in 2009/2010 and wish to apply for funding to spend about one month in Kyoto (probably Feb/March/or April 2010) to study Japanese aesthetics of space, silence and shape (ma). Do you know yet of any events I could partake in at that time, since haiku are very relevant to this study, both the composition, reading and performance of them? Or of any conferences or university contacts?
    I would be most grateful
    All the best
    Judy Kendall

    • Hello Judy…

      I taught at Kanazawa University too for a while and knew some of the people you did there… I’m now a colleague of Jonah Salz as it happens…. no doubt he’s already told you of Michael Lazarin who works with me and is doing a study of ma. It seems you already came to Kyoto earlier in the year, which is a pity as I didn’t see this post before but if you come back again it would be great to get you along to a Hailstones event. One month in Kyoto seems far too short if you’re studying Japanese aesthetics: why not make it a year?!
      John D.

  3. I hope this message finds you well.

    I have uploaded to the Internet a beautiful set of
    piano poems entitled, “Haiku for Piano.” I used a
    5 – 7 – 5 rhythmic structure for the poems, borrowed
    from the syllabic structure of a traditional haiku.

    I was hoping you would post a notice to your web site / blog.

    To have a listen, simply go to your favorite music site —
    iTunes, Napster, Lala.com, Amazon.com, Shockhound, or
    Emusic — and search for:

    prahas haiku

    Thank you so much for your consideration.

    With warmth,

    –Prahas David Nafissian

    • Hello,

      Is this by some chance the David Nafissian who attended Wesleyan in the 80’s?

      If so, boy have we scoured the planet for you. Your ‘Little Brother; Jesse just turned 31. Makes you feel old don’t it? : )

      I’m still in touch with Shawn’s Big Brother, he’s in Boston and we have both looked for you.

      If this isn’t the same David Nafissian, my apologies.

      Blessings & Joyous Howls,

  4. Dear Friends

    I chanced upon a Haibun about a year back. Haiku was familiar since schooldays but this new form attracted me more. That discovery created its own trail, provoked me to make further studies, research and finally forced me to attempt writing some Haibuns myself.
    I was looking for a foundation and thus started reading Basho. It was awesome.
    But this led me to search for something more contemporay.
    and then I came across your website. Found it quite authentic, sincere and original.
    Kudos, I must say to this effort!

    I am a poet and I write in Bengali. Haibun as a form seems to me, has maximum potential to enrich our poetic journey, both personaly to me and to a generation of poets who are constantly striving to get a new expression.
    To this your endeavour seems perfectly equipped.

    Thanks for the good work.
    I look forward to see and hear more from you all in the future.

    • Dear Sarbajit,
      Thank you for your kind comments. Please feel free to comment on any posting you wish by clicking on the orange ‘comments’ at the bottom, or leave the occasional haiku in English through the comments/reply box on the Submissions page. I have been to Kolkatta and Darjeeling. I used Tagore ‘fireflies’ poems in a radio programme I once made, and admire other great Bengali artists, too – Satyajit Ray (film) and Velhyat Khan (sitar), Hariprasad Chaurasia (bansuri). One of my own haiku for you, then:
      Pavement cards
      Draws a crowd, a crow
      And the wheel of a rickshaw. (Kolkatta, Apr. 1990)

  5. Dear Stephen,

    It’s been five years since I left Japan and returned to America.
    Though I lived in Kanto all my 31 years in Japan, I have fond
    memories of attending a Hailstones event while on my way to

    On this side of the world, I was Secretary of the Haiku Society
    of America during 2005-06 and am presently 1st VP. I’ll be attending
    Haiku North America in Ottawa, Canada in early August and then visit Japan from September 1-21. I’ve got my flight to Kanto, but I want to
    check with you about your events in Kansai before planning a short
    trip there. When is your September meeting?

  6. Dear Folks,

    Just wanted to let you know of a haiku chapbook competition that my small press runs every two years. Last time we had entries from around the world but none from Japan, so this time I’m trying to find ways to let writers in Japan know about it.

    Our first winner was Michael McClintock’s haiku collection, “Sketches from the San Joaquin.” We’re hoping for an equally strong batch of contenders this year. The deadline is December 1, 2009. For full guidelines, please go to http://www.turtlelightpress.com/Books/chapbook.shtml

    You have a lovely site –hope to hear from some of you. Please feel free to pass word of this contest along.

    Many thanks,


  7. Hello,every member!
    I was introduced your website by Haiku Bandit Society.
    I’ve found your site excellent, so I’ve linked your site with our two blogs.
    One blog is AKITAHAIKU’ , whose address is : http://akitahaiku.blogspot.com/.
    And the other site is ‘Akita International Haiku Network’, whose address is:
    Let me add my sites to your linking sites, and share poetry with you and your poetic friends of your linking sites.
    With my best wishes. Thank you. Hidenori Hiruta

  8. HaikuNow! Free Contest

    Join The Haiku Foundation in celebrating another year of haiku opportunities by entering the first ever HaikuNow! International Haiku Contest 2010. The closing date is March 31st and the winners will be announced at the end of April, National Poetry Month. This contest is free and open to all poets of any age and experience. Three categories: and prizes of $100.00 for first place and $25.00 for honorable mentions. Go to http://www.thehaikufoundation.org/contest/haiku-now-contest-2010/#submit for entry forms and more information.

  9. Greetings!

    Join Us!!!

    “2010 Haiku Pen Contest” – Open!


    Only previously unpublished haiku poems accepted. Seeking high quality haiku poetry. There is no theme for this contest. Please type “Haiku Pen” in subject line to avoid deletion. Enter as often as you like by email (no attachments please) or by snail mail and you can make 1 total payment by paypal, US check or US money order. Snail mail entries must be postmarked by April 15, 2010 to qualify.

    Entry Fee: $2.00/haiku or $7.00/ collection of 5 haiku

    Winners and Honorable Mentions will be posted on website.

    Requires first rights, electronic rights and possibly publication reprint rights.

    Open January 15, 2010 – April 15, 2010


    1st Place Prize – $ 100.00 (US) & Certificate
    2nd $ 50.00
    3rd $ 20.00

  10. Hello poetry folk,

    I used to live in Kumano in Mie Prefecture for three years teaching English, studied Japanese at Doshisha University, and anyways now I am considering moving back to Japan from America to accept a teaching position at a Christian school in Osaka. Looks like I’ll be visiting the school in January for a week to check out how things are over there. I am interested in writing haiku and is there anybody in Osaka area I could contact while I’m there and maybe sit and talk with them about your group and what you do? Thanks.

  11. Hello,

    I am a big fan of Haiku poetry. I’d like to find out if you have any poetry reading activities that I could join? I plan to travel to Japan next year (2012) to coincide with actitivies that your group may have.

    Thanks and regards.
    Sam Tongson

    • Dear Sam, just check the Events page on this site a month or so before you plan to come over. Apart from the regular evening seminars – probably 2nd Thurs. April onwards – we usually only plan events a month or so ahead. By all means contact us again through this reply facility if in doubt. There may or may not be an event for you to join in Feb/Mar. Still don’t know! Cherry blossoms are late March to early April and that usually means an event.

  12. Hello,
    I’m an artist based in San Francisco, and I’m working on a project combining photography, art and Haiku. The title of the project is a quote from Basho:
    ‘“One should know that Haiku is made by combining things.”[a quote by Basho]’.

    I will be in Japan in October to meet with Haiku poets interested in collaborating with me. I’d be happy to send more information about my project to anyone in your organization that’s interested. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Kind Regards, Laurie

    • Laurie,
      Thanks for your message. You will have seen from the pages of the Icebox that we cultivate a form, haipho, or photo haiku. I am an artist-poet and over the years have often used haiku (printed or spoken) and photos to compliment the stone arrangements I show in the gallery. If you come to Kansai (Kyoto-Osaka area) in October, it would be good to meet.

  13. Pingback: deep kyoto » Blog Archive » Ginko-no-renga in Iwakura

  14. Hello there

    My name is Subhadassi, and I am a poet & artist living in the UK. I have been practising renga for over a decade (I learned it from Alec Finlay) and in the past year I have had a desire to take my engagement with it further. In October last year, a colleague and I ran a “Renga for Japan” in Regents Park, London the proceeds of which were donated to AVN311.

    I really appreciated Stephen H Gill’s Radio Piece ‘The Narrow Road to the Disaster Zone’, and it is for this reason that I am getting in touch here, as I goggled his name and found this site.

    …As part of the UK Cultural Olympiad, alongside my colleague Fiona Lesley Bennett, I have been given a small grant to develop a ‘renga exchange’ project working with young people in SE England and Japan over the summer / autumn, and I plan to come to Japan in October / November to do some renga and also hopefully deepen my understanding of renga.

    As part of my trip I am very keen to meet with practising haiku / renga poets. It is to this end that I am writing here…any help, tips, suggestions as to how I might do this welcome! (I have not visited Japan before and my connection with Japan is really mainly through medieval Japanese poetry…and Nikon cameras!)

    Thanks very much


    • Dear Subhadassi,
      Thank you for getting in touch and glad you liked my recent radio programme. I know Alec, a real live wire! Once supervised a renga on his platform in the North. We occasionally do it here in Kyoto, too. OK, let’s try to work something via email. Will be in touch using that method. My haiku name is Tito, by the way.

  15. Congratulations on the Kanterman Award for Best Anthology! I find your website very intriguing and love the idea behind this anthology. Are copies still available for purchase? If so, please let me know by email (I am in the US). Doomo arigatoo goziamasu!

    • Thank you for your enquiry, Beverley. Details of how to order are given on the Publications page (accessed via orange page link at top right).

    • I am a great fan of Willie ‘Bandit’ Sorlien’s haiku. He occasionally leaves something here.
      The best way to become an Icebox Contributor is to get to know us and allow us to get to know you, i.e. firstly leave comments on others’ posts and an occasional haiku or two on the Submissions (New) page. See if you can have a few chosen for our regular ‘inbox’ feature.
      We have had problems recently with sending out invits to expand our list of formal contributors, but we’ll have another look at the WordPress software and rethink later this year.
      Will be sure to visit your site in the meantime, Adelaide.

  16. Pingback: Haiku group outing | Writers In Kyoto

  17. Good morning,

    I am a contemporary fine artist based in the Cotswolds, England.

    I am looking for a professional translator specialised in poetry, who would like to translate three Tanka poems from Japanese into English, and a poetic collection of short and free compositions from English into Japanese.

    This work is part of a participatory and international project developed by writers and contemporary artists.

    I would appreciate your help.

    Kindest regards
    Diana Evers

    • As one of the eds, I will ask around for you, but the timing is not the best for two of the most likely takers. If anyone is interested in trying to help you out, no doubt they will first leave a message here. Best think of this site as a ‘long shot’ for your present purpose, I guess.

  18. I wou;ld be happy to do the Japanese to English translations of the 3 tanka,but not the English to Japanese collection.
    Amelia Fielden

  19. Thank you, Amelia, for your response.

    I just came back from holidays, therefore the delay in contacting you.

    It is good to know that you can translate Tanka poetry from Japanese into English and I will remember that for the future, but unfortunately in this case I need a translator who is happy undertaking the English collection of short compositions as well.

    I wish you the best.

    Diana Evers

  20. Please add our contest to your calendar. If you need something else from us, please let me know.
    Thank you, Kate C Gaston, ukiahHaiku Festival Committee

    Calendar Entry
    Postmark Deadline for Entries: March 17, 2017
    The Jane Reichhold Memorial International Prize
    15th Annual ukiahHaiku Festival
    Open to Adults planet-wide. Includes category in Spanish, Sumisioines Regionals de Hiaku En Espanol.
    All entries are free.
    Annual Festival Celebration will be Sunday April 30, 2017, 2:00 pm, at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Ave, Ukiah, California.
    Separate categories also include regional contests for both children and youth and adults. All work is requested to be previously unpublished and original work by author submitting.
    For more information, please see our website:

    • Kate, instead of here, the ‘About Us’ page, kindly post this ad onto the ‘Others’ Promotions/Contest’ page (page link at top right of our top page). I will then erase the ad here as it’s not appropriate to this page. Thanks and I hope you get some more entries.

  21. I am trying to find an email for John McAteer, my high school English teacher 45 years ago – who spent many years with Peggy and his family in Japan. If someone there has contact info for John, I would be grateful if you would send him my email address. I was in one of his senior English classes in – gasp – 1971-72. I just cannot find a contact for him anywhere….and I am not on Facebook.

    Thanks so much,


    • If you leave me your email address here, Susan, I will email you John’s own email address. I shall erase your next reply as soon as I see it, so there will be no permanent record of it here. Hope this helps.

  22. Hello, Hailstone Haiku Circle members! I’m writing from Spain, I’m the editor of Haiku & Haibun Magazine, an on-line non-profit journal devoted to expand and promote the appreciation of these poetic genres in Spanish language. I would like to know if it would be possible to publish in our magazine the work of some of your poets…

    Anyway, congratulations for your excellent site and high quality of your poetry!

    Juan F. Trillo
    Haiku & Haibun Magazine


    • Dear Juan, Sorry for the delay in replying to your enquiry. I’ve just arrived back to Kyoto from abroad. Let me think about this and get back to you via email.

  23. Hi!- I contact you from Córdoba, Argentina. I´m a haiku researcher and haiku writer and I´d like to know how can I submit my haiku for your consideration.
    I´m very happy to have discovered your page.
    best wishes,
    Prof. Julia Guzmán

    • Dear Julia, just submit a few haiku every now and then through the reply box on the ‘Submissions 5’ page, reached by clicking the orange page link at top right of our top page. (To get to the top page at Icebox, just click the header photo of hailstones.) Bilingual submissions are also OK. Thanks for your interest.

  24. Greetings from Akita!

    I was hoping to publicize some of Akita International Haiku Network’s recent going’s-on through your site. Above it says “Kindly leave messages about your own haiku contests and promotions on the page of that name and not here!” –>But where is that exactly?


    • Just click ‘Others Contests / Promotions’ link in the orange page link list at top right of our top page. Then type into the reply box there whatever details you wish. Click publish. That’s the best we can do. Good luck!

  25. Dear Tito

    Just wanted to run a request past you concerning copyright permissions on some elderly British Haiku Society postcards that we have in our collection. If you can drop me a line at the attached email address at your convenience, I’d be grateful.

    With thanks and best wishes

    Russell Thompson
    National Poetry Library, London

    • Short answer: yes. If you post this question again as a comment beneath the Genjuan 2020 post on the top page, I might feel like saying more, as it’s an interesting question but lost here on a page about the Hailstone Haiku Circle! Thank you anyway. How much nicer to have an identity with a comment rather than just ‘Anon’.

  26. Dear Tito:

    I chanced upon this blog and the quality of work I see here is amazing. I am primarily a senryu poet. I wanted to ask you what is the rules and history of the ‘haiqua’ that you’ve created?

    I’ve been reading your examples and they are remarkable. I remember encountering 4 lined #hokku in Basho’s “North Road to the Interior” by Nobuyuki Yuasa. I fell in love with those four liners.

    I remember haiku poet, Alan Summers suggesting I experiment with writing Senryu in four lines, a sort of ‘Senqua’ if you will.

    I look forward to any insight you could give and thank you for such beautiful and meaningful work.



    • Thanks for the interest, Shonin. Glad you’ve found us. Feel free to leave supportive comments any time or to submit work via the comments stream here: https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/submissions-8-new-ones-here/ You can access it anytime from the Submissions link near the top of our top page.
      As to ‘history’ of the haiqua. Yes, I coined the term to mean haiku-style quatrain or ‘haiku poem’, broadly indicating that I like poetic personality in haiku and dislike haiku that could have been written by anyone. Nobuyuki Yuasa, who is also an editor of this Icebox site, used the form in his trans. of Oku no Hosomichi (Basho’s classic travel sketch) and other works. I encountered those translations when I was 17 or 18 and soon made the style my own. In early years of British Haiku Society, a few other poets experimented with the form, but it was probably only stubborn old me who persisted in the journey. I do write 3-line haiku, too, though.
      There are a couple of well-known Japanese poets – Takayanagi Shigenobu and Hayashi Kei, who also have regularly used the 4-line form in Japanese. Very few translations exist of their work in English, however. It’s no. 6 or 7 on my list of things to do!
      I enjoy the additional opportunities the extra line affords for creating contemplative break or musical pause. It would be nice to see some of your own work.

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