Archive for the Ginko-no-renga Category

“Fire & Water” ginko-no-renga

Posted in Ginko-no-renga, Summer with tags , on August 22, 2015 by Tito

dedicated to the memory of Ken Jones (1930 – 2.8.2015)

As its last event of the summer, Hailstone Haiku Circle held a ginko-no-rengakai (‘stroll and scroll event’) at Arashiyama on Daimonji Night, 16.8.15. Sixteen attended. On this, the last day of the O-bon season, multiple bonfires are lit on the hills around Kyoto as a way of seeing off the spirits of the dead who are thought to have been invisible guests in the homes of relatives these past few days. The first fire to be lit, and the largest, is shaped like the Chinese character for ‘big’ and dominates the eastern side of town; the last, overlooking Kyoto’s western side, is shaped like the ‘torii’ or sacred gateway leading to the Fire God’s shrine atop Mt. Atago, which is ‘the mountain’ alluded to in the hokku (first verse) here. The ageku (final verse) thus links back to the hokku. We climbed the steps up to Hōrinji Temple to get a better view of the bonfires. Rain is mentioned once, and once only, as it turned out to be but a heavy shower.

Arashiyama renga Micah 1a

Ken Jones gave a reading to Hailstone 12 years ago in Osaka and news of his passing had just reached us. On the night he was in the sabaki’s mind. This linked verse is what we managed to get down. Each verse has become a picture in a kaleidoscopic narrative poem.


….. Thunderhead looms
….. behind the mountain —
….. the same silhouette

(Tito) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. Over the river, dusk
….. ….. with dragonflies

(Peter) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. Where three rocks jut
….. from the green water
….. no ripples to be seen

(Masako) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. People crowd the bridge
….. ….. egrets cooling down

(Eiko) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. Greater China
….. takes over the street —
….. the flash of credit cards

(Peter) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. Only special guests admitted
….. ….. to the viewing platform

(Tito) ….. ….. ….. …..  


….. Sound of geta
….. on stone steps –
….. yukata beauty

(Tomoko) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. In spite of sweet repellent
….. ….. one mosquito drinks

(Takeshi) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. Cooler air —
….. cicada chorus
….. at summer’s end

(Mika) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. Treading on occasional
….. ….. yellowed cherry leaves

(Tito) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. The rain begins
….. before the lighting of bonfires —
….. etching lines

(Peter/Micah) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. Light captured on the water’s surface
….. ….. tears

(Hideyuki) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

Micah Gampel_8852 c-

….. A misty blaze starts up
….. on the distant hill —
….. Ken, now rest in peace

 (Tito) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. Reflection of lanterns —
….. ….. broken by a passing boat

(Kazue) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. Seeing off the souls
….. a soft wind blows —
….. still alive!

(Hiroko) ….. ….. ….. ….. 


….. ….. Gentle glow of the Torii
….. ….. to dim city lights

(Masako) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

[Participants: Stephen Gill (Tito, sabaki, rt. below), Peter MacIntosh (shuhitsu, lt. below), Masako Fujie, Eiko Mori, Tomoko Uemura, Takeshi Saito, Mika Nakamura, Micah Gampel, Hideyuki Jitsumasa, Kazue Gill, Hiroko Nakakubo, J.P. Thomas (Hakama), Aya Hotta, Vera Ishiyama, Yushi Yanohara, Manoha. Photos: Micah Gampel.]Arashiyama renga Micah 0a


Posted in Ginko-no-renga, Spring with tags , , on March 18, 2011 by Tito

We had a renga meet scheduled for the 12th, and went ahead with it in spite of the calamity that had befallen the country 400 miles to the northeast less than 24 hours before. We walked and wrote of what we saw in Kyoto, but this seemed to merge with what we already carried in our heads of the horror and grief. We had planned to begin the renga with a verse by Buson about the lengthening day and a pheasant fluttering down onto a bridge. In view of the awful situation, the sabaki used another one. Someone has just written – in an email asking after our group (who are all, we think, safe) – that ‘poetry is prayer’. You may remember, in Basho’s ‘Road to the Deep North’, that his companion Sora wrote at Matsushima (on the coast near Sendai) 鶴に身を借れ ‘borrow the wings of a crane!’ If only everyone on that coast could have done so.

Such as it is, then, with some trepidation, we here share the linked-verse we created, hoping that we might have captured in it somewhere a glimmer of beauty or truth.


The day grows longer –
echoes are heard
in a corner of Kyoto….. (Buson)

Between two gardens
abandoned tiles

Calm corridor –
one step, one prayer
white plum blooming beyond

Struck dumb
by the presence of stones

Again and again
from far across the still pond
one black wave

The silent hills look on
bathed in watery sun

An old lady working
in the woodland field
gives a glance to passers-by

Cold front
shivering dog

Which is the house
their friends lived in?
the couple disputes

Swinging from a branch
a bagworm’s cloak of sticks

Water drips
from a bamboo pipe –
an unknown tune

Two days of rain
two days of melancholy

A polished floor
inside the shuttered room
reflecting nothing

Painted on paper doors
cranes still frolic

The reddish haze
of thousands of buds
against the dim sky

Wayside Buddha
bidden farewell

Our little world –
from it, we search for meaning
in the spring stars


sabaki: Tito with Keiko
hosts: Itsuyo/Yoko
renjuin: Michael Lambe, Keiko Yurugi, John Dougill, Tito, Kazue Gill, Masako Fujie, Anne Vadgama, Yae Kitajima, Itsuyo Higashinaka, Mari Kawaguchi, Akito Mori

venue: Iwakura, including Jisso-in Temple, Kyoto, 12.3.11, the day after the Great Tohoku Quake

Ohara Ginko-no-renga

Posted in Event report, Ginko-no-renga, Summer on October 29, 2010 by Gerald

Hailstones and friends met in Ohara, Kyoto on Sunday June 6, 2010 for a ginko (nature walk), which concluded with a renga (linked-verse composition) session. Ohara is a rural town located in the northern part of Kyoto. It is surrounded by forested mountains. Those who participated in this event contributing verses to the renga were John Dougill, Tito, Mayumi Kawaharada, Akira Kibi, Shigeko Kibi, Ursula Maierl, John McAteer, David McCullough, Hisashi Miyazaki, and Gerald Staggers.

The Ginko-no-renga was organized and hosted by David, who guided us part way up and around one of the forested mountains where we passed a number of small rustic shops, as well as Sanzen-in Temple, before heading out into a stretch of ricefields in the valley. After the walk, lunch was provided by David and his family at his home. The renga session, which featured a 3-2-3 sequence, took place in David’s backyard by the river, and was later edited via e-mail.

Ohara Renga

Warm blue sky
the ricefield flooded
& ready for seedlings

Chattering friends pass by
a frog’s eyes hidden in silence

At the end of a street
three figures of Jizo
in this breeze

Shall we allow
the Takano River to talk?

Farmer’s market
a row of knife sharpeners
swish the whetstones

Billows of afternoon smoke…
fresh-grilled sweetfish

Two mandarin ducks
leave for the sky;

A well-tanned old lady
selling ice-cream

After exchanging bows
he slows down his tractor
to pull over

Tall poppy rising
above the hill line

Into green shade
the lingering taste
of sugared citron peels

Reaching past the dry stone wall
ーa striped kite’s feather

Summer moon
a broken scoop net
in the paddy water

sabaki: Gerald with Hisashi

The Ginkgo Tree

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Ginko-no-renga with tags on December 7, 2009 by Tito

Blessed with halcyon autumn weather, eleven of us assembled in Okayama for the weekend of Nov. 7 and 8. Haiku composition (ginko) began in the gardens of Korakuen, continuing  in the older Kibiji district at Kibitsu Jinja, a short train ride and a walk away.

The renga was edited by Nobuyuki and Sean, and just the opening sequence is given below. In all, there are 18 stanzas. Publication is currently being sought in a British journal.

Three of us were invited by our hosts, Sean and Junko, to stay overnight in the village of Yuzuri. The renga compilation continued there (as well as later in an email exchange between the two editors). Our thanks to them both for their efforts, and to Junko, too, for convivial hospitality.

The ginkgo tree

At the end of the long corridor –

Its golden leaves

….. Sosui

Into the oracle chapel

A beam of autumn sun

….. Tito

On rock mountain

Spirit of Kibi kings –

Bulbul shrieking

….. John

Suddenly a broom sends forth

A bouncing pebble

….. Sean

The water-mill

Wheeling golden drips

Again and again

….. Akira

A stray cat stalks

This forgotten railroad

….. Miki