Archive for 俳文

When Tuna Die

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Modern, Translation with tags , on November 25, 2015 by Hisashi Miyazaki

Nenten Tsubo’uchi’s haiku group, Sendan, held a Japanese language haibun contest to run parallel with the Genjuan one earlier this year (Judges were NT, SHG, HM and two others). The winning piece, by Haruaki Kato, has now been translated into English by the author himself with help from SHG. We hope you will find reading this recent Japanese haibun both interesting and enjoyable.


…. “People say that tuna have to keep on swimming because they’d die if they stopped. I wonder what exactly happens, though, when a tuna dies of old age?” If my wife had not said this to me one day in a low, tired voice, I suppose I wouldn’t have thought about this issue so seriously.
…. We had just heard the news about the ‘mass death’ of tuna in a gigantic tank, the main feature of a famous aquarium. They were saying that the cause of death was still under investigation, and that a wide variety of hypotheses— including virus, stress, and even radioactivity— were flying about. For me, to be honest, the cause of the death didn’t really matter: I was shocked by the event itself. It was the simple realization that tuna die, just as we do, that had made me upset. I suppose the word ‘tuna’ had always conjured up to me either the image of a great shoal of them swimming freely across the ocean, or the vision of something being taken out of the freezer ready to be served as delicious sashimi. I had really never thought seriously about how fish passed away. And it was not only fish, but with any kind of wild animal, I’d always supposed they must die in a dramatic incident—being preyed on, perhaps, by a ferocious natural enemy or caught by a brave hunter or fisherman—just like I’d seen in art-house films.
…. Yet it is not like that at all. They might actually die, say, of liver disease, or of unfortunate food poisoning, or perhaps by bumping into a rock in an accident. It is simply the ego of humans, who desperately desire a peaceful ending of their own lives, to imagine other animals die in dramatic fashion. And it’s also true that most of us aren’t particularly concerned about the deaths of ordinary, inconspicuous creatures, for whom a dramatic end might seem rather out of place.
…. Death is all around us, and countless are the lives being lost at this very moment. The only way for us to survive in this world is to ignore such deaths, just as we do not consider the air as we breathe it in. Only occasionally might we bring to mind a highly dramatic or a deeply peaceful death and be moved thereby. This is rather like whales, still surfacing for air time and again, although their ancestors chose to give up the land for the ocean long ago. We need to think of death sometimes so as not to drown in life’s breathless waters.
…. Anyway, that is what I thought to myself as I stood there in a supermarket at the corner of the seafood counter, holding packed shelled oysters which were floating inside their sealed bag filled with water. The oysters appeared to me as if they might be enjoying zero gravity while refusing to ‘belong’ to either life or death. They seemed so calm in the airless tension.
…. When I looked up from my reverie, my wife was already in front of the meat counter far ahead. I put the packed spacewalking oysters back onto the counter, and weaved my way over to her through the crowds.

The oysters, too—
their spirits prepared
for whatever may come

Journeys 2015

Posted in Book, Haibun, News with tags , on October 29, 2015 by Tito

We seldom advertise others’ books on this site, but, given that two Hailstones (NY and SHG) and one recent visitor and Genjuan Haibun Grand Prix-winner (MC) are featured, we thought we would make an exception for ‘Journeys 2015’, which contains no less than 145 haibun, some published for the first time. Journeys 2015If we look down the list of contributors’ names, we must conclude that this is sure to be an excellent collection of contemporary world haibun and fortifies the mission to make haibun a genre of world literature, one of the twin objectives of the Genjuan Haibun Contest (the other being to re-introduce the genre to its mother nation, Japan).

Tirelessly edited by Angelee Deodhar in Chandigarh, India. Hopefully, the collection will gain a large Indian readership, not to mention many others around the world. For a list of contributors please go here: and for ordering details, here:

Belek Diary – Day 5

Posted in Haibun, Summer, Travel with tags on September 28, 2015 by Branko

Today we take a roundabout way to the beach. At the outset, the mostly concrete path is walkable. The flora left and right ranges from oriental hickory to soft-needled pine to all kinds of fern and thicket. There are cacti in bloom, green banana clusters, sweet-scented citron trees, all looking sharp and well looked after.

As we move closer to the coast though, the vegetation grows wilder, messier. We pace down a footpath flanked by a freeform hedge that has forgotten the last time it was trimmed. There is an odd, rhythmical sound coming from behind dense leafage to the left: difficult to pinpoint its source. I mention to Luke that it was here the other day that I had seen a couple of large grey seabirds. ‘It looks as if here might have crept all sorts of furry paws’, I say. The next thing we know, a huge—and I mean huge—rat hurries down the track in front of our very noses, promptly vanishing under the hedge.

…….. A rodent scuttling
…….. across the path – appearing
…….. double size!

The by-now unsettling noise does not cease with the rat’s disappearance. In fact, it seems to be getting louder: schrum…schrum…SCHRUM… Is there a whole army of belligerent beasts lying in ambush? And what if they decided to go for an all-out attack! Oh boy, are we relieved once we reach the end of the footpath when rows of lawn sprinklers suddenly come into view.

…….. Here the ocean breeze
…….. and loose sand, our legs
…….. our only guide


Footnote: Belek is a coastal village near Antalya in southern Turkey. 

Genjuan Haibun Contest 2015 Results

Posted in Haibun, News with tags , , on May 1, 2015 by Tito
Grand Prix:
Mining Memories – Sonam Chhoki (Bhutan)
An (Cottage) Prizes:
Inupiat Lessons – Doris Lynch (USA)
A Cycle Ride – Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy (India/UK)
Cattle Dreaming – Barbara A. Taylor (Australia)
Honourable Mentions:
In Country – Carol Pearce-Worthington (USA)
New Year’s Eve, 12/31/2014 – Earl R. Keener (USA)
The Visitant – Barbara Strang (New Zealand)
My Husband’s Croissants – Margaret Chula (USA)
Learning English – Dru Philippou (USA)
Nenten Tsubouchi, Stephen Henry Gill (Tito), Hisashi Miyazaki
This year we had 106 entries from 15 different countries, a very encouraging response. Firstly, the judges wish to thank all those who took the trouble to send something in to the Contest Office. Secondly, we offer our hearty congratulations to the authors of the above decorated works. It was not too onerous a job for the judges to bring the field down to a short-list of 16 works, but it proved rather difficult to decide on the winners. As it turns out, American writers had a very good year and the British and Irish, not such a good one. Many of the ones that fell at the last hurdle were by writers from the latter two countries. This we learned after the judging was finished. It is good to see awards going this year both to poets in Oz and in NZ. With Nepal now drawing the world’s attention because of the suffering of its people in the wake of the Earthquake, it is remarkable that the Grand Prix has been won by an author from Himalayan neighbour, Bhutan, which we sincerely hope escaped the terrible destruction further to the west. The piece is a tour de force and included an apposite classical quotation, something there is perhaps too little of in Western haibun. A Japanese haibun contest was concurrently held by Nenten’s ‘Sendan’ group and the three judges had to work on those pieces almost in parallel. A busy time! The winning piece in that contest was a whimsical haibun about how it is that tuna die. In future we hope to be able to translate that work and share it here. The top four Genjuan works will be posted later this month as a special page on the Icebox for all to enjoy.

Guidelines and deadline for the 2016 Genjuan Contest have now been posted on a separate page (click the page link at top right).

Genjuan Haibun Contest Decorated Works 2012-2014 published

Posted in Book, Haibun, News with tags , on March 30, 2015 by Tito

We are glad to report that “Genjuan Haibun Contest Decorated Works 2012-2014” has just been published. It contains all 29 awarded haibun pieces from these years and follows on the heels of its sister publication, “Kikakuza Haibun Contest Decorated Works 2009-2011”, which was compiled by the same two judges, Nobuyuki Yuasa and Stephen Henry Gill. KC4F0006The works come from many different countries around the world. The book costs ¥1,000 and the p&p charge to be added is likely to be around ¥510 abroad and ¥220 within Japan. We will decide a round figure and post it onto the Publications page soon (see link at top right of this page).

All entrants to the Contest during the years 2012-14 will in due course be sent a complimentary copy! Hopefully this will be done by May. Entry into our Contest has always been free, yet we send out real prizes and certificates to awardees, and we have always felt that we wish to return the support we enjoy from so many poets by also sending out a free copy of our resultant publication. Please be patient as we strive to find the time to perform this task.

The book also contains 4 classical haibun (by Basho, Kyorai, Buson, Issa), 3 haibun by the judges, judges’ comments, 13 classical illustrations (by Basho, Taiga, Buson, Goshun), 4 photos of classical haibun sites, and a preface and ‘farewell’ (including some words on the nature of haibun) by Nobuyuki. SHG has added a postscript.

This year’s judging has reached its final stage, but the announcement of the 2015 Contest results is likely to take a few more weeks, please note. When ready, it will be made here.

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun, News with tags , , on September 6, 2014 by Tito

This is Japan’s only international haibun contest. Entry is free and there are prizes and certificates. With the retirement of Nobuyuki Yuasa after serving for six years as judge of (first) the Kikakuza and (subsequently) the Genjuan Contests, this year we have one new judge, Nenten Tsubouchi, who is welcomed as one of Japan’s most respected haiku poets with an unusual interest in haibun. He is a modernist with a very strong classical foundation. You can see a photo and learn a little more about him here

Ideally, there will be one Grand Prix, a number of An Prizes (‘Cottage’ Prizes, highly commended), and some Honourable Mentions, too. The authors of entries chosen for the first two of these categories will receive prizes, and all decorated works will warrant a certificate from the organizers. In the spring, the results will be displayed here on the Hailstone Icebox and elsewhere. You can read last year’s winning pieces on a separate page (‘Genjuan Winning Haibun’).

Entries to : Ms. Eiko Mori, 2-11-23-206 Jokoji, Amagasaki-shi, Hyogo-ken 660-0811, Japan (to arrive between 1 Oct. 2014 and 31 Jan. 2015)

We have lowered the minimum length stipulation to make it easier for writers using English as their second language. Each entry should total 10 to 40 lines (at 1 line = 80 spaces), with title and at least one haiku (no formal restrictions). Print on one side of A4, if possible, with your name and address, tel. no., and email address typed along the bottom. The judges will not get to know your identity until judging is over and the Genjuan Contest office already knows the results.

Judges: Nenten Tsubouchi, Stephen Henry Gill, Hisashi Miyazaki.

Full details via the page link (top right) ‘幻住庵 Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015 Guidelines’.  Please do take part!

Genjuan Haibun Contest 2014 Results

Posted in Haibun, News with tags , , on April 21, 2014 by Tito
After three years as the ‘Kikakuza International Haibun Contest’, we have now completed another three as the ‘Genjuan Haibun Contest’ and the latest results are now ready to be announced. This year we received 83 entries from 14 countries –  Australia, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, UK, and USA. For the first time there were three judges, Hisashi Miyazaki having been co-opted to work beside Nobuyuki Yuasa and Stephen Henry Gill. We also had a new contest officer, Eiko Mori. Initially the judges each came up with different favourite pieces, but in time they all agreed that the winning piece had all of the characteristics we look for in haibun and was the best choice overall, exhibiting great poise.
One point came up several times during judging: it is better not to describe too fully in haibun. Many pieces were written captivatingly, even brilliantly, but perhaps rather too fully. We were looking for gaps or leaps in the narrative in which the reader’s imagination can go to work.
Nobuyuki Yuasa is due to retire from judging the Contest next year and Nenten Tsubouchi to replace him. This will be confirmed when we publish the guidelines for the 2015 Genjuan sometime this summer or autumn.
The judges wish to thank all entrants for their efforts and to congratulate the authors of the ten awarded haibun pieces, who will each be receiving signed certificates. The four prize-winners will get beautiful Japanese traditional artifacts. You may now read their haibun pieces on a special page, ‘Genjuan ’14 Winning Haibun’, accessed via the page link at top right of the top page.

The results are as follows:

幻住庵 Grand Prix
Well of Beauty — Margaret Chula, Oregon, USA
庵 An (Cottage) Prizes
The Bardo of Justice — Sonam Chhoki, Thimphu, Bhutan
Caged Birds — Margaret Dornaus, Arkansas, USA
Uncle Walter — John Parsons, Norfolk, UK
Honourable Mentions
There Are Two Moons — David McCullough, Kyoto, Japan
The Meeting — Geethanjali Rajan, Tamil Nadu, India
Prime Meridian — John Kinory, Oxfordshire, UK
Independent Dog — Daniela Kuzmanova, Sofia, Bulgaria
New Beginnings — Barbara A. Taylor, NSW, Australia
Renunciation — Matthew Caretti, Pennsylvania, USA

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