Archive for the Tribute Category

Icebox 10th Anniversary & Tohta’s Passing

Posted in Japanese Modern, News, Tribute with tags , on February 23, 2018 by Tito

Last night, Hailstone Haiku Circle held a Committee Meet in Osaka to talk about such things as sales of our latest book Persimmon, future publications, the Genjuan Haibun Contest (a record 133 entries), and a venue for one of our seminars. It was also pointed out that our Icebox site was launched on 23 February 2008, exactly ten years ago! The recent death of the much-respected poet, Tohta Kaneko on 20 Feb., aged 98, was also mentioned and some appreciative comments passed. So, both a happy and a sad time last night.

Icebox – looking back this February along the path we’ve trodden, I wonder if you’d agree that our main achievement these past ten years might have been to provide a glimpse of what it means to be a haiku poet in today’s Japan, whether you are Japanese or a resident foreigner – and not only ‘at the desk’. It has to be respectful, genuinely creative and fun. Japan is, of course, an ace place to grow rich in haiku and its spirit. ‘Risk’ and ‘wonder’ are also perhaps two keywords, describing both our haiku and our activities as a whole. We have also hopefully given you a taste of Japan’s deep seasons. I see from my WordPress dashboard that we’ve so far had 468 posts from our contributors, almost 3,000 comments (anyone can leave these), created 32 special pages (see top right, on subjects such as haiku, haibun, renga, haiga), added 50 links to other recommendable haiku or related sites (see blogroll), a search facility, archives, a publications page (where you can find out how to order one of our books – including the Kikakuza and Genjuan Haibun anthologies), a poll on what you think are the 3 most important characteristics of English haiku (click on ‘results’ to see how it is going!), an events page (for those of you who can speak at least a little English and are in W.  Japan), and a submissions facility (via the reply box/comments on the Submissions – NEW! page). Yes, you can submit to be included in the regular ‘from the Icebox inbox’ postings! There are also experimental spaces where attendees at our two main seminar groups (in Kyoto and Osaka) can get comments on work-in-progress. After ten years at this game, perhaps you’ll allow the Icebox team a quick “Banzai!” Let me also express gratitude to my fellow editors, Gerald Staggers (aka Duro Jaiye) and Hisashi Miyazaki; to David McCullough for helping to start the site;  and also, to our contributors (notably Nobuyuki Yuasa, or ‘Sosui’) who try to keep this weblog up there with the best haiku sites there are. A timely bow.

With snow all around
The crimson berets of cranes
Stand out in the sun ……………………………….. (Sosui)

Tohta – as many of you will know, he was one of Japan’s  greatest modern haiku poets, a leader of the Gendai Haiku Association, an opponent of war and political revisionism, a charming and humorous man, who had several foreign followers who for long studied under him. I never had that opportunity, alas, as not in Tokyo, but I do have two treasured memories of him, in both of which I can still clearly see the twinkle in his eye and his real passion for the art of haiku. The first was after a paper I’d delivered to an international conference in 1997 attended by most of the prominent poets from the haiku organizations in Japan and America. I was the British interloper who spoke about ‘Haiku as Poetry and Sound’. When I’d finished, from his seat in the front row, he raced up to the lectern and said in a loud, jovial way, “Gambare!” (‘At a boy! Keep it up!) and proceeded to explain that ongakusei (cadence or musicality) was to him one of the three most important aspects of haiku. One of the others, by the way, was fiction, which not many foreign haiku poets believe in – certainly not for haiku! The second vivid memory of Tohta was when I went to interview him for a BBC Radio programme I was making on the recent history of haiku (both in Japan and abroad), Close to Silence Very soon after we got started, he got out a haiku he’d just composed that day and asked me, somewhat feverishly, what I thought about it, as if it was much more important than the interview itself – he, a venerable and well-respected leader of haiku in the Land of Haiku; I, an ex-Events Officer for the British Haiku Society! He was all ears, though.

サングラスのパブロピカソに蜜蜂
sangurasu no Paburo Pikaso ni mitsubachi
……… Wearing sunglasses
……… Pablo Picasso, confronted by
……… A honey bee! …………………………………………….. (Tohta)

In my imagination, Picasso must be wearing one of his trademark hooped T-shirts to somehow match the bee! I laughed loudly that day and I still laugh at this now. We will miss him greatly.

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Yoshihiko Suzuki

Posted in News, Tribute with tags , on October 8, 2016 by Tito

Today, I heard the sad news that one of Hailstone’s founding members, Yoshihiko Suzuki, had passed away of cancer last month in Nishinomiya, aged 90. He graduated in 1951 from Tokyo Univ. as a mechanical engineer, later working for Sakae Kogyo KK. Because of his excellent English, he was often posted abroad. The trilingual haiku here is reproduced from his book, Signpost (pub. 1999). In it, we find Yoshihiko out in Thailand, from where he sent us many wonderful poems. The haiga of a Thai elephant is by his daughter, Ritsuko, whom, together with his wife Michiko, he leaves behind. There are grandsons, too (viz. another fine haiku, for which there is an extant kuhi (poem stone) in Hikami-cho in eastern Hyogo (btm. lt.). Our thoughts are with them all. [Click on any pic to see more detail.]Why? Why not? / Little grandson asking endlessly – / Spring evening

Summer shower – / Encountering a beauty, / Saying, “After you!”

Waiting in a long line / To cradle for a minute / The tiny koala …………. (Sydney, pub. The Meridian, 1998)

Floodwaters besieging / An old temple – / It grows dark …………. (Thailand, pub. Enhaiklopedia, 2005)

RIP

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2016

Posted in Haiga, Tribute with tags on January 19, 2016 by Gerald

mountaintop speech haiga

Click on the image to see it better!

Toshi’s Commemoration

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Tribute with tags on December 8, 2015 by Ursula Maierl

………….. The autumn air resounds
………….. With girls’ cheerful voices –
………….. An old professor joins in                              Toshi

Commemorating our much-loved haijin, Toshi Ida, on November 22, 2015, a quartet of poets accepted a gracious invitation by Toshi’s life-partner, Michiko-san, to visit her home at Chitose-cho, Kameoka.  We shared an autumnal afternoon tea, with November-only ‘inoshishi mochi’ and home-grown persimmons. Michiko made Toshi’s ‘Hibikiai Forum English Haiku Poems’ class archives available to explore.  Yoshiharu presented a gift of a hand-made book featuring his calligraphy of many of Toshi’s haiku, while Keiko offered a hand-made wall hanging, in which to display individual card pages from the book. A white-and-purple bouquet was also presented on behalf of the Hailstone Circle.

In the early evening, rounding off our visit, we visited the local Daiizumo Jingu shrine, which was holding a festival under the rising moon.  The leaves were flaunting themselves, the weather was perfect: Toshi’s commemoration proved to be a delight.

 

A copse of maple trees –
the first anniversary
of Toshi’s passing ……………………………….. Yoshiharu

………….. carefully opening
………….. his cupped hands –
………….. a snow-midge
………….. floats aloft                               Ursula

shrine festival –
the man who got lost in the village
now tasting wine                                   Keiko

…………………………. The dozy red
…………………………. Of distant lit-up maples –
…………………………. Drums pound to the moon.                    Tito

For John

Posted in Renga, Tribute with tags on October 6, 2015 by Tito

British renku master, John Carley, who died on 31 December 2013, is commemorated in a new page here on the Icebox: “Memorial kasen for John Carley”. Please click this https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/memorial-kasen-for-john-carley/ to read the linked verse composed by 10 international poets led by Eiko Yachimoto using a haiku of John’s as its lead verse. If you have any comments, you can either leave them beneath this announcement or at the foot of the kasen page itself. Enjoy it, please!

Thanks, Mari! Goodbye YBC

Posted in News, Tribute with tags on March 22, 2015 by Tito

Tito, Mari, Reiko Hayahara, Mizuho

A sad day on Thur. 19 March, when we held the last ever Yomiuri Culture Center Eigo de Haiku class (#295) in Senri-Chuo, Osaka and when Mari Kawaguchi stepped down as Treasurer of the Hailstone Haiku Circle after almost 15 years. Fortunately, next month the English Haiku class will reopen at the nearby Senri Culture Centre. The Hailstone Bank account began by being a brown envelope in a closet at Mari’s house, but moved on to being a real account with a regular Japanese high street bank. Due to ill health, Mari has stepped down and Mizuho Shibuya has graciously offered to take over the role. At the last YBC class Mari was presented with a grey arare (hailstone) iron tea pot (for green tea) by Tito and a bouquet from the Circle itself. Like most haiku groups, Hailstone is essentially a non-profit organization with any gains made on sales of its books being ploughed back into the next event or publication project. The next major expense? Airmailing 100 free copies of the forthcoming Genjuan Haibun Contest 2012-14 book around the world. Thank you so much, dear Mari, for your joyful, selfless service on behalf of so many poets in Kansai and beyond. We wish you good health.

photo lt. to rt. - Tito, Mari, Reiko Hayahara, Mizuho

The First Hailstone, Michio Sano, 1927-2014

Posted in Haiku, Tribute with tags , on December 17, 2014 by Tito

Early this year, Michio Sano of Yao, Osaka passed away and he is already greatly missed. He was one of my first haiku students (from 1996) and one of the strongest supporters at the inception of the Hailstone Haiku Circle in 2000. He co-edited the YBC haiku anthology, To Gigeiten. His grave is at Saishoji Temple in Ono, Fukui.

Firstly, then, let me share a few comments by his friends and admirers.

“I mourn for Sano-san. I was impressed with his tender-heartedness and his knowledge of ancient Japanese history.” (Keiko Yurugi)  “I imagine the excitement he must have felt composing haiku with and for an international group, not to mention giving his sensei from abroad insights that at those moments only he could do.” (John McAteer)  “宇宙をつかむかのような世界を表現するすてきなhaikuが多い … in many of his wonderful haiku he expressed a world in which it seems he has managed somehow to grasp space itself.” (Yoshiharu Kondo)  “Michio Sano’s news was very sad for me, too. I haven’t seen him for many years, but I still remember that he, Midori Inoue, Kei Goto and I sometimes used to go to a coffee shop after Gill-sensei’s lesson (at YBC in Namba). Michio 1It was great to make friends with a much older person.” (Mayumi Shigeta)  “He was a fine gentleman with wide knowledge. I pray for the peaceful repose of his soul.” (Hisashi Miyazaki)

And now, let us enjoy some of his English language haiku, the characteristics of which include humour, taking compositional risks, and an ability to juxtapose beautifully the present moment with a sense of history. Michio’s joy at working along the so-called ‘vertical axis’ is evident throughout.

Michio, for all you have taught me and given other poets along the way we walked together, thank you!

by a window ………………………….. Emperor Nintoku –
putting pampas grass ……………. at Mozuno, hunting pheasant
into a flask – …………………………. for his amusement
the agricultural lab

the great bare tree – ……………… the short night –
as if a net had been cast ……….. on and on and on I read
onto air …………………………………. ‘The Life of Kukai’

willow fluff snowing ……………….. long, long ago
to the beat of hooves …………….. an equestrian corps
……………………………………………….. had crossed these plains –
hailstorm … ……………………………. starlit night
to mountain village
decorated with frescoes …………  wind-pollinated
……………………………………………….. rice flowers –
gazing at the mountain …………. since Yayoi times
with its hidden story –
dusk cherry blossoms …………….. loquats ripening
………………………………………………… suggestively –
moonlit Lake Biwa ………………….. the statue of Artemis
has entered the rule …
of the White Emperor …………….. escaping
……………………………………………….. while describing a sine curve –
Xavier’s coffin …………………………. the earthworm
at rest on the hill:
Malacca Strait ………………………… wishing to add
in the haze …………………………….. to this painting by Munch
……………………………………………….. a red spider-lily