April Fools’ Day Tea Party

Proclaiming the dawn
of April Fools’ Day
a bluebird* on the roof! ……………….. Tito

Lured by a spring breeze and white cotton clouds in the blue sky above, we gathered at Oyamazaki Station and set off on a composition stroll.

The old brown teahouse wall—
blossom in the wet stone basin ……………….. Richard

We started by visiting Myōki-an, a Zen temple said to have been built on the site of the hermitage of Yamazaki Sōkan, a great haiku poet of the Muromachi Period, and one of the founders of haikai-no-renga. Kneeling in the tatami-mat room, the priest welcomed us and briefed us about the temple itself and the tea room named ‘Taian’, designed by the fountainhead of the Japanese tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyū. Bashō admired both Sōkan and Rikyū. Oyamazaki is also well-known as the site of a famous battle between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Akechi Mitsuhide. The victor, Hideyoshi, who soon had himself installed as a virtual King of Japan, had been invited more than once to Taian, where Rikyū himself had served tea for him and his subordinate samurais. There, he must have looked upon its slanting ceilings, walls hiding pillars, shitaji-mado (skeleton window), and eaves without gutters allowing rain to fall from the roof as a curtain: tea master Rikyū’s small universe. Each time the master invited guests, it was meant to be for all a fresh, once-in-a-lifetime encounter (ichigo-ichie), never to be staged again. This, we understood, was the essence of Rikyu’s chakai (tea meet).

Spring shade:
a two-tatami tea-room became
a work by Mondrian ……………….. Tomiko

We had lunch in a cozy local restaurant, “Tabitabi,” enjoying the reunion of haiku friends and their families, which included Lawrence (Jiko) and Isabel’s 6-month-old son, Taiyo.

The Easter hare …
see how she leaps
over cherry clouds ……………….. Jiko

Rubbing cheeks,
her grandson looking up …
a cherry-petal blizzard! ……………….. Shigeko

Afterwards, we strolled up the early spring lane to the Asahi Oyamazaki Sansō, where we enjoyed composing haiku in its cherry-blossom water garden and in the mock Tudor main house museum with its exhibition of ceramics by Shōji Hamada.

“Good morrow!”
the greeting came from the ground—
sun-lit periwinkle ……………….. Akira

Red passion
tulip growing—
a mother’s love ……………….. Isabel

Floating petals—
the carp, too
are cherry blossom viewing ……………….. Jiko

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The museum has a third floor terrace with panoramic view northeastwards toward Kyoto. In the middle distance, we perceived a veil of cherry blossoms extending along the river, “Sewari-no-sakura,” which some of us subsequently visited for an evening stroll.

From Sewari’s cherry-trees
petals fall as a blizzard—
our April Fools’ Day stroll  ……………….. Kyoko

Petal waves
blowing down
from mountain to river—
a transient delight  ……………….. Mayumi

There, on the terrace, over cups of English tea and cakes, occasionally visited by a spring zephyr, the fourteen of us shared and discussed the haikus we had made. One of these (given below) was subsequently broadcast (April 18) on B.B.C. Radio Four’s arts magazine show, Front Row. Listen here:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09z1d9t (below the photo, click “Chapter: Japanese Cherry Blossom” to go straight to the haiku section)

Wishing the cherry petals
to fall to rest …
on the baby’s eyes ……………….. Tito

The Narrow Road to the Disaster Zone


SUNDAY, MARCH 11, 16:30 (G.M.T.), repeated SATURDAY, MARCH 17, 23:30 (G.M.T.),





In Japan, this becomes March 12 (Mon.), 01:30 and March 18 (Sun.), 08:30. このたび、BBC英国放送のラジオ4局で、Stephen GillとJulian Mayが作ったラジオ番組が、日本時間の 3月12日の 朝01:30 と 3月18日の 朝08:30に放送されます! ライブで聞くならばここ Listen live here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/bbc_radio_fourfm or listen during the week at your own convenience on the i-player here: 12日から一週間くらいの間は、 http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio . Go to the A-Z strip and see if the programme is there under N for ‘Narrow’ (or type ‘Narrow Road’ in the search box at top right). Nで始まる番組、もしくは ‘Narrow’とか‘Narrow Road’ を右上のsearch box に入れて検索して結構です。 The 28-minute feature should be available on that site for listening for at least one week; maybe more.

番組内容:私の最近の震災地への旅です。The programme is about a recent visit to Tochigi, Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures in the north of Japan, tracing part of haiku poet Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi 奥の細道 route as much as possible, but presenting a contemporary, hopefully somewhat poetic, account of the present situation there. Fingers crossed that it works and that the wonderful people we met up there shine, even via their voice-overs! The BBC describe the programme thus… BBC のこの番組についての英語説明…  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01d26qk .

I hope you can find the time to listen and that you might enjoy it. ラジオ番組を楽しんでいただければ幸いです。どうぞよろしくお願いします。

震災地で募金を大事に賢く使ってサポート活動をしているボランティア・グループへ募金をなさりたい場合:It’s Not Just Mud http://itsnotjustmud.com/cant-volunteer-donate/ をお勧めします。少しの間だけでしたが、私もINJMのボランティアに参加しました。