Archive for 俳文

My Trip to the North: 3. The Hells of Osorezan

Posted in Haibun, Summer with tags , on November 6, 2016 by sosui

.. After enjoying a bowl of rice topped with tuna for my lunch, I went to Osorezan via the city of Mutsu. This was a roundabout course, but the shortcut along the Ohata River was too narrow for sightseeing buses. The road from Mutsu up to Osorezan was an ancient highway with stone pillars marking distances from the shrine. It was also dotted with stone images of Jizo, the traveller’s guardian. I found the Fountain of Hiyamizu was still alive. Its icy water was coming straight down from the mountains. Here and there I saw pink flowers of valley deutzia, but was told that they were never used as decorations for the house. I wondered why.
.. Crossing the so-called River Styx, we entered the precincts of Osorezan, a Zen temple belonging to the Soto Sect. Soon, the smell of sulphur hit my nose. Watched by six huge statues of Jizo, representing the six phases of existence, I passed through the first gate. On the second gate was displayed a large square plaque of beautiful blue colour, inscribed “Osorezan” in silver characters. The building at the end of the path housed the main Jizo image and a statue of Ennin, the founder of the temple.
.. Up to this point, we had been walking on flat ground, but as we turned to the left, we entered the rocky region of the ”Hells”. Many infernal pools now came into view, with such horrible names as ‘the Pool of Blood’ and ‘the Pool of Grave Sinners’. Each was somewhat different in shape and colour, but they were all pools of sulphurous water that had issued out of the volcanic strata. Huge piles of rocks were seen in places, but what arrested my attention was the piles of smaller stones that had obviously been fashioned by human hands. I was told that they had been made supernaturally by children who had passed away before their parents as an expression of their regret at doing so. I was not persuaded, presuming, rather, that these piles of stones may have been made by the parents to express their own sorrow at the untimely death of their children. My conviction was strengthened by the red stick-windmills often placed on top of the piles. Was it not the parents who had placed them there out of a desire to buy them for the deceased children? The place where I saw the greatest number of windmills was around the statue of the guardian of aborted and miscarried children.

……. An endless rattle…
……. Little windmills spinning round,
……. Calling to the dead.

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2017 Opens

Posted in Challenge!, Haibun with tags , on September 27, 2016 by Tito

This is still Japan’s only international haibun contest. Entry is free and there are prizes and certificates. This year we have one new judge, Ellis Avery, who is American, female, a haiku poet, but also a novelist and a fiction writing teacher at Columbia University. She is a contributor to Icebox, too.

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 late 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 ’16 Winning Haibun’).

Entries to : Ms. Eiko Mori, 2-11-23-206 Jokoji, Amagasaki-shi, Hyogo-ken 660-0811, Japan (to arrive between 1 Oct. 2016 and 31 Jan. 2017)

We have lowered the minimum length stipulation to make it easier for writers using English as their second language. Each entry should total 7 to 35 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. We are sorry, but email entries are not accepted.

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

Full details via the page link (top right) ‘Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2017 Guidelines’.  Please do take part!

My Trip to the North: 2. The Promontory of Oma

Posted in Haibun, Summer with tags , on September 12, 2016 by sosui

As the ferryboat approached Oma, I was able to see an island with a lighthouse and the Promontory of Oma, so flat that it seemed the sea was ready to swallow it up. Oma is famous for tuna fishing, but I did not sight any boats. After landing, our bus took us to the Promontory, the northernmost point of the mainland of Japan, where I saw a huge concrete image of tuna, and a stone monument to Ishikawa Takuboku with the following poem inscribed.

………. An Eastern Island:
………. On the white sands of its beach,
………. I weep by myself
………. Till I am wet with the tears,
………. Playing with scuttling crabs.

The Eastern Island mentioned in this famous poem was believed to be Benten Island. It had looked quite distant from the tip of the Promontory when I had seen it from the ferryboat, but now it seemed close enough to reach by swimming. The lighthouse was painted in stripes of white and dark green, and there was a red buoy dancing in the waves before it.

………. Tuna-abounding seas,
………. To the far horizon, blue,
………. Their summer colour.

……………….. The Eastern Island:
……………….. The lively June waves breaking
……………….. Wash its sandy shore.

………………………… On a sunny day
………………………… In the long monsoon season,
………………………… Gulls crossing the strait.

Meandering

Posted in Haibun, Summer with tags on September 3, 2016 by Branko

For more than ten years now, each summer I have gone back to Serbia, the place of my birth. This summer, my family took a four-day trip to the southwest of the country. On the third day we found ourselves at the Special Natural Reserve, ‘Uvac’. My son and I joined a boat tour along its famous meanders, the longest of its kind in Europe. The emerald body of water snakes its way through the Uvac Canyon for some 25 kilometres. The tour took five hours, yet it was probably the quickest five hours of my life.

Our first stop was at the so-called ‘Ice Cave’. The name does it justice, as it was very chilly indeed, but the cave’s mysterious beauty more than made up for this.

………. The cave floor –
………. as if petrified Buddhas
………. stirred in our torchlight

Our second port of call was the foot of a hill, from where we had to climb a narrow forest path. Young and old, weak and strong, we all reached the viewpoint with only minor scratches. And there was a sight to behold: the meandering Canyon beneath us, in all its glory, last sanctuary of the majestic Griffon vulture.

As we were climbing down toward the boat, I overheard someone saying, as if reading my own mind: ‘May this reserve remain intact forever’.

………. Cruising along 
………. Uvac’s meanders –
………. a
 vulture’s regal flight

 

My Trip to the North: 1. Tsugaru Strait

Posted in Haibun, Summer with tags , on August 7, 2016 by sosui

Compelled by my desire to see the Tsugaru Straits, I took a ferryboat from Hakodate to Oma. I first went to look at the Mashu Maru, a retired ferryboat which used to connect Hakodate with Aomori. It was a large boat, but it looked rather lonely moored at a pier. I thought of the tragedy of the Toya Maru caused by a typhoon: the boat sank killing more than one thousand people including the captain. The ferryboat I took was much smaller than the national railway ferryboats, but it was elegantly constructed. The room reserved by the travel agent for our group was an unfurnished carpeted room. I decided to spend most of my time in a chair on the deck. The weather was good. I was able to enjoy the blue sky, the blue sea, and the blue mountains.
Having left behind the red lighthouse standing at the end of a breakwater, our boat sailed along beneath the steep slopes of Mt. Hakodate. The Big-Nose Promontory was a sharp cliff, black in most places but dotted with white spots. I thought it might be made of ageing limestone. The boat went round this promontory, allowing us to see another rocky place called the Stand-and-Wait Promontory, where the famous poet, Ishikawa Takuboku, has his grave. As the ferryboat sailed into the Tsugaru Strait, unexpectedly, dolphins appeared on the port side as if to welcome us. They came and went so suddenly I did not have time to count them, nor to take their picture, but I regarded this welcome as a special bonus.

………. Sharper than arrows,
………. They cut the dark brine, splashing —
………. A pod of dolphins.

(Sosui is Nobuyuki Yuasa)

Sea Breeze

Posted in Haibun, Summer with tags on July 24, 2016 by Tito

.. Yesterday, July 23rd, I went to a favourite place, the sacred isle of Oshima 雄島 in North Fukui, to launch my birthday balloon. It was no. 47 in a series going all the way back to Spain in 1970: an annual personal ritual. My stepmother had sent me a bright yellow card on which the silver words “You can have a happy childhood at any age” were printed.

.. Crossing back again onto the mainland, I retreated into Anto’s one-and-only cafe for some ice and shade. At the only other occupied table, two young lads were doing part of their holiday homework under the watchful eye of Grandma. One was trying to squeeze a little more red out of a well-used tube of pigment.

…….. Vermilion bridges
…….. Over cobalt seas:
…….. Two boys’ summer paintings

+ click on the photo to see the balloon! +

Sri Lanka – stolen flowers, dancing & worms

Posted in Haibun, Travel with tags , on May 25, 2016 by David Stormer Chigusa

We went to Sri Lanka last week for four days for a friend’s wedding. Everyone received a gift from the bride and groom, then the DJ got going – and so did the most dance-addled wedding crowd I’d ever had the gleeful privilege to be a part of.

Slights like
this smaller gift –
then dancing

We were taken around some of the sights on the island for a couple of days after the wedding, one of which was Danbulla Temple. We were all given a flower at the entrance to take up to the temple. Mine didn’t even make it halfway.

A flower for Buddha
Devoured in bliss
By a monkey

dambulla-monkey

Leaving, there was a brief, ostensibly routine, yet all-the-same extraordinary, pat-down at the airport that left me glazy and strangely elated.

Touched like that
at security
woke warm worms

No other words for it. (But, for a little context, may I add that friends were there, one of whom – from Brazil – is into gardening, for which he breeds worms: minhoca [mee-nyo-ka] in Portuguese.)