Haiku from The Tokyo 2020 Olympics

We had 兼題 (suggested topic) at both of the Hailstone English Haiku seminars in August: ‘Olympic sports’. As they watched on their TV sets, poets in both Kyoto and Osaka composed haiku and haiqua on athletics, swimming, cycling, skateboard, gymnastics, surfing, karate, table tennis, baseball, sports climbing, and so forth. To celebrate the Games’ conclusion, here’s a small selection of them after slight 添削 (tweaking).

August sun —
beckoning deities to her chest
her hop step  j  u  m  p! (KY)

Tattooed eagle
on the Olympian’s arm
cleaves the water —
the final length (YA)

peeking over
the ping-pong table
a tiny girl’s happy face —
training for the Olympics (TY)

Neptune’s billow
brings the surfer to …
glory on the beach (HS)

a climber, hung
upside down
poised for the next move …
sweat beads on her cheeks (AK)

To watch the bobbing heads
of BMX cyclists …
illegal crowd
on a distant bridge (T)

Beside the summer stream

….. Fishes splash
….. on a plastic tray—
….. water slaps my face

…………… (Mayumi Kawaharada)

The summer has been wet, Kiyotaki b'fly 31.8.14 by Chizurubut the sun shone on our joint picnic with PTO volunteers on 31 August at Kiyotaki. Saito-san even caught some small river fish to grill. A butterfly no one had ever seen before dropped by for a drink from the wet sand.

….. Threading
….. stone after stone
….. s t r e a m w a t e r
….. following itself down

…………… (Tito)

….. A dragonfly
….. out of barbecue smoke—
….. the river flows on

…………… (Eiko Mori)

Matsumoto Jin at Kiyotaki
(sketch by Jin Matsumoto)

Plain Living, Happy Singing


From the bus stop

Still a long, long way to go—

Summer groves.


Toshi Ida’s new book has just been delivered from the printers! It is a solo English haiku collection, complete with Japanese versions, divided into four seasonal sections. There are also many nice haiga illustrations and photos (by the author himself), and a series of ten haibun pieces at the back of the book. The title of the book alludes to a lament by Wordsworth, “Plain living and high thinking are no more”, but also to the natural bird-like ‘singing’ of the author’s heart as he lives the haiku ethic every day. The book’s subtitle is ‘Haiku Scenes’. This is the first individual collection published by the Hailstone Haiku Circle. Congratulations to Toshi!

¥860 (U.S.$ 8) + p&p. The book will soon be available at Hailstone events, or in the post via Mari Kawaguchi (domestic) and Hisashi Miyazaki (international). Contact details are given on our Publications page (via the page link at top right).


Ginko of the Falling Leaves



This composition stroll, originally organized by Keiko and Stephen to welcome Boston Haiku Society’s Raffael de Gruttola, was held in Kyoto’s ‘Central Park’ – 京都御苑  Kyoto Gyoen, about the old Imperial Palace – on November 27. R’s tour hosts had other plans for him, though. Gerald brought his children, Taiji and Miya. After two hours of strolling through the autumn leaves, we ended up in the cafe-restaurant, Uenoyama, there sharing some of our haiku of the day, … of which a sample:

autumn sun…
a cat curls up
into one of the stone lanterns
(Gerald Staggers)

haiku poet
shimmering colored leaves
(Akira Kibi)

the wood thick
with colored leaves…
from sister’s seeking
brother hides well
(Keiko Yurugi)

Taught about
“Relax Bear”
Under a burning maple

through a stone archway
to collect holy water
for my aged mum –
falling leaves
(Mari Kawaguchi)

treading on fallen leaves…
his name repeated,
“the poet, Raffael”

. φ . ζ . φ . ζ . φ . ζ . φ . ζ . φ . ζ . φ .

10th-anniversary Annual Autumn Haike

near Kukai’s spring

a wild boar in the darkness –

eve of pilgrimage


Kukai’s spring is on the north side of Daikakuji Temple in Kitasaga, 100m from where Stephen used to live. The Hailstone Autumn Haike 2010 was to be at Koyasan, the site of one of Japan’s greatest monasteries, which Saint Kukai had founded in the mountains of Wakayama almost twelve hundred years ago. And so, on the way back from a haiku workshop and meditation for Hailstone in central Kyoto the previous evening,  Stephen took his guest from England, Kim Richardson, to the spring. (They later told us that they had done their first haiku hike together along the Pilgrims’ Way in southern England in 1979!)

First Day, October 15

The following morning, Kim and Stephen made their way across Kansai to Kii-Hosokawa station to walk the last part of the old Choishimichi 町石道 trail up to Koyasan.

…. pilgrim path

…. the man coming the other way

…. has cleared the spiders’ webs

…. (Kim)

That old chestnut

In a grove of conifers –

How it takes the breeze!


…. A Koya bee

…. On a Koya thistle

…. On a Koya road.

…. (Tito)

That evening, the two were joined in Koyasan by Hailstones, Richard Donovan and Ursula Maierl. We ate shōjin-ryōri at Eko-in Temple, where, after haiku-sharing and, in Ursula’s case, a lantern-lit ramble through the medieval cemetery, we bedded down for the night.

kohl-pencilled moon

over Eko-in temple –

seeking erasure


…. the incense-lady rests

…. a Buddha-engraved stone

…. on the 10,000 yen note

…. (Ursula)

Second Day, October 16

Friendly young monks came to collect us for the 6:30 am Shingon service in the main temple hall of Eko-in, followed by the 7:00 fire ceremony in another hall. The many foreign visitors huddled, hushed amid the clashing of cymbals, banging of drums, intoning of sutras, and latter tossing of votive wood into the rising flames.

mudra-making monk’s

precise, polite


flares into passion


After a simple vegan breakfast we made our way through Okunoin 奥之院 Temple’s vast cemetery towards Kukai’s Mausoleum, a helpful local directing us back to Basho’s haiku monument along the way.

…. this moss-encircled stump –

…. bibbed Jizo-sama

…. nestle,

…. cradled within

…. (Ursula)

At Gobyōbashi 御廟橋 Bridge, we parted ways, Ursula and Kim contemplating the holy waters, while Stephen and Richard visited the mausoleum and then attempted to walk part of the encircling pilgrimage trails, with their tantalising glimpses of neighbouring wooded peaks and incipient autumnal tints.

…. in the sacred river

…. stepping stones

…. and the names of the unborn

…. (Kim)

Many the paths,

Few the signs

To Mount Mani:

Crows confused.







We regrouped at a Tibetan vegetarian restaurant for lunch, then toured Kongōbuji 金剛峯寺, the head temple of the Shingon sect. Soon it was time for us to descend Koyasan and make our circuitous journeys home – in Kim’s case, a next-day flight back to England.

Although the first Autumn Haike was not held until 2002, Stephen and Richard were among those who walked the very first Haiku Hike in spring 2000, coincidentally also in Wakayama, along the Nakahechi portion of the Kumanokodō 熊野古道 pilgrimage trail, so it was a privilege for us to celebrate Hailstone’s 10th anniversary in Koyasan. Where will the next Autumn Haike take us?

…. the sesame tofu

…. quivering on chopstick-tips:

…. i n d e c i s i o n

…. (Richard)

from the Icebox inbox – 16

loosening the storm crowflight in the rain     (Stuart Quine)

in the window
Rodin’s “Thinker”
and the far-off hills  (Ken Jones)

Under the bushes
A sleek slim grey bird …
Is its nest nearby?        (Jane Wieman)

evening breeze
did you see?
the leaves are free         (Priyanka Bhowmick)

Town full of sea fret –
Dew-bespangled in the sun,
Beachy Down glistens.       (Kamome)

(sea fret = sea mist;  Beachy Down = the ‘shoulder’ of Beachy Head, tallest chalk sea-cliff on the south coast of England)

V to U
a parliament of rooks
shift their flight       (Alan Summers)

(parliament = group; rooks = white-billed member of the crow family)

H & C


A hole in the wall

Thorns on acacia


Thursday arrives.


Not a chihuahua in sight

In Chihuahua town

Although we ask around –

Blanket of winter sun.


These were composed, respectively in Hermosillo and Chihuahua, on a trip made to Northern Mexico in early February this year. For another haiku (with photo), see earlier posting ‘Mexequine’; and for a haibun about crossing back through Juarez into the US, please see ‘Longer Haibun’ page (via link at top right).