Archive for the Japanese Classic Category

Turning up the heat

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Classic, Summer with tags , on August 8, 2014 by Tito

The youngest man to have become a disciple of Bashō was surely Izumiya no Kumenosuke. At the age of 14, Bashō conferred upon him the haiku name, Tōyō. The poet had been soothing his aches and pains at the Izumiya Inn in the little hot-spring town of Yamanaka towards the end of his Narrow Road journey of 1689 and had found young Kumenosuke to be the new keeper. Kumenosuke had convened a haikai session there in Bashō’s honour.

Although we are currently in the heat of August, and the last thing I would think of is a hot spring, my wife happened to book us in to stay in Yamanaka last Sunday night. The following morning, at the Bashō no Yakata (Bashō Mansion, which stands by the site of the Inn), its windows open wide  …

The transpicuous house–
a squally wind ruffling
…… a summer garden

……………. (Tito)

… for the grand sum of ¥350, I bought a very slender volume, entitled 山中蕉門:桃妖俳句集 (Haiku by the Yamanaka Bashō-school Poet,  Tōyō).

Every night since then, back in stifling Kyoto, before turning my head against the pillow and closing my eyes, I have enjoyed reading a few haiku by this most poetical of inn-keepers, around whom a lively haiku circle had grown in the mid Edo period.  I doff my hat to whomever it was that researched and made this tiny white booklet of lightness and air. No one at all is credited.

鼻からたばこ吹きけり雲の峰 (桃妖)
Exhaling tobacco smoke
through his nose–
…… cumulonimbus

……………. (Tōyō)

 

sekirei & hamanasu

Posted in Haiku, Japanese Classic, Summer with tags on July 24, 2014 by Tito

Buson had once written sekirei no/ o ya Hashidate wo/ ato nimotsu 

Tail of a wagtail—
Left behind in Hashidate
My luggage
…………. (trans. Makoto Ueda)

Today, I walked the same strand as he had done one quarter of a millennium before and found myself humming

Before a sea of Prussian blue
Hips of the wild rose …

…………. (Amanohashidate, 23.7.14)

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Lake Yogo haiku

Posted in Haiku, Japanese Classic with tags , on October 21, 2013 by Tito

I had brought a haiku by the mendicant poet, Rotsū (1651-1739), on the autumn haike (see posting below) to share at Lake Yogo, but forgot to do so.

.. 鳥どもも寝入っているか余呉の湖
toridomo mo neitteiru ka Yogo no umi

 In its stillness
…… even the waterfowl
……… seem to be sound asleep —
………… the Lake of Yogo

How little has changed! Many of the wild ducks were indeed asleep as we walked by.
Rotsū accompanied Basho on the final leg of his Oku no Hosomichi journey using the Hokkokudo Road 北国道 between Tsuruga and Ogaki, passing Lake Yogo on the way. From the peak of Shizugatake we caught sight of that mountain road running along the neighbouring valley to the northeast. The last stretch of Basho’s ‘Narrow Road’ had been framed, briefly, beneath a rainbow!

Wakanoura Ginkō 和歌浦吟行 & Annular Eclipse 金環日食観察

Posted in Event report, Haiku, Haiqua, Japanese Classic, Spring on May 29, 2012 by Richard Donovan

20th May 2012. A bus from JR Wakayama Station takes 12 Hailstone poets to 不老橋 Furō Bridge opposite 塩竈神社 Shiogama Shrine, whose ancient sanctum is carved out of the striated cliffs and topped with a gnarled pine tree that seems an extension of the rock itself. 

Low spring tide
at Shiogama Shrine –
still the schist flows
…………………..Kittredge Stephenson

There, we watch the priest bless first an infant; then, a dog.

In a cave decorated by past waves,
all wish happiness for the newborn.
………………………………………Hiroko Okamoto 

We visit 玉津島神社 Tamatsushima Shrine, one of the three patron shrines of 和歌 waka and repository of a designated natural monument – an ancient tree (another pine?) writhing in fantastic tortured shapes. Here, we observe a wedding; the bride in traditional white bonnet, white gown.  One hundred steps above the shrine, the view from 奠供山 Mt. Tengu, which Emperor Shōmu climbed with the poet, 山辺赤人 Yamabe no Akahito, early in the eighth century, unscrolls Wakanoura Bay before us.

若の浦に潮満ち来れば潟(かた)を無(な)み 葦辺(あしべ)をさして鶴(たづ)鳴き渡る (山辺赤人 CE. 724)
As the tide flows in / To Wakanoura Bay, / Sandbars are lost beneath the waves … / Cranes fly crying / Towards the reedy shore. (trans. SG)

We then cross 三断橋 Sandankyō Bridge to the tiered pagoda 海禅院 Kaizen’in on 妹背山 Imoseyama islet … 

…. the mudflat
…. all to herself –
…. clamdigger
……………………. – Gerald 

A convivial lunch is washed down with drinks of fresh ginger; and we are soon walking again, along あしべ通り Ashibe St. beside a tidal canal (punctuated by derelict wooden fishing boats) towards Wakanoura port, where we turn off through 御手洗池公園 Mitarai-ike Park. Beyond are the steep, nobly weathered green stone steps leading up to 和歌浦天満宮 Wakaura-Tenmangū, one of the nation’s three chief Tenmangū shrines, each dedicated to 菅原道真 Sugawara no Michizane, a Heian scholar and diplomat later deified as 天神 Tenjin, God of Learning. Wakanoura is the port from where he left on exile.
老(ろう)を積む身は浮き船に誘(さそ)はれて 遠ざかり行く和歌の浦波 (菅原道真 CE. 901)
My weary old body has been bidden / To depart aboard this bobbing ship: / I can now but watch the waves / Beating against the Waka’ura shore / As it recedes into the distance. (trans. SG) 

………………..  plum blossoms long gone,
………………..  but two black butterflies
………………… vie above Tenmangū –
………………… Michizane’s spirit soaring?
…………………………………………..Richard Donovan 

We head west, following the coastline,  past near-deserted docks, around a pristine cove of clear water, through a booming tunnel, past a beach crowded with locals enjoying their Sunday barbecues … all the time, haunted by the district’s strange green stone.

toward the sand bar
kissing rocks form an arch –
Wakanoura
…………………………..Akira Kibi

…………………………………. Deserted hotels
…………………………………. In green vines –
…………………………………. The sound of waves
……………………………………………………Mayumi Kawaharada

All too soon it is time for the daytrippers amongst us to catch their return bus. Those who remain press on for 番所庭園 Bandoko Gardens, a ‘nose’ (番所の鼻) of lush green sticking out into the Pacific Ocean. 

………………………………………………….. Finding the open quiet
………………………………………………….. At the end of today’s trail –
………………………………………………….. My friend’s deep sigh.
…………………………………………………………………………………….Tito 

Flanked by four islets, the tiny peninsula is an oasis of calm, a world apart from the busy industrial portland coming into view away to the north.

…. Across the Bay of Saika
…. candy-striped towers
…. belching smoggy floss
…………………….Michael Lambe

………………………………………………….. fishing-boat rumble fades …
………………………………………………….. again, the softly breaking waves
………………………………………………….. at Bandoko Cliffs
…………………………………………………………………………………Richard Donovan

Checking in at Manpa Hotel, the first rain begins to fall. What weather will the day of the eclipse bring us, we wonder. Haiku written during the day are later shared, grinned and beared.

The 21st dawns fine, with but a few small veils of light cloud, soon melting off. We move to our various stations, sun-viewing sheets in hand. Two of the remaining party climb a nearby hill;  others mount a giant rock at the seashore.

By 7:30 am, the moon is upon us, the light on the sea now an amber early evening cast. 

………………………………………………….. Eclipse
………………………………………………….. Through new cherry leaves …
………………………………………………….. My scimitared shirt.
…………………………………………………………………………..Tito

a golden carp leaps out
just to see it …
eclipse of the sun
……………………Jiko

The Spirituality of Haiku

Posted in Event report, Haiku, Japanese Classic with tags on October 31, 2011 by John Dougill

I wonder if I could draw members’ attention to a piece on my blog… It includes a short account of the classical-style renku session at
Kitano Tenmangu last Saturday, put on as part of Kyoto City’s Bunka-sai, followed by a quotation about the spiritual nature of haiku which I think practitioners might find inspirational.
Please see here. Thank you, JD.

Kikakuza Haibun Contest ’09-11 anthology available

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Classic, News with tags , , on September 28, 2011 by Tito

 An anthology of decorated haibun from the three years that the Kikakuza International Haibun Contest has been held is now available to anyone attending Hailstone events and seminars this autumn. Price ¥1,000. If you live abroad and would like one sent, kindly make contact via the comments button below or on the Publications page at this site (via link at top right). Or you may contact either of the compilers direct. There may be a small postage charge added. All contestants have already been sent their own copy of the book. It contains 33 contemporary haibun (from 11 countries) + 4 classical haibun translations, judges’ comments, and a Tohoku Earthquake solo shisan renku by Sosui.

 The Contest is to continue this autumn and winter under the new name of the Genjuan International Haibun Contest with rules and deadline unchanged. Full details are given on the page entitled ‘Genjuan Haibun Contest Guidelines’ (see link at top right). The famous haibun Basho wrote while residing at the Genju Cottage in Shiga (幻住庵記) in 1690 is translated into English in this publication.

The Sound of Water (I): Springs and Fountains

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Classic, Tanka with tags , on September 18, 2011 by sosui

Let me begin with the famous poem, traditionally ascribed to Saigyo, in which the poet describes the sound of a spring.

Ceaselessly swelling
Out of a crack in the rocks
A spring trickles down,
Whose water is more ample
Than I can use in my hut.

In the original poem, the poet uses the onomatopoeic expression, ‘toku toku’, which I translated as ‘ceaselessly’ above. Admittedly, this is a very feeble translation. The closest to this expression in English would be ‘drip drip’, but ‘toku toku’ has more force. It conveys the power of nature behind the birth of a spring.

I have seen many different types of springs in the mountains. Some of them just drip down from wet moss and grass. They make a subtle music like the strings of a harp touched lightly. Others swell out of the earth with a heavy sound like the throbbing of a heart. In a way, it is an awe-inspiring sound, for we feel that some mysterious being is pushing up the water. It announces the birth of a river.

A Chinese hermit
Washed his ears in cold water
To forget the world.

Let me vitalize
My whole being with a sip
From this icy spring.

Fountains in Italian cities are completely different. Water gushes from the mouth of animals or some mysterious beings. For example, the Fontana di Trevi has Neptune at its center under a triumphant arch, led by Pegasus and two Tritons, and water spouts out of the animals that follow him. I have also seen a fountain where an ugly human face is pouring out water from a pipe in its mouth. Perhaps, the most extreme case is the Pissing Cupid. No one, I think, wants to drink from him. I suppose his role is purely ornamental. What does all this mean? In my view, it means that fountains in Italy are used as a symbol of civilization. Italian fountains are not at the beginning, but at the end of a long duct which stretches many miles through mountains and valleys. Their position signifies they have been installed for the service of man.

Fontana di Trevi,
Fully dressed women come and go
Chatting and laughing.

In a hot piazza,
The splashing water comes down
With a pleasant noise