Archive for the Haibun Category

Persimmons – part 2

Posted in Autumn, Haibun with tags on February 3, 2018 by sosui

. Nowadays I feel persimmons may be losing their popularity among consumers. Shops sell only a few varieties — two kinds of sweet persimmons called Fuyugaki (Prosperity Persimmons) and Jirogaki (Jiro Persimmons), and one kind of dried persimmon called Ichidagaki (Ichida Persimmons). Prosperity Persimmons are produced mainly in Gifu Prefecture, but they were originally developed from the Goshogaki (Imperial Palace Persimmons) very popular in Nara Prefecture. An enterprising Gifu farmer took a seedling back from Nara, planted it in his orchard and made further improvements. Mizuho City in Gifu Prefecture commemorates this with a stone monument, which reads “The birthplace of Prosperity Persimmons”. I am very fond of Prosperity Persimmons, and, whenever I see them in shops, I cannot resist the temptation to buy them. They are especially tasty just before they begin to mature. When they feel slightly soft, they are ready to eat, for it is then that they are at their sweetest and juiciest. Jiro Persimmons were originally developed in Mori Town in Shizuoka Prefecture. A farmer named Matsumoto Jirokichi found a young seedling on the bank of the Ota River and planted it in his back yard. It grew into a tree and bore fruits, but they tasted so awful that no one cared for them. When his neighbour’s house had a fire, the tree was burned down. But fresh buds appeared the following spring, and within a few years the tree began to bear fruit again. When Jirokichi tasted one of them, he was surprised how good it was. Thus a new variety was born, named ‘Jiro Persimmon’ after its owner, but strictly speaking, it was the product of an accident! Now they are widely produced aound Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture. I think Jiro Persimmon is as good as its rival, Prosperity Persimmon, in size, colour and taste.
………………  Prosperity Persimmon —
………………  My mother is peeling it
………………  With her supple hands.
. Ichida Persimmons are produced in the village of Ichida in Nagano Prefecture (now a part of Takamori Town). They are relatively small dried persimmons, but very good in taste and colour. We have another kind of dried persimmon called Anpogaki, which look more like jelly because so much moisture is retained. They were originally made in Date City in Fukushima Prefecture, but now they are produced in other places as well, such as Wakayama and Toyama. What is common to the two types is that they are exposed to sulphur fumes in the manufacturing process. Perhaps because of this, they retain their beautiful orange colour. I live at the foot of Mt. Haruna, an area famous for plums, peaches and pears, but we also produce persimmons as a side line. In late autumn each year I buy big sour persimmons from a local grower and dry them. First I peel them, then hang them on strings to expose them to the sun. In several weeks, they will have a white powder on their surface and will be ready for eating. In sweetness, they are as good as Ichida and Anpo Persimmons, but, alas, they are black in colour and are rather difficult to make. If dried too long, they become hard, and if exposed to rain, they become mouldy. When they are well-made, however, I take special pleasure in eating them.
………………  The sunny orange
………………  Lines of drying persimmons —
………………  How they cheer the eaves!

(to be continued)

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Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2018 – deadline approaches!

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun with tags , on January 21, 2018 by Tito

Ten more days till the deadline for entries into this year’s Genjuan International Haibun Contest. Details here. The office is usually lenient with entries arriving a few days late. The four judges will read your works without knowing authors’ identities. They will be looking for haikai style, best understood by reading examples. Check out our haibun pages through the page links at top right. Click the hailstones ‘Icebox’ header photo to return to this top page anytime. Good luck!

Persimmons – part 1

Posted in Autumn, Haibun with tags on December 16, 2017 by sosui

. I have a persimmon tree in front of my room. This year, it has produced a rich harvest. In fact, like many other fruit trees, it bears a lot of fruit every other year. However, the persimmons this tree produces are very small, less than the size of ping-pong balls. I believe this tree was here long before the garden was made, and that it belongs to the species called Yamagaki (Mountain Persimmon). Its fruits are probably very sour and nobody cares for them, but as autumn deepens, their colour also deepens, till birds come and peck at them. This is the tree’s only use, but when I see it growing in the shadow of a big cherry, doing its best to survive, I cannot help cheering it on.
………………  Time for persimmons
………………  To mature and redden —
………………  The sky is so blue.
. I have been close to persimmons since my childhood. We had a persimmon tree in our garden when I was at primary school. My father fastened sturdy ropes around one of its branches and made a swing for me. I was very proud of it and happily swung back and forth on it, but one day the branch broke off without warning and threw both the swing and me to the ground. Fortunately, I landed on a soft lawn, so I escaped with only scratches to my knees. This experience taught me, though, that persimmon trees were easily broken, and since then I have made it a rule not to climb them.
. During our wartime evacuation, I enjoyed sweet persimmons. The earliest kind we had was called Bongineri (Bon-Festival Sweet Persimmon). Its fruits were small and had lots of stones, but their flesh, strewn with black flecks resembling sesame seeds, was delicious. Later in autumn I would enjoy large persimmons that had been sweetened in rice chests — so big and sweet that I found them satisfying in every sense. Occasionally I enjoyed the special variety called Saijogaki (Saijo Persimmons), which I thought to be a real treasure.
………………  The sweet persimmons
………………  With dots like sesame seeds —
………………  Everyone eats laughing.

………………  Sweetened persimmons
………………  Melt on our tongues, so slow to
………………  Reach our stomachs.

(to be continued)

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2018: submissions and new judge

Posted in Haibun, News, Submissions with tags , on October 1, 2017 by Tito

The Genjuan Contest office is now open to receive your submissions for 2018. Closing deadline will be 31 Jan. (although a day or two beyond is usually OK). Last year, three of four judges were Hailstone poets, with Ellis Avery, at that time living in Melbourne, Australia, giving us her gifted support. Thank you! As Ellis is back in the US now (Boston) studying nursing, she has stepped down and her place as judge will be taken by Angelee Deodhar of Chandigarh, India. Some of you may know her wonderful series of ‘Journeys’ anthologies, each of which gathers more than 100 haibun works. Although she has not so far been associated with Hailstone, we look forward to benefiting from her expertise and to working with her. Nenten Tsubo’uchi’s title has changed to emeritus judge, reflecting the special assistance he gives the final part of the judging process. The rules remain the same as last year. How about entering a piece or two? There are real prizes and certificates and it’s free. Address of our officer, Eiko Mori, and other details are given in the Genjuan 2018 Guidelines (reached via orange page link at top right of the Icebox top page).

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2017 Results

Posted in Haibun, News with tags , , on May 14, 2017 by Tito

Grand Prix:
Season of Snow and Milk – Doris Lynch (USA)

An (Cottage) Prizes:
Trespass – David McCullough (Japan)
Feathers – John Parsons (UK)
Soldier’s Woundwort – Dimitar Anakiev (Slovenia)
What’s in a Name – Jim Norton (Ireland)
 
Honourable Mentions:
Getaways – Dru Philippou (USA)
Fathomless Ocean – Gabriel Rosenstock (Ireland)
M PATHY – Dorothy Mahoney (Canada)
The Baker’s Insomnia – Phillippa Yaa de Villiers (South Africa)
Nesting Bowls – Beth Skala (Canada)

Judges:
Nenten Tsubo’uchi, Stephen Henry Gill (Tito), Hisashi Miyazaki, Ellis Avery

What a wonderful genre is haibun, haiku-style prose! The four judges wish to thank all those who took the trouble to send something in to the Contest Office. We apologize for the slight delay in releasing the results this year and also offer our hearty congratulations to the authors of the above decorated works. This year we had 89 entries from 15 different countries on every imaginable topic! It was quite a difficult task for the judges to bring the field down to a short-list of 15 works. However, this year it proved fairly easy to decide on the prize-winners, in spite of the fact that one judge was not in Japan, but out in Australia! The Hailstone Haiku Circle here in Kansai can feel proud, as at last one of its members has won a prize (although Honourable Mentions had previously been attained) – David McCullough, for his very fine Trespass. The judges chose a work of supreme lightness by Doris Lynch as the Grand Prix winner. Now that we know the names of the writers, we can see that her piece has glided past the challenge from four considerable men! The top five Genjuan works HAVE NOW BEEN POSTED as a special page on the Icebox for all to enjoy. I wonder if you will agree with the judges that they are all excellent works? We are also planning to publish another Genjuan haibun anthology soon.

Guidelines and deadline for the 2018 Genjuan Contest will be posted here in due course.

Plum Blossoms II

Posted in Haibun, Spring with tags , on May 5, 2017 by sosui
This is the second part of a recent haibun by Nobuyuki Yuasa (Sosui).  

.. Plum is sometimes called “the elder brother of blossoms”. My dictionary says this is because plum (ume) blooms earlier than other trees. It may be so, but robai (Japanese allspice) bears its yellow flowers even earlier than does plum. Historically, plum became popular before cherry did. The Man’yoshu, the first anthology of Japanese poetry, dating from the fifth to eighth centuries, has about three times more poems on plum than on cherry. In this sense, we can say that plum is the elder brother of cherry. “The Cherry of the Left” at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto was once “The Plum of the Left”. We can still see this old tradition at the Daikakuji Temple, which was once the residence of Emperor Saga (786~842). The plum here bears pink flowers.
.. Plum was first introduced from China as a medicine called ubai (plums dried and smoked), but soon the custom of “plum viewing” spread among the courtiers. In Volume 5 of the Man’yoshu, we have the following record of “plum viewing” held at the residence of Otomo no Tabito (665~731) in Dazaifu. “It was in February – a fine day with a gentle wind. The plum blossoms were like white face powders in front of a looking glass…..” From this description, written perhaps under the influence of Chinese poetry, we know that they were viewing white plum blossoms. I believe that pink plum was introduced somewhat later, and was rather rare for that reason.
.. There is a shrine in Dazaifu commemorating Sugawara Michizane (845~903). He was a powerful political leader and reformer, but his rivals convinced Emperor Daigo (885~930) to send him to this far-away defence point in Kyushu. This was a great demotion, and before he left his residence in Kyoto he is said to have written a famous “forget-me-not” poem to a plum in his garden. It is believed that this tree flew overnight to Dazaifu, following its master. This is the origin of the Tobi-ume, or “Flying Plum-tree”, whose descendant, to this day, still grows at this shrine.

The ancient nobles
Who loved and prized plum blossoms —
To where have they gone?

Plum Blossoms I

Posted in Haibun, Spring with tags , on March 30, 2017 by Tito
The following is the first part of a recent haibun by Nobuyuki Yuasa (Sosui).  

The fragrance of plums —
Suddenly the sun comes up
On the mountain path.                 Basho

.. Plum blossoms are beautiful, especially in the morning when their colours are highlighted; yet plums appeal not only to the eye but also to the nose. In fact, the scent of their blossoms is their greatest charm. When their aroma is carried on a gentle spring breeze, I am captivated by its nobility and find nothing else capable of rivalling it. In the garden I can see from my windows, white plums are just now coming out — one or two already fully out, but the rest still pinkish-white balls, some swollen and others small. It is plum blossoms at this stage that I love best, for they give us hope and trust in the future. A week from now, they will be in full bloom. Then I can enjoy their fragrance. On warm days, I shall open my windows wide to enjoy it, far superior to any artificial perfume.

I know there are plums
In the recess of darkness —
Deeply scented winds.                  Sosui