It is unusual to use Japanese language for the title of a posting, but this is a Japanese language book! For those of you who cannot read Japanese, the title says “Inupiat Lessons”, taken, with permission, from Doris Lynch’s Genjuan Haibun Contest 2015 Cottage Prize-winning haibun reproduced in Jap. trans. on page 22 of the book. It is about her experiences while living in Kivalina, in northwest Alaska. The original English haibun was reproduced on p.10 of the recent Genjuan anthology, “From the Cottage of Visions“. The new 176-page book is basically a Japanese translation of the earlier English language book, pub. by Hailstone. It has been translated and edited by Hisashi Miyazaki with assistance from Stephen Henry Gill and Nenten Tsubo’uchi. It includes new greetings/foreword by the Contest’s two founders, Nobuyuki Yuasa & SHG (Tito), a new afterword by NT, and an augmented overview of haibun history can be found within HM’s new appended Commentary. This is an attempt to awaken the interest of Japanese readers in haibun, which, as a literary form, although of Japanese origin, has in recent decades mainly been developed overseas. It is fascinating to see what foreigners have made of a Japanese genre. The obi (yellow paper band wrapped around the book) says enticingly, “Haibun? What is that?” (NT).

The book was published in April 2019 by Zonomori Press 像の森書房 in Osaka. It is available from Amazon Japan here or from Hailstone here . It costs ¥1,500 if you buy it at a Hailstone seminar or event or in a bookshop in Kansai. It might be of interest to some Japanese readers to compare the original English found in “From the Cottage of Visions” with the Japanese text in “Inupiat Lessons”. Please support this project, financed largely by donation, including one from Hailstone. Get your copy while they last!

Oyamazaki Ginko-no-renga

May 20, 2017 (please see the preceding post, “Spring at the Edge”)


A clear sky …
sprouting green leaves
breathe with us                                                    (Akito)

The sound of ice
being dropped into a glass                                    (Tito)

Beside the hot train tracks
the old man mutters
“Don’t hog the shade!’                                           (Richard)

Three rivers join and flow –
Hideyoshi’s proud pagoda                                      (Eiko)

Only the red roof left,
the museum returning
to nature’s green                                                  (Hiroko)

Birdsong carried
by stream ripples                                                   (Akira)

At Takara Temple
recalling Soseki –
an early summer breeze                                          (Teruko)

Distilled on Mt. Tenno
“Angel’s Share”                                                      (Kyoko)

The girl counts out
twelve visitor cards at reception –
cool interior                                                            (Hisashi)

in the western window                                            (Kayo)

A black swallowtail
visits the Siberian irises –
afternoon heat                                                        (Eiko)

Until the liquid turns amber
long way to go                                                        (Noriko)

Enma and his fierce men:
heaped before them
fruits, jellies, just desserts                                        (Eiko)

Slippery on this steep slope
pilgrims’ straw sandals                                            (Noriko)

A mayfly lands
on my handlebars –
the luminous day                                                    (Tito)


Ed. by Hisashi Miyazaki and Richard Donovan

New Year Rambling

Kigo (season words) generally contain a sense of time passing, and this is particularly so when a change of year is concerned. The season word, kozo-kotoshi 去年今年 (last year/this year), when used in a haiku, will conjure deep emotion for the changing of one year into the next on New Year’s Day. In a single night, yesterday will become part of the old year and today, the new. The New Year (kotoshi, or shin-nen) physically stands on the base of the Old Year (kozo, kyonen, or furutoshi).

The existence of time in this world is said to be the most perplexing enigma for the physicists to theorize over. How is it, for example, that two years can share a time border? And should such a boundary be accurate to the nearest second? Or can it be further refined to the nearest milli-, micro-, nano-, or even pico-second? Perhaps not, … although 1/∞ (infinity) second surely exists!

New Year hike –
my hot lunch at the summit,
cup noodles as usual

Old Year/New Year:
as the bullet train
passes Nagoya

from the Icebox inbox – 38

new shoes
snow squeaks like
last year’s
………… (Iliyana Stoyanova)

Shallow lake stretches
Between the rec ground goalmouths –
Cotton wool clouds pass.
………… (Kamome)

evening hush
beyond city lights
wires hum
………… (Joyce Joslin Lorenson)

the marina
cluttered with yachts
suddenly a clink!
………… (Diarmuid Fitzgerald)

When Tuna Die

Nenten Tsubo’uchi’s haiku group, Sendan, held a Japanese language haibun contest to run parallel with the Genjuan one earlier this year (Judges were NT, SHG, HM and two others). The winning piece, by Haruaki Kato, has now been translated into English by the author himself with help from SHG. We hope you will find reading this recent Japanese haibun both interesting and enjoyable.


…. “People say that tuna have to keep on swimming because they’d die if they stopped. I wonder what exactly happens, though, when a tuna dies of old age?” If my wife had not said this to me one day in a low, tired voice, I suppose I wouldn’t have thought about this issue so seriously.
…. We had just heard the news about the ‘mass death’ of tuna in a gigantic tank, the main feature of a famous aquarium. They were saying that the cause of death was still under investigation, and that a wide variety of hypotheses— including virus, stress, and even radioactivity— were flying about. For me, to be honest, the cause of the death didn’t really matter: I was shocked by the event itself. It was the simple realization that tuna die, just as we do, that had made me upset. I suppose the word ‘tuna’ had always conjured up to me either the image of a great shoal of them swimming freely across the ocean, or the vision of something being taken out of the freezer ready to be served as delicious sashimi. I had really never thought seriously about how fish passed away. And it was not only fish, but with any kind of wild animal, I’d always supposed they must die in a dramatic incident—being preyed on, perhaps, by a ferocious natural enemy or caught by a brave hunter or fisherman—just like I’d seen in art-house films.
…. Yet it is not like that at all. They might actually die, say, of liver disease, or of unfortunate food poisoning, or perhaps by bumping into a rock in an accident. It is simply the ego of humans, who desperately desire a peaceful ending of their own lives, to imagine other animals die in dramatic fashion. And it’s also true that most of us aren’t particularly concerned about the deaths of ordinary, inconspicuous creatures, for whom a dramatic end might seem rather out of place.
…. Death is all around us, and countless are the lives being lost at this very moment. The only way for us to survive in this world is to ignore such deaths, just as we do not consider the air as we breathe it in. Only occasionally might we bring to mind a highly dramatic or a deeply peaceful death and be moved thereby. This is rather like whales, still surfacing for air time and again, although their ancestors chose to give up the land for the ocean long ago. We need to think of death sometimes so as not to drown in life’s breathless waters.
…. Anyway, that is what I thought to myself as I stood there in a supermarket at the corner of the seafood counter, holding packed shelled oysters which were floating inside their sealed bag filled with water. The oysters appeared to me as if they might be enjoying zero gravity while refusing to ‘belong’ to either life or death. They seemed so calm in the airless tension.
…. When I looked up from my reverie, my wife was already in front of the meat counter far ahead. I put the packed spacewalking oysters back onto the counter, and weaved my way over to her through the crowds.

The oysters, too—
their spirits prepared
for whatever may come

from the Icebox inbox – 35

zoo visit…
after the downpour
a rainbow of macaws

……. (Grace Galton)

spring morning
how i fiddle with piano keys
missing her caress

……. (Payal Aggarwal)

indulgent mother
cow licking her calf
till he shines

……. (Joyce Joslin Lorenson)

Waiting for summer
The ice and snow are melted
But tempestuous storms
Wreak havoc
And I pine alone.

……. (Jane Wieman, Madison, Wisconsin)

The Banquet

A small restaurant on Ishigakijima known for its authentic Ryukyu Island cuisine. It’s right beside the sea. We enter.
Just beyond the entrance hall, a plump man sits on the floor plucking a sanshin banjo. He’s ready to play requests: either old or new Okinawan songs. The place serves up raw sashimi, as well as stewed, deep-fried and grilled fish. They also have noodles, tofu and chanpuru (a stir-fried concoction using bitter gourd).
Stewed pork, pig’s trotters, and pig’s ears follow. We are now quite full!
As night wears on and the customers soak up the alcohol, the staff take away all the paper doors dividing one table from another, and we find ourselves face to face with those we’ve never met, all singing along to the songs the sanshin player leads.
“Naki-nasa-iiii, warai-nasa-iiii; kawa wa nagarete…” (Cry, laugh; the river flows on…)
“Za-wawa, za-wawa…” (Sweetcorn leaves a-rustling…)
And there are old island tunes many of us have never learned.
Somewhat inebriated, we settle our account and duck out of the wooden door. Passing through a dusky grove near the house we emerge in the outer garden, where the lapping of the surf along the coral reef can just be heard. The heavens bristle with stars.

……… slow melody
……… of a sanshin banjo –
……… the Milky Way

(from ZIGZAG, Rengashobo-Shinsha Publishing, Tokyo, 2010; trans. into Eng. with help from SHG)

Ginko to the Hidden Christian Villages

. Astonishing! The medieval Christians’ pictures, so bright even today.
……………… (Akito)
Christianity first arrived in Japan in the 16th Century and was accepted warmly, but soon afterwards subsequent shogunates banned the religion, mainly for political reasons. Until 1873 Christians were unsparingly oppressed. Many of the persecuted Christians (“Kirishitan”) in the present Mishima district, which today includes Takatsuki and Ibaraki cities in Osaka prefecture, hid in its northern woodlands to live with their secret faith.


April 14, 2013. On this fine Sunday, ten Hailstones riding in three cars (and one other on a scooter)
set off to explore the heritage of the “hidden Christian villages” of Sendaiji and Shimo-otowa. We started at the Ibaraki Municipal Christian Relics Depository, essentially a small local museum telling the hidden Christians’ story, and gazed at the motorway construction site up against Mt. Cruz.
. The spring wind fills
 The wood behind
. The Christian graveyard –
. A galleon’s* sails.
……………… (Tito)
. under which roof
. was the Madonna scroll* found?
. a bush warbler
. singing through the village
……………… (Keiko)
. roadside hawkbits,*
. what do you know P1190543-
. about the tombstone crosses
. peeking from the soil?
……………… (Akira)
Lunch was taken in the Sports Park restaurant at the foot of Mt. Ryuo:
. Oh why?
. in the middle of April
car wipers raised*
……………… (Kumiko)
As the village houses are scattered here and there, we decided to move on a mile or two … to Kounji Temple and the hamlet around it in Shimo-otowa. Some preferred to go by car; others, to walk the lanes between flowery fields, enjoying views of the surrounding hills.
. By the waiting room
. cabbage goes for fifty yen –
. another empty bus
……………… (Branko)
. of two stone crosses, barely a trace:
. this year too, mountain cherry blossoms*
……………… (Richard)
. talking openly after 400 years
P1190565a- . a man of the hidden hamlet –
. time tells
……………… (Eiko)
. waiting for slow walkers:
. from the village out of sight
. a blown petal
……………… (Hisashi)

In mid-afternoon, we returned to a pleasant room we had rented at the Park. There we shared haiku:
. How appropriate! On tatami floor, a cross made by four tables.
……………… (Branko) PICT0001a-

*galleon: large European square-rigged sailing ship
*Madonna scroll: マリア十五玄義図, an early C17th painting of a Madonna & Child surrounded by 15 miracle scenes

*hawkbits: カンサイタンポポ, delicate, yellow dandelions
*raised: lifted up away from the windscreen
*mountain cherry blossoms: 山桜, wild cherry spp., with white flowers and orangey leaflets

From the Icebox inbox – 27

Sweet smell of summer—
Looking down on bare meadows
the first cut of hay
 . (David Sinex)

autumn winds
nothing bears repeating
but the moon
. (Michael Henry Lee)

maple moon
grandmother’s recipe
settles in the pan
. (Alan Summers)

Cobwebs –
My daily routine is
Lost in entanglement
. (Nancy May)

a diary –
within its ruled lines
anger and tears
. (Elaine Hillson)

wild boars
write in the sand –
october rains
. (Alhama Garcia)

At this stage of life
seasons swirl ever faster—
Years drop like petals
. (David Sinex)

Hailstone Urban Ginko, Kobe

東風の波埠頭の鉄鎖濡れそぼつ (誓子)
March waves
at the pier head
drenching iron chains   (Yamaguchi Seishi)


4th March, 2012. Nine Hailstones gathered one by one in front of Kobe Motomachi Station, where organizer, Akira Kibi greeted us. A raindrop – kigo of spring rain, implying stillness, suggestiveness – then, later on, an insistent pouring onto buds and flowers. With this rain, our ginko stroll took us from the Station, down to the port (Naka Pier), from where we took a cruise around the Harbor (altitude 0 m). On disembarking, we walked back up to Chinatown to have lunch. Afterwards, we wandered through the City heart, nicely recovered from the Quake Disaster of 1995, taking in an old Mosque, and on further uphill to the Kitano district and Ijin-kan Street (altitude 150 m), where Western-style buildings and former residences of early foreign settlers are preserved. We came back downhill later to a café to share our haiku. A few of our poems are below, though no one seems to have written down Emily Campbell’s verse.

Mount Rokko, still
and mist-enveloped:
remembering the Quake   (Lake)

Forlorn lamp posts –
the waves have lapped
a million times about them
since that Day   (Eiko) 

spring tide in the shipyard
soon, a vessel to be born   (Hisashi)

…….. from the harbour
…….. to the top of the hill
…….. walking with bravado –
…….. spring rain   (Mari)

By a red lamp post
Dumpling steam:
Sheltering in doorways   (Tito)

…….. spring rain
…….. wetting the mosque dome –
…….. its entrance, locked   (Akira)

Under spring drizzle …
the old foreigners’ quarter,
our port’s heritage, too   (Akito)

through rainy trees
a foreign house rots –
yet, its garden camellia!  (Shigeko)

From the Icebox inbox – 24

winter moon
pink camellias
till it’s time to go   ………   Michael Henry Lee

frost on the pane.
winter words shaken down
– icy cold breath     ………   Claire Gardien

moonlit shadow
the old dogs lick
each other    ………    P K Padhy

winter work day
filling the wheelbarrow
full of sunshine     ………   Michael Henry Lee

Immortal Love

Under a strong breeze
Kinoshita’s grey ricefield
Turns green and yellow.    ………    kamome