Archive for 俳文

The Last of My Wandering Journeys Part III – Shimizu Tunnel

Posted in Autumn, Haibun, Travel with tags , on June 21, 2019 by sosui

.. When I got back to the station, I found my train already standing at the platform with some people on board. So I touched my Suica card against the checking machine and got on the train myself. The departure time came and went, but the train did not budge. Ten minutes later, a female conductor announced that the route had been under inspection and that they were now awaiting a green light from the central office. Five more minutes, and the train started to move, but soon the conductor announced that there might be more delays along the way. Fortunately, though, the train soon reached the southern end of the Shimizu Tunnel.
.. Actually, there are two tunnels. The first one was completed in 1931 after ten years of hard work. It is equipped with a loop bridge. The second one was completed in 1967 after four years of construction. This tunnel has some stations in it, and is now used exclusively by down trains, while the first tunnel is used only by up trains. I was on a down train, so we went through the second tunnel. Although the train was moving rapidly, it seemed to take a very long time before the darkness lifted.
.. What surprised me most, though, was that it was raining on the other side of the tunnel! Kawabata Yasunari writes, in a famous novel, “Once out of the long tunnel, I found myself in a snow country.” What lay before me, though, were misty mountains standing in the rain. For a while I doubted my eyes, but then remembered the difference in weather between the Pacific and the Japan Sea coasts. I should have realized this when I saw a cap of clouds over Mt. Tanigawa.
………. An old woman comes
………. Into the train, her bent waist
………. And wet umbrella!
.. The train soon stopped at Yuzawa Station, where a group of primary schoolchildren boarded. The atmosphere of the train was transformed. Two girls now sat in front of me. I was struck by the difference in their characters. One appeared sanguine; the other rather nervous. One was laughing all the time, but the other looked into my face as if she were worried about me. They left the train at Muikamachi Station, but when we said goodbye, they told me to put out my hands and they hit them with their hands exactly as baseball players do.
………. Noise and laughter sent
………. Autumn gloominess away,
………. Schoolchildren boarding.
.. When the train stopped at Ishiuchi Station, I was reminded of the bronze statue of Okamura Mitsugi that I had seen before standing near the station. He was a political leader and had spent all his money trying to build a tunnel at the place where the present Shimizu Tunnel stands. He died brokenhearted, but is still respected as a great man by the people of Niigata Prefecture. Tanaka Kakuei, the former prime minister from Niigata, once vowed that he would dynamite the mountains blocking the free passage between the coasts, thereby reducing the economic disparity of the two sides. Tanaka also died brokenhearted, yet he too is held in great esteem in Niigata.
………. Those two men live on,
………. Kakuei and Mitsugi,
………. Warm in local hearts.

To be continued …

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「イヌピアット語のレッスン」

Posted in Book, Haibun, News with tags , , on June 11, 2019 by Hisashi Miyazaki

It is unusual to use Japanese language for the title of a posting, but this is a Japanese language book! For those of you who cannot read Japanese, the title says “Inupiat Lessons”, taken, with permission, from Doris Lynch’s Genjuan Haibun Contest 2015 Cottage Prize-winning haibun reproduced in Jap. trans. on page 22 of the book. It is about her experiences while living in Kivalina, in northwest Alaska. The original English haibun was reproduced on p.10 of the recent Genjuan anthology, “From the Cottage of Visions“. The new 176-page book is basically a Japanese translation of the earlier English language book, pub. by Hailstone. It has been translated and edited by Hisashi Miyazaki with assistance from Stephen Henry Gill and Nenten Tsubo’uchi. It includes new greetings/foreword by the Contest’s two founders, Nobuyuki Yuasa & SHG (Tito), a new afterword by NT, and an augmented overview of haibun history can be found within HM’s new appended Commentary. This is an attempt to awaken the interest of Japanese readers in haibun, which, as a literary form, although of Japanese origin, has in recent decades mainly been developed overseas. It is fascinating to see what foreigners have made of a Japanese genre. The obi (yellow paper band wrapped around the book) says enticingly, “Haibun? What is that?” (NT).

The book was published in April 2019 by Zonomori Press 像の森書房 in Osaka. It is available from Amazon Japan here or from Hailstone here . It costs ¥1,500 if you buy it at a Hailstone seminar or event or in a bookshop in Kansai. It might be of interest to some Japanese readers to compare the original English found in “From the Cottage of Visions” with the Japanese text in “Inupiat Lessons”. Please support this project, financed largely by donation, including one from Hailstone. Get your copy while they last!

from the Icebox inbox – 43

Posted in Autumn, Haibun, Poem, Submissions with tags , on December 9, 2018 by Tito

Haibun: Offerings

Nicole Hague-Andrews

.. The trolls at Fowlmere live under the bridges, and sometimes under the boardwalks that meander through the marshy reed beds. They live in the damp, shady places, loathing the sunlight and will eat you if you don’t answer their questions correctly or give them the gifts that they ask for. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to appease them in order to cross their bridges to safety. They ask us what our favourite colours are (which we have rehearsed well beforehand); sometimes they ask for leaves or berries, sticks, songs, poems or numbers. They are as fickle as the wind and the rain.

dragonflies
circling the gunnera*
two feet wide

.. At the old watercress beds, the pump galoops water… and our dresses are wet to the knees. The trolls won’t eat the spicy, bitter watercress, but we like it with our apples and crackers. The chalk-bed stream water is so clear that Ophelia floats by on luminous weeds, as we throw blackberries on her and the silky, seed-expanded heads of reeds.

dried-up reed beds:
from the hide
Florence blows shut
the windows

.. We are becoming familiar with the different families of trolls: some are nicer than others, can even be experienced as kind. We try to understand their natures. Still, we are left alone to climb trees and make dens.

from the bridge
half a yellow leaf
… floats by

* gunnera – giant rhubarb

Poem: Voici

Serge Saunière

Voici ces quelques photos des deux jours passés prés de vous.
Ciel bleu et soleil pour nous accompagner.
Souvenirs escarpés et quelques pierres de plus sur mes étagères.
Un bonsaî genévrier qui respire à nouveau.
Basho au cours de l’eau.
Le désir de vous revoir.

Here are some pictures of the two days spent with you.
Blue sky and sun to accompany us.
Steep memories and some more stones now on my shelves.
A juniper bonsai that breathes once more.
Basho over the water.
The desire to see you again.

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2019: submissions, new judge, new book

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun, Submissions with tags , on October 12, 2018 by Tito

The Genjuan Contest office is now open to receive your submissions for 2019. Closing deadline will be 31 Jan. (although a day or two beyond is usually OK).

Last year, three of four judges were based in Japan, with Angelee Deodhar, giving us her gifted support from India. With Angelee’s sudden passing and the retirement of emeritus judge, Nenten Tsubo’uchi, we decided to ask Toru Kiuchi to join us as judge this year. We were delighted when he accepted the appointment. He is a former Professor of English at Nihon University, Vice Director of the International Division at the Museum of Haiku Literature, Tokyo, as well as author of the recently published book, American Haiku: New Readings (Lexington Books).  We welcome him to the role and give a deep bow to Nenten for all he has contributed to the Contest.

The rules remain the same as last year. How about entering a piece or two? There are real prizes, certificates and judges’ comments for the winners, and it’s free! Address of our officer, Eiko Mori, and other details are given in the Genjuan 2019 Guidelines .

Finally, it is worth mentioning again that the Genjuan Contest Decorated Works 2015-17 anthology, complete with judges’ comments and examples of contemporary Japanese haibun, was published by us earlier this year. The pale green book with a painting by Buson on its cover is entitled, From the Cottage of Visions. Details of how to order are give on our Publications page, too.

Persimmons – part 7

Posted in Haibun, No/All season with tags , on September 20, 2018 by sosui

. I should like to end my haibun with a paragraph or two on kakishibu (persimmon varnish). I do not know exactly how it is made, but suppose it must be by condensing and fermenting persimmon juice. It is used mainly as a coating for traditional Japanese paper, thereby not only strengthening it but also making it waterproof. Thus a raincoat called kamiko came to be made, first for the priests of the Risshu sect to wear, but later for warriors and travellers as well. It was both light and warm. It was one of these raincoats that Basho took on his journey to the North. Persimmon varnish is also used to coat paper umbrellas. Seeing pictures of them on the Internet recently, I was surprised by the variety of designs. The traditional colour was brown, but now they seem to come in bright colours like red and green and make good decorations for restaurants and hotels.

. I have fond memories of persimmon-varnished fans. They were always sturdy ones and kept me very cool. I always used to pick out a fan of this type from the bamboo case in which we kept our fans at home. Nowadays, the Internet shows fans of this kind in many different colours, but mine was dark brown. I prefer this traditional colour. When summer comes again, I will probably buy a new one.

Let me take a nap,
Using a fan coated with
Persimmon varnish.

this instalment concludes Nobuyuki Yuasa’s haibun 

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2018 Results

Posted in Haibun, News with tags , , on April 16, 2018 by Tito

グランプリ作品 Grand Prix 
The Forbidden Pet   (Branko Manojlovic, Japan)

庵賞作品 An (Cottage) Prizes
Way of Lilies   (Marietta McGregor, Australia)
Let there be Lightning   (Ignatius Fay, Canada)
Waiting for Christmas in Ohio   (Chris Bays, U.S.A.)

入選作品 Honourable Mentions
Lost   (Sean O’Connor, Ireland)
Brazilian Night   (Marina Bellini, Italy)
Red, Blue, White   (Dru Philippou, U.S.A.)
Coal Mines   (Beth A. Skala, Canada)
Flying   (Pearl Elizabeth Dell May, U.K.)
Reflections   (David McCullough, Japan)

審査委員   Judges
Nenten Tsubo’uchi, Stephen Henry Gill, Hisashi Miyazaki, Angelee Deodhar

Sincere thanks to all authors who sent in their haiku prose works: 133 in total from 15 countries. It is wonderful to find that this year’s Grand Prix winner is a member of our Hailstone Haiku Circle in Kansai, Japan – Icebox contributor Branko Manojlovic! Hearty congratulations. For the first time, the winner will actually be able to select from the Genjuan Prize folio the large and very fine ukiyo-e reproduction print he has won. Usually, we have to imagine what the particular author might like and airmail it in a super-large protective folder. The Forbidden Pet is a very fine piece, as indeed were all the Cottage Prize winning haibun. These four works are now available to read on a dedicated page on the Icebox and you can find out what sort of forbidden pet it is! Another of our contributors, David McCullough, has won an Honourable Mention. Ignatius Fay, who won a Cottage Prize two years ago, has done it again! Congratulations to all of our awardees.

Watch this space for further announcements about the anthology of awarded pieces 2015-17, to be published next month, and the shape of next years’s Contest.

Pointing the Lens

Posted in Haibun, Spring with tags , , on April 6, 2018 by David Stormer Chigusa

Work is work, except at lunchtime. And I have the good fortune of working near Ichigaya in Tokyo, meaning an early afternoon walk down there during the hanami season is like taking an exotic little vacation. I even take my camera, like a real tourist.

Brief blossom
at its height, gusts,
china blue sky

Many of the garish blue tarpaulins spread out on the banks of the Kanda River under blossom-laden branches are occupied by only one person, stationed to keep the spot for colleagues who will gather there later on. Some such lone employees are virtually still at work, hunched over a laptop. Others are not as diligent.

Just one petal
of the pink and white cascade
crowns the sleeper

Nearly all the cameras (smartphone and dedicated) capturing blossom shots are pointed sweetly and conventionally skyward. But over there is a blossoming branch, half in shadow, overhanging the dark, dank top of a shabby roadside waterworks bunker that’s strewn with just-fallen petals. I snap it. I get looks.

Chuckles for
pointing the lens
at where spring hides

hanami – cherry blossom viewing