Archive for the Spring Category

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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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

from the Icebox inbox – 39

Posted in Spring, Submissions, Winter with tags on February 6, 2017 by Tito

cold morning moon
streaks of cloud discreetly veil
an absent face

K.B. Nelson

bare branches –
I carry the bin across light
scattered on gravel

Diarmuid Fitzgerald

a kestrel stoops –
the cutting edge
of a shakuhachi

Theresa Cancro

mounted on a rusted pole a rain-beat flag

Payal Aggarwal

First day of spring —
a stray monkey swaying
on the top of a pine

Yoshiharu Kondo

* Everyone is welcome to submit a haiku to the Icebox whenever they wish by leaving them as a comment (via reply box) either under this post or on the new Submissions 5 page (see link at top right of our top page, reached by clicking anywhere on the top I C E B O X photo). Please feel free to comment below on this selection. Some of the haiku are very open to interpretation!

Pink Showers

Posted in Event report, Spring with tags on May 7, 2016 by Branko

It seems this year’s cherry blossoms had held on a little longer than usual. Perhaps they did so for the benefit of the ten Hailstone poets who attended the flower ginko event at Kyoto Botanical Gardens and Kamo River on April 10th. Anyway, we’d like to think so.

Loosely organized by Ursula and Branko, the late morning and early afternoon were spent at Kyoto Shokubutsuen, the oldest and the most comprehensive public botanical gardens in Japan. A bit surprising then that most poets in our group had never visited it! Since B. is the proud owner of an annual pass to the Gardens, he was a logical choice to guide the poets around, suggesting routes and beauty spots.

KC4F0042We started off at the Tulip Garden near the North Gate. There, we encountered a newly-wed couple, their every step followed by a hired photographer. This sight is not uncommon at the Gardens. What was unusual, though, was that they were evidently not Japanese (probably Korean or Chinese), for their super-relaxed behaviour went hand-in-hand with non-conventional, brown attire!

…….. A fungus wedding dress:
…….. falling sakura
…….. confetti
…………………… Branko

We strolled on, occasionally pausing by this or that plant or tree for a haiku-inspiring moment. The highlights included:
a suikinkutsu (literally ‘water zither cave’), a place where one can listen through a bamboo stalk to water trickling inside a jug buried underground;KC4F0043
the Cherry Garden where, besides cherry blossoms, a Chinese redbud (Cercis chinensis) caught our attention;

…….. brimstone butterfly
…….. zigzags among
…….. weeping cherry blossoms
…………………… Eiko

…………………………………… Right through
…………………………………… The magenta redbud shrub …
…………………………………… Cherry petals streaming
…………………………………………………. Tito

the Lotus Pond, with its withered seed pods;

…….. brown and broken
…….. lotus stems –
…….. the muddy pond
…………………… UrsulaKC4F0031

a waterwheel that somehow rotated too fast for one propelled only by a tenuous stream of water from above;

…….. a maple seedling –
…….. how it trembles
…….. perched just above
…….. the waterwheel!
……………………. Hitomi 

and the Perennial Garden, where we all gathered by a lilac daphne (Daphne genkwa). Each of us took a sniff at its strikingly purple flowers, whose scent, Tito proposed, was that of an iced-sugar lump.

…………………………………… Daphnes bloom –
…………………………………… a yellow butterfly flits around
…………………………………… the spring garden
…………………………………………………. Akito

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter leaving the Shokubutsuen, we dropped into a nearby supermarket and, armed with bento-boxes,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA headed toward the Kamo River. There, we found a cosy spot on its east bank, where we ate, drank and discussed our haiku drafts. We were joined there by Richard D.

As we were preparing to leave, a sudden gust of wind brought about a hanafubuki, a pale-pink cherry blizzard.

…………………. Cherry petals
…………………. gently raining
…………………. on a poet’s palm
…………………………………… Branko

* Click on any photo to enlarge *

Hiroshima-Matsuyama Tour

Posted in Spring, Travel with tags , , on April 24, 2016 by Nori

Five Hailstone poets (UM, BM, SMc, AS and T) received an invitation from Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture to take a pilot tour (with Japan Tourist Bureau) to Hiroshima and Matsuyama on 19-21 March, escorted by another Hailstone (NK), who is its coordinator and a resident of the latter city. One of the fixers (KT), also added a haiku. The following report was compiled by T with a little help from me.
Flower-inducing rain 催花雨 saika-u, was letting up as we arrived at our first destination, Miyajima. The great red sacred gate was backed by hills of swirling mist. Composition began in earnest, but …
…………… The Miyajima deer—
…………… it ate my haiku!
…………… …………… (Ursula)
After ourselves swallowing a few grilled oysters, a launch took us back across the Inland Sea and up a river in Hiroshima to a pier near our hotel.
…………… …………… A-bomb dome
…………… …………… Bending iron rod
…………… …………… Bending spring willow
…………… ………………………… (Nori)
Hiroshima is situated on a river delta and is famous for its Peace Museum and its lemons. The next day, after eating lemon-flavoured French toast with our morning coffee, once again we headed off to the Inland Sea, this time under a clear blue sky.
…………… Early spring morning—
…………… Hiroshima’s broad fan
…………… Chills the bay
…………… …………… (Albie)
…………… …………… …………… From the Lemon Coast
…………… …………… …………… To the Orange Shore—
…………… …………… …………… A launch’s wake
…………… …………… …………… …………… (Tito)
Matsuyama is famous for its mikan oranges, for its castle and its contribution to the evolution of haiku poetry. It was the birthplace of Shiki Masaoka, and the pilot tour is designed to bring foreigners with an interest in literature to visit the distant town. On disembarking, we made our way up to the donjon through cherry buds beginning to burst.
…………… …………… Feet dangling
…………… …………… on a chair lift: small boy
…………… …………… once again
…………… …………… …………… (Branko)

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That afternoon, for one blissful hour, most poets soaked in a bath at nearby Dogo Hot-spring, a real treat. In the evening, we were joined by some local haiku poets in a specially created ‘haiku bar’. We had a merry time of airing verse already composed and receiving high-spirited feedback!
…………… …………… …………… Dogo Hot-spring –
……………. …………… ………….. from the taiko* rhythm
…………… …………… …………… vivid colors spark
…………… …………… …………… …………… (Kiki)
On our third and final day, we were greeted by another blue sky. Our first engagement, a tea ceremony introduction, was followed by a visit to The Shiki Museum. Shiki was seen to be a poetic prodigy, whose life ended far too early.
We were then asked to attend a meeting with officials from the city tourist board and the national tourist agency and give them detailed feedback on our experience up to that point. This was accomplished in a constructive but not uncritical way, which we all hope might help improve the envisaged product for JTB.
Finally, we attended the prize-giving of the Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Contest in the hall at The Shiki Museum. Copious inquetes were dutifully filled in, but some of us still managed to enjoy the judge’s comments made by Itsuki Natsui.
…………… …………… Low energy, late afternoon
…………… …………… Shiki’s sad life—
…………… …………… A waft of jinchoge**
…………… …………… …………… (Sally)
* large Japanese drum
** daphne

from the Icebox inbox – 35

Posted in Haiku, Spring, Submissions, Tanka on May 30, 2015 by Hisashi Miyazaki

zoo visit…
after the downpour
a rainbow of macaws

……. (Grace Galton)

spring morning
how i fiddle with piano keys
missing her caress

……. (Payal Aggarwal)

indulgent mother
cow licking her calf
till he shines

……. (Joyce Joslin Lorenson)

Waiting for summer
The ice and snow are melted
But tempestuous storms
Wreak havoc
And I pine alone.

……. (Jane Wieman, Madison, Wisconsin)