Uji ‘I Wish’ Kukai – Hanami – Ginko

At last, after coronavirus cancellations and a rain postponement the previous week, a real opportunity to celebrate our new book! 3 April 2021 – Hailstone held a hanami kukai (haiku evaluation meet) in Uji, on a large groundsheet on Nakanoshima Island under some of its still-blossoming cherry trees. Participants read aloud and commented on their favourite 3 haiku from the ‘I Wish‘ anthology (published last December). Afterwards, a ginko (composition stroll) was held on the north bank of the river, visiting Uji Shrine, the Heian Period Ujikami Shrine, and the rocky approach to Koshoji Temple.

Kukai Winning Haiku (3 votes):

…… Like a Kabuki actor
…… an old persimmon tree
…… posing alone
……………. Hitomi Suzuki

Runner-up (2 votes):

…… This colour
…… squeezed from sky and earth,
…… a tinted leaf falls
……………. Miki Kotera

Congratulations to both poets. Your haiku were selected as favourites from a field of 218 in the book!

That very week, Masahiro Nakagawa had sent in this haiku:

…… ‘I Wish’ —
…… I finish reading it
…… as cherry petals fall

The cover of the book, by Richard Steiner, also portrays streaming cherry petals. Now, here we were celebrating its publication and enjoyment on the last possible day for a hanami this year.

…… Lips get eloquent
…… at the outdoor haiku gathering …
…… wandering cherry petals
……………. Akihiko Hayashi

………………………….. Mistletoe
………………………….. on a blooming cherry —
………………………….. a wish to be transformed?
………………………………………… Kyoko Norma Nozaki

…… Through cherry blossoms
…… blushes of sunlight visit
…… our picnic lunch
……………. Akira Kibi

………………………….. “One more night”
………………………….. whispered to the station cherry –-
………………………….. rainclouds in the west
………………………………………… Tito

20th Anniversary Haiku Collection – I Wish

Hailstone Haiku Circle was founded on 11.11.2000 at a meet in Shiga prefecture. That day, we visited Ukimido 浮御堂 and noticed a rainbow over the northern part of Lake Biwa. It had seemed to stay with us, there to the right of  Mt. Hira, all afternoon long! 20 years on, I feel that rainbow is still with us now, shining on miraculously in the sun and rain.

So, we are 20 years old, and may be feeling in need of an anniversary collection? Well, it has just come out! I’ve called the book ‘I Wish’ … for reasons only hinted at in the foreword and in the ‘wish’ haiku that crop up here and there within the book. The cover was painted by Richard Steiner (Tosai). There is an afterword by Gerald (Duro Jaiye). Besides the individual author pages, the book also contains rensaku (haiku sequences) on earthquake, flood, heatwave, typhoon, wildfire, and, of course, on pandemic, too. There is also a short In Memoriam section, a Glossary and an Events List at the end. No haibun, though, as Hailstone will be issuing an anthology of Genjuan Awarded Pieces (2018-20) in a few more months – and that will be “haibun max”! Watch this space.

‘I Wish’ is A6 (pocket-size), 104pp, costs ¥1,200 for single copies, and contains 218 haiku by about 60 poets, both Japanese and foreigners, mainly living in Kansai, West Japan. It will be available at most Hailstone events from Dec. 24 onwards … till at least mid-spring next year and can be ordered through the avenues described at the bottom of our Publications page. The publications officer will then send you details of payment options, depending on where you are, as well as of postage and packing costs.

I hope you will enjoy our new book. Long live that Hailstone rainbow !

Considering Sōseki’s「京に着ける夕」”Kyō ni tsukeru yūbe” as a haibun

In the first part of Natsume Sōseki’s account of a visit to Kyoto in the spring of 1907, the author and his hosts run their rickshaws ever further north. At the same time, Sōseki and his thoughts rush onwards across the psychological terrain of memory and conjecture, a palimpsest of his summer visit many years before with his poet friend and mentor Masaoka Shiki, of his current early-spring visit without him, and of the cultural and literary associations of Kyoto he has accrued over a lifetime. Even when he is at last in bed at his host’s residence in the woods of Tadasu no Mori, near Shimogamo Shrine, his mind is still in motion:

In the middle of the night, the eighteenth-century clock on one of the staggered shelves in the alcove above my pillow chimes in its square rosewood case, resonating like ivory chopsticks striking a silver bowl. The sound penetrates my dreams, waking me with a start; the clock’s chime has ended, but in my head it rings on. And then this ringing gradually thins out, grows more distant, more refined, passing from my ear to my inner ear, and from there into my brain, and on into my heart, then from the depths of my heart into some further realm connected with it—until at last it seems to reach some distant land beyond the limits of my own heart. This chilly bell-ring perfuses my whole body; and the ringing having laid bare my heart and passed into a realm of boundless seclusion, it is inevitable that body and soul become as pure as an ice floe, as cold as a snowdrift. Even with the silk futons around me, in the end I am cold.

A crow cawing atop a tall zelkova tree at daybreak shatters my dreams for the second time. But this is no ordinary crow. It doesn’t caw in the usual mundane way—its call is twisted into a grotesque cackle. Twisted too its beak, into a downward grimace, and its body hunched over. Myōjin, the resident deity of Kamo, may well have imposed his divine will to have it caw like that, so as to make me all the colder.

Shedding the futons, shivering still, I open the window. A nebulous drizzle thickly shrouds Tadasu no Mori; Tadasu no Mori envelops the house; I am sealed in the lonely twelve-mat room within it, absorbed within these many layers of cold.

Spring cold—

Before the shrine,

The crane from my dreams

[Original haiku: 春寒(はるさむ)の社頭に鶴を夢みけり]

The fact that this piece consists of prose narrative concluding with a single haiku, and hence is technically a haibun, means we can see it as a tribute to Sōseki’s haiku mentor, who had died four years before. One of the work’s strongest themes, loneliness, is perhaps counterbalanced by a note of optimism in the 季語 kigo of the concluding haiku, the crane, which is associated with winter. The crane is a migratory bird that comes south to Japan to overwinter but then heads north again in spring. Sōseki’s Kyoto remains inescapably cold during his visit, but it is the cold of early spring. Here, at the end, the crane has roused itself, as if from the author’s dream, and stands before the shrine ready to be on its way. Winter is coming to an end, and taking its place is the promise of regeneration. Even as he complains bitterly of the cold, and of the parallel loss of his warm friendship with Shiki, Sōseki is perhaps also acknowledging the healing power of time. If the crane represents Shiki’s spirit, Sōseki is acknowledging that it once spent time with him as the corporeal Shiki, but will now move on, as too must Sōseki.

(The above commentary and translation are adapted from my book Translating Modern Japanese Literature, which was published in 2019 and is available from the publisher, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, or on sites such as Amazon. If you are interested in obtaining a copy at a discount, please contact me directly at donovanrichardn [at] hotmail.com.)

a bird… a bird haiku – to raise funds for Indian labourers made redundant by Covid-19

.. Long an admirer of his unassuming, timeless haiku, many of which I had read in Presence magazine, I had sought out K. Ramesh at the Krishnamurti Vasanta Vihar in Chennai in Dec. 2014 on a visit with my wife to Tamil Nadu. We had walked together through the wooded grounds talking of haiku. Sentinel of / a soft forest shower — / mongoose on the wall. This was the verse I had sent him from our memorable stroll.

.. He had later (2019) written to me that he was to visit Kyoto, and we had planned to go together to Rakushisha. Circumstances changed, however, and he had had to cancel his trip, assuring me that he would come to Japan at a future time.

.. Most recently, in an email, he told me of his concern for the many labourers made redundant in TN by the Covid-19 epidemic and of how he and his daughter, Anita, had just made a book of haiku and photos of birds (all by Ramesh) and had just launched it on Amazon: here. It is only available in Kindle digital form and costs $3.49. Profits will be used to support local labourers with no income.

I downloaded my copy just now! The book is beautiful. Here are a couple of Ramesh’s bird haiku from within it:

Vedic chants… / a heron glides to a rock / in the misty lake

daybreak…. / a farmer taps the goose’s head / on the way to the barn

Please support this worthy project.

Bilingual Complex – a new book

Hailstone Haiku Circle member, Kyoko Norma Nozaki, has recently published a book, Bilingual Complex – Essays & Notes featuring English Haiku, ISBN 9784779514296, pub. Nakanishiya Press, Kyoto, 90pp, B6 size, ¥2,000. In it, she writes of her grandparents (Japanese immigrants in Hawaii), parents (father, a Nisei American; mother, a Japanese who emigrated to marry him); herself (born and educated in California, later a Prof. Emer. at Kyoto Sangyo Univ. specializing in Nikkei studies) and her family today. The book is sprinkled with haiku from S.E. Asia, Japan, America, Germany and elsewhere.

Acorns scattered / All over the herb garden– / Immune from the nuclear plant?

January 3rd– / Promising prosperity, / A flurry of snow

Lettuce fields gone– / The Silicon Valley / Covered with California smog

今日からは日本の雁よ 楽に寝よ(一茶)From today / You are a Japanese goose, / So relax and sleep in comfort (Issa, quoted in the author’s research note, ‘On Immigration’)

“The process of writing this book”, Kyoko divulges in her Afterword, “has made me aware once again that I am a product of two cultures …. and my thoughts naturally shift between the two very different languages: the ambiguity of Japanese and the preciseness of English.”

For further details or purchase go here: http://www.nakanishiya.co.jp/book/b492956.html


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!

New Genjuan anthology, “From the Cottage of Visions” is out!

.. From the Cottage of Visions, a compilation of the awarded works from the Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015-17, was published at the end of May. 112pp, A5 size, 37 haibun from around the world, some written by Japanese, judges’ comments, a potted history of Japanese haibun, 4 illus. by Buson & Taiga, ¥1,300 (U.S.$13 incl. p&p).
.. This week, we will honour our commitment to all entrants of the Contest during those three years and airmail more than 100 free copies worldwide (photo shows Officer, Eiko Mori, and assistant, Teruko Yamamoto, doing the addressing!). Entry to our Contest remains free, but we have no wealthy sponsors. So, how have we managed to do this charitable act for all these years? The answer is threefold: some judges have made occasional donations, all labour is done in a spirit of volunteerism, and we have diverted some of the profits made through sales of other Hailstone publications (including Meltdown, Persimmon and our previous Genjuan anthology 2012-14) into covering some of our printing costs. We would certainly like you to buy a copy if you can! The book can be ordered through the channels outlined near the bottom of our Publications page. 

Persimmon – Hailstone’s new collection is launched

click on any photo to enlarge

Bringing to mind
both classical
and modern tales—
two persimmons ……………………. Mizuho Shibuya

29 Oct. 2017 – in the grip of yet another typhoon, 27 poets gathered at Rakushisha in Western Kyoto to celebrate the launch of our latest anthology, ‘Persimmon’, a collection of haiku by 60 poets, a haibun by Sosui and two rensaku featuring stanzas by multiple authors … and more besides. Rakushisha is known in English as ‘the House of Fallen Persimmons’, and its former owner, Basho’s disciple Mukai Kyorai, once ironically referred to himself as a kakinushi, a ‘Master of Persimmons’.

Having stacked our umbrellas and shed our waterproofs and soggy shoes, Richard Donovan welcomed us and proposed the kampai toast. Stephen Gill then explained how the book came about and thanked those who had assisted him with its production and with the happy launch itself. The persimmon is both homely and transporting (柿は心を和むと同時に別世界に連れて行ってくれる), he pointed out.

Later, we conducted a short kukai using a section of the book, entitled ‘Calendar Says’. It was won in absentia by Nobuyuki Yuasa for the following haiku:
…. Petals are all gone …
…. time for me now to enjoy
…. blossoms in my heart  …………………… Sosui

Runner-up was Branko Manojlovic with:
………………………………….. Hideyoshi’s tomb–
………………………………….. nobody sweeps here
.. but the April wind

The rain and the wind kindly abated to allow us a much drier journey home, albeit through puddles and under low, black, scudding, twilight clouds.

The book has 152 pages and costs ¥1,300 ($12). Details of how to order have been posted on our Publications page.

Journeys 2015

We seldom advertise others’ books on this site, but, given that two Hailstones (NY and SHG) and one recent visitor and Genjuan Haibun Grand Prix-winner (MC) are featured, we thought we would make an exception for ‘Journeys 2015’, which contains no less than 145 haibun, some published for the first time. Journeys 2015If we look down the list of contributors’ names, we must conclude that this is sure to be an excellent collection of contemporary world haibun and fortifies the mission to make haibun a genre of world literature, one of the twin objectives of the Genjuan Haibun Contest (the other being to re-introduce the genre to its mother nation, Japan).

Tirelessly edited by Angelee Deodhar in Chandigarh, India. Hopefully, the collection will gain a large Indian readership, not to mention many others around the world. For a list of contributors please go here: http://contemporaryhaibunonline.com/pages113/A_News_Journeys2015.html and for ordering details, here: http://www.amazon.com/Journeys-2015-Anthology-International-Haibun/dp/1515359875

212 new Buson haiku discovered!


Tenri Library (near Nara) announced on 14 Oct. that they had discovered two new books of original haiku by Yosa Buson: one volume of Spring & Summer poems, the other of Autumn & Winter ones. Altogether, they contain just over 1,900 haiku, of which 212 are previously unknown! The name of the missing collection is Yahantei Buson Kushu. ‘Yahantei’ (Midnight Teahouse) was an alias inherited from his teacher, Hajin, which, later in his life, he used alongside his better-known one of ‘Buson’ (Turnip Village). Above is the first page of the Spring volume, bearing critical marks said to have been made by the poet himself. The book was once owned by his Kyoto disciple, Hyakuchi. They will go on show at the Library, along with many other Buson-related works, until Nov. 8. Hailstone is planning a trip there on Oct. 25 (Sun.). Free entry. Contact SHG (Tito) for details, or leave a message in the reply/comments box below.

To put the find into some sort of context, Stephen was interviewed over the phone by BBC Radio 4 on 16th and you can hear the resultant 3-4 min. passage in the arts programme, ‘Front Line’, (available on the i-player: wait until it has loaded, then fast forward to 17:48′) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06gxysv.

One of the new haiku is:

karakasa mo bakete me no aru tsukiyo kana

The torn paper umbrella
has just become a ghoul …
with moonlit eyes!

(trans. SHG)

Thames Way : Ulster Way (brown to blue)

Former Kyoto-based Hailstone, Diarmuid Fitzgerald, launches his first haiku and tanka collection the Irish Writers’ Centre, Parnell Square in Dublin from 7pm on 22 Oct. Anyone in the area is welcome to attend, but should contact Diarmuid first. The collection is based on a long-distance walk he made along the Thames Way in Southern England. Published by Alba (Kim Richardson).
…………………………. fields of barley
…………………………. shift of hue
…………………………. from yellow
…………………………. to brown
…………………………. clouds pass
………………………………… DF, on the …
Thames Way
Icebox contributor, David McCullough, who has just begun a year’s sabbatical in his native Belfast, guided Tito recently along a stretch of the Ulster Way long-distance footpath in Antrim.
brown eyes of heifers
gazing at the ocean –
two jet trails
…….. DMcC, on the Ulster WayKC4F0045
……….. On an offshore islet
……….. a man reclining
……….. in a brown coat –
……….. the seal!
………………. Tito, ditto

Genjuan Decorated Works 2012-14: Apology and Praise

The Office of the Genjuan Haibun Contest hopes that by now all those who took part in the Genjuan Haibun Contest in any or all of the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 will have received their free copy of the recently published compilation of decorated pieces (see March 30 posting below for description and a photo of the cover). We trust you will enjoy reading it. If you still haven’t received it by the end of May, please contact our officer, Eiko Mori (her details are given on the Genjuan Guidelines page – click link at top right). If you notice any errors of transcription, please notify us.

One, for which we sincerely apologize, has recently been discovered on page 76 in John Kinory’s piece, Prime Meridian. Near the end, “He smile” should be “Her smile” and, in the same sentence, “had brought me” should have been “had bought me”.

Fortunately, we have already received some very encouraging feedback from prominent haibun writers:

“With its 120 pages, judges’ comments and ‘classical Japanese haibun’ this is a considerable work, and a significant contribution to contemporary haibun literature, meriting congratulations to all involved. Incidentally, it’s also a crisp and attractive book production.” (Ken Jones)

“Congratulations on another successful haibun contest. it has been instrumental in keeping haibun an active and vibrant genre. thanks for the good work.” (Jim Kacian)

“… a masterpiece of inspiration and production, not to overlook generosity and ‘haiku spirit’. I was completely taken by surprise and totally overwhelmed to receive it. Thank you so much.” (David Cobb)

Should you wish to order your own copy, details are given on our Publications page (click link at top right).

The four prize-winning pieces in the 2015 Contest are now up on our Genjuan ’15 Winning Haibun page (link at top right).

The Guidelines for the 2016 Contest are now up on our Genjuan Guidelines page (via another link at top right).