Archive for the Event report Category

Balloon at Cape Irago

Posted in Event report, Summer with tags , , , on August 6, 2017 by Tito

鷹一つ見つけてうれし伊良湖岬 (芭蕉)
To find a hawk
flying at Cape Irago —
my pleasure, deep
……………… (Basho)

On his 1687 Backpack Notes journey, 笈の小文, Basho had composed this haiku for his beloved disciple, Tokoku 杜国 (aka Mangikumaru 万菊丸), who was exiled in Hobi, near the tip of the Atsumi Peninsular (Aichi) for ‘cooking the books’ with his rice-dealing in Nagoya.

July 23: Tito plans to fly his birthday balloon (a personal ritual) from the ferry leaving Cape Irago after a day (with wife, Kazue, and Hailstone friends, David McCullough and Gerald Staggers – aka Duro Jaiye) visiting Tokoku’s grave at Cho’onji Temple (the “tide-listening” temple) in Hobi and then swimming in the Pacific at Koijigahama Beach.

 

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Leave Kyoto/Osaka early for Toba in Mie, from where we sail across the sea to that erstwhile place of exile.

The ferry departs
through a flotilla of jellyfish —
summer clouds
……………… (Tito)

Landing at Cape Irago, walk out to the lighthouse with its views back to the sacred isle of Kamishima.

all along the seafront
stone carved poems
visited by dragonflies
……………… (David)

midday heat …
in their wheelbarrow
the catch of the day
……………… (Duro)

Indulge, as Basho would have done, in huge clams and oysters at Tamagawa’s in Fukue. Then, at the temple itself, we meet the Zen priest, Miyamoto Rikan 利寛, tending his lotuses. Spend a quiet moment at the graveside, remembering how Basho had wept at the House of Fallen Persimmons after dreaming of Tokoku some months after his premature death. Their relationship had been a happy one, with Basho once brushing the ‘shape’ of Tokoku’s snore onto paper… and them having written pledges together on their travel hats on the way to Yoshino. “His good heart reached to the very core of my own. How could I ever forget him?” (from the Saga Nikki)

波音の墓のひそかにも
the sound of the waves
also heard in secret
from his grave
……………… (Santoka, visiting Cho’onji in 1939)

last patch of summer heat —
cat tails flicking
back and forth
……………… (David)

burning heat …
he waters the small plants
in the rock garden
……………… (Duro)

Rikan proves a genial host, showing us a huge rockery he has made himself; also, the “tide-listening” Kannon statue in the pond at the back of the temple; and, finally, driving us back to Koijigahama Beach near the Cape. Body-surfing and beach-combing before boarding the return ferry.

A pink balloon
leaves my hand …
the sun, too, dropping down
into Ise Bay
……………… (Tito)

Spring at the Edge

Posted in Event report, Ginko-no-renga, Reading, Spring with tags on June 4, 2017 by Tito

Hailstone Haiku Circle once did a series of events on the theme ‘Four Corners of Kyoto’. That was in 2004. It just so happens that this spring we have been out on the edge of Kyoto again a couple of times: April 16 in Ohara (NE corner), participating in a poetry-reading party (sharing some of our favourite spring poetry) hosted by David McCullough … and then, on May 20 in Oyamazaki (SW corner), with a ginko-no-renga event hosted by Hisashi Miyazaki and Akito Mori. Both were blessed with wonderful weather. I thought someone should leave a short account here so that absentees can get an idea of what happened. Both were full of creativity and fun.

Ohara – the cherries were still in full bloom along the river flowing past David’s rural home. We ate and drank outside. Notable attendees included John & Peggy McAteer (over in Japan from Oregon) and Yuko Yuasa (for the first time in many years). David kicked off the reading session inside with the opening passage “When that Aprille with his shoures soote…” from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, followed by his two young twins, Kenji and Minori, each reading a classical tanka. Here’s one of them in David’s translation:

面影に花の姿をさき立てて 幾重越え来ぬ峰の白雲(俊成)
Led on and on
by the image of blossoms,
I have crossed peak beyond peak
to find nothing
but white clouds ……………… (Fujiwara no Shunzei)

This was followed by Tito reading some famous cherry-blossom haiku and then, teaming up with Ursula and Tomo, singing the vernal Veris Leta Facies from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Duro Jaiye then read an impressive poem translated from the Korean and John McAteer recited to great effect – yes, you’ve guessed it! – Yeats. And so on, via many other voices, through a myriad shades of spring! At least 14 Hailstones read. We hear that the last guest to leave, well after dark, was Gerald (Duro) in his pink-of-pinks shirt. Many thanks to David and Atsumi for including us in the ranks of other friends and family members. A memorable day.

 

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Oyamazaki – the new green leaves (shinryoku) were almost blinding against the deep blue sky. A ginko (composition stroll) was enjoyed in the morning, followed by the compilation of some of the 3- and 2-line verses we had just written into a renga (linked verse) in a room in the Oyamazaki Furusato Centre in the afternoon. Twelve poets came. Notable attendees included Noriko Kan from Matsuyama, Kayo Fukuda from Gunma and her Scottish friend, Graham, just off the plane! Perhaps in Graham’s honour, we briefly visited the Suntory Whisky Distillery. Also, the beautiful garden of the Asahi Oyamazaki Sansō, written about by Natsume Sōseki and replete with kakitsubata (rabbit-ear) iris flowering beside a stream.

有難き姿拝がまんかきつばた (芭蕉)
To that honourable figure
I shall make a bow –
the purple iris flower ……………… (Bashō)

Bashō was referring to Yamazaki Sōkan, an early haiku poet who lived in Oyamazaki and whose haiku monument we also visited. Along with Moritake, he was one of the two pioneers of the haikai-no-renga tradition, on which haiku itself is founded. Later, we were permitted to step into the earthen-floored entrance hall of Myōki-an, a haunt of another of Basho’s heroes, the tea-master Rikyū, part of which is said to have been constructed on the site of Sōkan’s hut. We had not made a prior reservation and so, instead of entering the tea-house, strolled around the nearby Rikyū Hachiman Shrine.

手をついて歌申しあぐる蛙かな (宗鑑)
Hands flat on the ground in front,
reverentially he recites his poem –
the frog! ……………… (Sōkan)

At Takaradera (also known as Hōshakuji Temple) earlier, some of us had paid our respects to Enma-Daiō (the King of Hell) and his truly intimidating Court, a marvellous set of wooden sculptures sitting in its own ‘courthouse’ high on Mt. Tennō. Far below, we had glimpsed the confluence of the three rivers, Katsura, Uji and Kizu, which flow on as the Yodo, on whose banks Buson was born. Lunch was taken in a Chinese restaurant nearby. Hisashi Miyazaki and Richard Donovan then took on the respective roles of sabaki (chief compiler) and shūhitsu (associate ed./scribe) as we began our creative work at the Furusato Centre. It is hoped to share the resultant renga later. For now, then, here is the hokku/wakiku:

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

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

 

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Haiga Walk & NEW Hibikiai & Senri Times

Posted in Event report, Haiga, News, Walking with tags on April 16, 2017 by Tito

Click on the page link marked ‘Haiga Walk – March 2017‘ at top right to enjoy Gerald’s illustrated report on the wonderful haiku sketching and painting outing to Umenomiya Taisha’s plum garden on March 14th, which he kindly organized.

Please also note the NEW time scheduling of our two English Haiku classes (for the next three months only):
KYOTO Hibikiai Forum 5/11, 6/8 and 7/13 18:30-20:00 (30 mins later than normal)
OSAKA Senri Bunka Centre 4/27, 5/25, 6/22 19:30-21:00 (90 mins later than normal; we will return to 18:00-19:30 from July)

The Snow Quest

Posted in Event report, Walking, Winter with tags on February 19, 2017 by Branko

Bright snowy mountains
came into my eyes –
silent morning
……………………. Mayumi K.

Prior to Sunday February 12th, Kyoto had seen intermittent snow for two days and nights, much of the city having been shrouded in white. A poetic adventure invariably on his mind, it didn’t take long for Tito to come up with an idea for a snow-viewing meet at two famous ponds in Saga. In spite of very short notice, six haiku wanderers showed up on what turned out to be a mostly dry and breezy Sunday. The snowfall, alas, had petered out by the early morning hours. All we were left with was white mountain-tops and an occasional patch of unmelted snow to marvel at along the way.

The shrine grove
still holding snow –
the wicked sun
……………………. Titoosawa-pond-snow

Four of us started our walk at Daikaku-ji in Ukyo ward, where a small shrine dedicated to Sugawara Michizane (Tenjin-san), the Japanese God of Poetry, sits on an island in Osawa Pond.

Praying for snow
before a toneless bell
of Tenjin-san
……………………. Branko

Nearby, a plum orchard, barely in bloom, was a welcome sight.

a day of teasing snow –
the small white buds
on this plum tree
……………………. Duro

b-w-tomiko-mayumi-ume-orchardYears ago, Tito used to live just around the corner from Daikaku-ji and, needless to say, knows the surrounding area like the back of his hand. He was kind enough to provide us with lots of information on local history, both ancient and recent. One such point of interest was a group of burial mounds (‘Kitasaga Shichi Kofun’) dotting the rural landscape of vegetable plots and rice-fields. After clawing our way to the top of one such tumulus, we were astonished to find a great number of badger burrows, some of them freshly dug. From each emanated a strong animal scent, and it was safe to say the nocturnal creatures were better off inside the mound than we were, standing frozen on its windy top.

Below the frost line
the ancient tomb
reclaimed by badgers
……………………. Branko

p_20170212_111844_vhdr_in-the-fields-ab

Without restraint
beating its own drum:
a speedwell
out-of-season
……………………. Tomiko

More plodding through the  fields, soggy with snow-melt, and the four who began at Daikaku-ji eventually reached Hirosawa Pond … for a perfectly timed rendezvous with Hitomi and Duro (Gerald). This pond is emptied every December and was that day still partly water-less, a landscape dotted with wading birds foraging across the shallows and mudflats.

Hirosawa Pond –
left and right
high over fish shadows
an osprey hovering
…………………….. Hitomi

a famous pond
drained for the winter –
such hollow dreams
…………………….. Duro

Our final stop was a rather stylish Japanese restaurant, a 15-minute walk from Hirosawa Pond. Have you ever dined at a place frequented by members of royal families? Well, apparently this was such a place! On the walls, large photos recorded visits from the Cambodian and Burmese Royal Families, those of Mongolian dignitaries, and even one from a Ugandan chieftain.

Looking at
framed pictures of royalty …
my oyster curry arrives
……………………. Tito

After a lengthy meal and a productive and fun haiku sharing, we had a group photo taken in the garden outside. No sooner had we said goodbye, than snow began to fall again!

* click on any photo to see it enlarged *p_20170212_154858_vhdr_the-dirty-half-dozen-abchirosawa-osprey-feb-12-2017b

Kompukuji Ginkō

Posted in Autumn, Event report with tags , on December 17, 2016 by Richard Donovan

Kompukuji (金福寺), near Keizan Ichijōji Station in Higashiyama, Kyoto, was founded in 864, and is the site of the Bashō-an (芭蕉庵), a hut that the poet visited in 1670 and that was afterwards dedicated to him. Yosa Buson (与謝蕪村) and his disciples helped restore the hut in 1760. On Buson’s death in 1783, his disciples erected a tomb on the hill overlooking Bashō-an and its adjacent well. Thus this little-known temple is something of a mecca for poets!

We were fortunate, then, that it was quiet on the Saturday afternoon (3 December) when we 15 Hailstones visited, led by Tito. We were able to take our time, even sitting on the engawa (perching boards) of the hut to compose our responses. The guest of honour was Maeve O’Sullivan of Haiku Ireland.

Thatched with water reeds
topped with maple leaves –
Basho-an, the poet’s hut                       Maeve

Peeling shōji
a corner thumbtack
holds sway                                   Albie

Perhaps it was the fact that the autumnal leaves were a little past their prime that staved off the crowds, but we were still surrounded by rich golden and scarlet hues, the light-blue sky above and the soft greens of the moss at our feet forming a poignant contrast.

Maple leaves
dying beautifully                              Branko

Lantern of Kompukuji’s
soft stillness –
lichen dresses you                             Christine

Footpaths through shadows
leave the bright colors behind –
Buson’s resting place                          Peter

A high wire fence
Through burning maple leaves –
No deer by the gate                            Tito

Framed by the temple gate
Deer and mountain silhouette –
The sinking sun
shika nagara / saneimon ni / iru hi kana
This was Buson’s original, alluded to above in Tito’s haiku.

After our extended visit to the temple, we repaired to Café Anone, near the train station, joined by co-organiser Ursula for coffee and cake and the recital of haiku and haibun.

[Notes: ginkō – composition stroll; shōji – paper window screens]

A Path Through Autumn Hills

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Walking with tags , on November 29, 2016 by Tito

Asuka (or Tōtsu ‘Distant’ Asuka, in Nara prefecture), Japan’s first state capital, is a name to conjure with, though few perhaps will have heard of Chikatsu Asuka (‘Nearby’ Asuka, in Osaka prefecture), through which the Takenouchi Kaidō passes on its way from Naniwa. This was Japan’s first state road, plied by emperors and emissaries as they travelled between Yamato and the kingdoms of Korea and empires of China further to the west. Naniwa (Osaka) was the entry/exit port.

Autumn clouds
sailing in the shape of
an ancient mission boat ……………. Miki

Day 1. November 12th , Bashō’s death anniversary and the first day of this year’s Hailstone Autumn Haike, had us passing through a landscape dominated by huge, moated imperial tumuli and early Buddhist temples that had seen better days. At the first of these, Fujiidera, a prayer for our journey in clouds of incense smoke. At another,

Someone tolling
the Yachūji bell:
by my feet, a few
rustling leaves ……………. Branko

One tumulus we rested beside was Shiratori no Misasagi (the White Bird Tumulus) made in the fifth century for Prince Yamatotakeru, perhaps the greatest of the Yamato heroes, whose exploits are recorded in the Kojiki. When he died, his spirit became a swan, and we were amazed to see some large swan haniwa (terracotta statues) in an archaeological display nearby. We paid our respects to him at nearby Shiratori Shrine.

The Takenouchi Kaidō proved somewhat difficult to follow in places, and we had to use a combination of maps, GPS and talking to the locals to navigate through the surprisingly urban first few hours. Richard’s hard work and a measure of good fortune allowed us to eat our packed lunches in a pleasant autumn-tinted park neatly sandwiched between a sewage works and a rubbish incineration plant!

We had just crossed the Ishikawa River on Garyū Bridge, from where we had spied the twin peaks of Mt. Futagami (Nijō) and a more rural, hilly landscape up ahead. Blessed with an idyllic ‘Indian summer’ day.

In the time it took him
to count the three clouds …
there were only two ……………. Tito

Found the rather creepy Morimoto Jinja, but overlooked, alas, its mysterious rat-headed courtier stone, Hayato-ishi.

Bare lightbulbs hanging
where lanterns used to be —
neglected shrine ……………. Candace

As the afternoon wore on and our feet began to get weary, golden vine leaves appeared beside the road. Although the harvest was already in, we did not need the signboards for ‘Asuka Wine’ to know that we were entering a land of grapes. The vines scrolling around their metal frames reminded some of us of the seventh century budō karakusa patterns on the black bronze Buddha’s pedestal in Nara’s Yakushiji. Around 3, we picked up Kyoko at Kaminotaishi Station.

The man perhaps most responsible for the introduction of Buddhism to Japan was Prince Shōtoku, and it was to his final resting place at Eifukuji Temple that we were now headed – uphill. The spacious temple precincts command a fine view out across the Valley of Kings and its imperial mausolea.

So still at Eifukuji:
only the huge sun sinking
behind the pagoda ……………. Branko

Down some steep steps … and up another flight beyond, brought us to the little nunnery of Saihōin, our last port of call for the day. The bus from the hotel soon came to collect us.

The nuns have left
the gate open wide –
November moon ……………. Tito

Taishi Onsen was where we bedded down for the night, now joined by David, who had walked up  from the railway station through late afternoon fields. The hot-spring waters and the local food and wine set us up for an open-mic haiku sharing.

Reciting the day’s poems
with a karaoke echo:
last of the autumn wine ……………. Richard

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Day 2. The 13th dawned, crisp and clear.

Morning bath
in the open air,
a yellow leaf falling
as I close my eyes ……………. Miki

At Kaminotaishi Station we waited for the arrival of the Osaka train and found Akira and Shigeko almost immediately. Somehow, though, Hisashi slipped through the radar and had a quiet smoke just behind us while others continued to hunt for him! The ten of us proceeded eastwards along the Kaidō, paralleling the glittering Asuka Stream.

Now I am alone
but the snowflies
have found their sunbeam ……………. David

Passing the thatched roof of the Yamamoto House, we climbed a lane to the humble but commendable Historical Museum of the Takenouchi Road. Inside, many were entranced by a holographic presentation of local history, which even introduced Bashō ghosting his way through the area!

In clearing the loose rock
he trips on another –
a path through autumn hills ……………. Tito

Arrival at the busy fishing pond of Dainichi. A short rest, and then a stiff climb over Mt. Futagami, decked in its November best. Lunch was taken on a rocky peak with marvellous views back towards Fujiidera, from where the walk had begun.

Bending in the wind
tall pampas grass:
we vote for a left turn ……………. Branko

Somewhere between the 13-tiered solid stone pagoda of Rokutanji and Iwaya Pass on this, the 13th of the month, u n f o r t u n a t e l y we got lost. To reconnoitre, both Richard and David hared off up different rocky paths. The former came back to tell us that he’d met an old man who had warned him, “You’ll never get through before dark!” We descended the mountain as far as Route 166 and slogged along it to Takenouchi Pass.

Bashō’s checkpoint:
on the Nara side
smoother asphalt ……………. Branko

A pleasant descent past a large pond with a kingfisher … to the outskirts of Takenouchi village. There, we debated the merits of making a detour to take in the Hakuhō period temple of Taimadera, along the so-called “Bashō Path”. David voted with his feet, and we were soon all off behind him!

A farmer’s
long-winded explanation
about the highway shortcut –
Indian summer ……………. Hisashi

At the temple, we prayed before its main image, the huge tapestry-weave Taima Mandala of Amitabha’s Pure Land. Hisashi writes, “The precincts were packed, as that day local agricultural cooperatives were holding an autumn fair. Caught in the crowd, I was attracted by a dry, leafless plant a metre long, carried by a young girl and bearing on its tips fluffy white cotton seeds. I recalled that Taimadera was adjacent to the district of traditional cotton production in Osaka. I imagined the girl would go home with the plant and arrange it carefully in her tatami-mat room.”

Leaves of foreign words
floating away
In the autumn breeze ……………. Miki

We hurried back to Takenouchi and there, altering our pace, began to amble down, backs to the sunset, through the hometown of Bashō’s early travel companion, Naemura Chiri. It seems not to have greatly changed since the visits of the haiku master: an evocative place. In 1684, accompanied by Chiri on his journey of the ‘Weather-exposed Skeleton’, Bashō had stayed at the house of the village headman, Aburaya Ki’emon, and complimented him with the hokku

Watayumi ya / biwa ni nagusamu / take no oku

The cotton-beating bow –
as pleasing as the plucking of a lute
deep in the bamboo

A cotton-growing area indeed.

Hanging above
our full array of grins,
a line of drying onions ……………. Tito

After a group photo (see the slideshow), and a short reading by Stephen of Bashō’s haibun and verse related to the area, we meandered along our final stretch of the Kaidō towards its junction with the Katsuragi Road at Nagao Shrine. Looking back, we could see the range we had come over – Kongo, Katsuragi, Futagami – a rearing mountain wave against the afterglow. Prayers of thanks for safe completion of our journey. From Iwashiro Station, the train-ride home.

Nara Basin –
stubble smoke rising
from the end of
the Silk Road ……………. Akira

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‘Green Leaves and Water’: Ginko-no-Kukai at Mino

Posted in Event report, Summer with tags on June 27, 2016 by kibiakira

We chanced on one sunny morning  in the rainy season for our Ginko (June 11), a haiku stroll in the Mino Valley, N. Osaka. Ten poets turned up at the Station, and in less than five minutes we were in a green forest with fresh leaves and a clean stream. We enjoyed the murmuring water, birdsong, cool air, and tree-filtered sunlight. We glimpsed a wedding ceremony at one of the old Japanese-style inns on the way, and gazed up at the huge rock, Toujin-modori-iwa, which, as the legend goes, because of its formidable aspect made a group of Chinese visitors in the Qing Dynasty give up their attempt to reach 33m-high Mino Falls. Eventually, a silver waterfall came into sight. There, a monkey was hiding in the trees, attracting even more visitors than the cascade itself.  After enjoying the Falls, we walked back to the town of Mino, some of us taking a short dip in a hot-spring foot-bath on the way.

That afternoon, we were to hold a Kukai on the pre-selected theme of ‘Green Leaves and Water’ in the newly-opened Ii-ichi-nichi Café, the owner of which, Mr. Kinoshita, was a friend of one of our members. At lunchtime, poets wrote down some of their haiku from the morning’s Ginko, and the scribe and event organizer (yours truly, Akira) chose a few of them to add to the Kukai sheet (part-prepared from submissions already received, including a couple from a poet currently abroad). This sheet soon had 25 haiku inscribed on it (a maximum of two for each participant) and copies were made in a nearby store. Everyone had to choose their favourite (2 pts.) and three other haiku they liked (1 pt. each). The votes were then tallied by the scribe, and over coffee the session chairman, Branko Manojlovic, then read out the winning haiku and asked those who voted for it to say why they had liked it. Soon, we moved onto the runner-up, and so on down the scale of popularity, managing to cover most of the poems that had attracted at least two votes. Tito presented the author of the winning haiku, Hisashi Miyazaki, with a dyed cloth iwana fish. It seemed an appropriate prize for the clear waters of Mino.

we watch the fall–
it watches us,
a lone monkey ………… (Hisashi Miyazaki, 5 pts.)

the last drop poured,
…….. spreading
……….. scent
. of fresh picked tea ………… (*Mizuho Shibuya, 4 pts.)

The Mino Fall/ behind the maple leaves/ a shy monkey
(Teruko Yamamoto, 3 pts.)

Going deep into the greenland/ at its goal/ waterfall’s white spray   ………… (Eiko Mori, 3)

clear water…/ the fish under the bridge/ cooling in the shade   ………… (*Duro Jaiye, 3)

new leaves above and below:/ a cart of three-year-olds/ crossing the mirror paddy ………… (Richard Donovan, 3)

Strolling the valley…/ a faint light on the stream,/ clear still water ………… (Akito Mori, 3)

* authors with asterisks were not present on the day; click on any photo to enlarge