Archive for Tanka

‘Emperors & Generals’ Ginko

Posted in Event report, Japanese Classic with tags , on December 22, 2015 by Mayumi Kawaharada

December 11th, a torrential downpour. The following morning, however, a bright sunny start to the day. Six haiku poets set out with fresh hearts ready to pen their thoughts on a walk that would traverse the course of centuries: the route from Tambabashi to Fushimi Momoyama took in the burial mounds of the first and last emperors to be associated with Kyoto, and two shrines with imperial connections. It normally takes an hour and a half; the Hailstones managing to spin it out to five hours, with two participants even staying on a while longer in a saké bar.

Its last fruit weighed          P1020327 quince
Against December blow:
The quince tree

– Branko

There are few visitors to Kammu’s grave, yet the founder of Kyoto surely deserves recognition for the extent of his historical legacy. For lovers of the city this is an awe-inspiring spot, and by the side we found a persimmon tree laden with fruit, as if in honour. Nearby, the tower of the rebuilt castle of Hideyoshi’s time could be seen through the trees. Kammu’s grave, like other imperial mounds, typifies the blending of ancestral worship and animism that form the twin pillars of Shinto. Through placing the corpse in the earth, the deceased evolves into the landscape, and the imperial spirit is transformed into a true ‘spirit of place’.

DSCN6140

Emperor’s mound
The sound of birdsong
Like gagaku

– John


On the green moss path
Autumn leaves spotlighted
By morning sunshine

– Mayumi

From Kammu’s grave it’s a short walk through pleasant woods to the burial mound of Emperor Meiji. Here is evident the pomp and glory of State Shinto, as the Restored Emperor at the centre of the Meiji regime was given a full-scale burial designed to impress. You only have to stand at the bottom of the huge stairway leading up to the shrine to appreciate the grandeur. As Mutsuhito, he was the last emperor to be born in the city, and the last who could be considered a Kyoto man. His father died when he was 14, making him emperor; he was ‘restored to power’ at the age of 15; he shifted the capital to Tokyo and married at 16. Quite a start to life! Meiji was something of a poet, and after paying respects at the grave of his father, Emperor Komei, he penned the following:

月の輪のみささきまうでする袖に松の古葉もちりかかりつつ
Visiting the family tombs
At Tsukinowa;
On my baggy sleeves
Old pine needles, cast off,
Collecting …

Out of view, and discretely located to one side, is the burial mound of Meiji’s chief wife, Empress Shoken, who died two years later. She had no children of her own, whereas her husband had fifteen by his concubines, or official mistresses. So she adopted the son of one of the other ‘wives’ and brought him up as heir apparent (later to become Emperor Taisho).

P1020597Pine seedlings
Sprouting here and there –
The childless empress

– Kyoko

Not far away from the imperial mounds is the shrine of Meiji’s devoted servant, General Nogi, who served as governor of Taiwan. He was the last person (together with his wife) to commit junshi, ritual suicide to follow one’s master into death. After distinguished service against the Chinese in 1894, he was made commander of the forces who took Port Arthur from the Russians a decade later, thus helping cement victory against the Europeans in the 1904-5 war. He was appalled, however, at the loss of life of those under him and sent a letter to the Emperor requesting permission to commit suicide. Though the request was refused, he and his wife felt obliged to take their lives in 1912 immediately following the funeral of Emperor Meiji.  Some praised him highly for loyalty and devotion; others saw it as a retrograde act of feudalism.

…. After stories of war
…. At the General’s shrine,
…. Free tangerines.

…. – Tito

Gokonomiya is not one of the better-known shrines of Kyoto, though in any other town it would certainly be a focus of attention. Said to have been built on the site of an imperial villa, the connection is further reflected in its enshrined deities, the Empress Jingu and her son, Emperor Ojin (also known as Hachiman). Spring water with a particularly fresh aroma gushed out of the earth here in 863  – hence the name ‘Shrine of Fragrance’. The water is treasured by parishioners, who bottle it for home consumption.

The haiku poets were able to find a condusive corner of the shrine in which to compare their writings for the day, perched on large rocks taken from the remains of Hideyoshi’s castle. As the sun went down on what had been a fine outing blessed with good weather, we were able to pick over what we had gathered from the day.

Late autumn
Sunset sinking
Into the vermilion torii

– Lawrence

At Gokonomiya, we happened on a haiku monument bearing poems by both Basho and Kyorai. Though none of us could decipher the cursive writing, a check on the Internet later revealed what was inscribed.

梅が香にのつと日の出る山路哉
Scent of apricot blossom –
Suddenly the sun comes up
On the mountain road.

This was written by Basho in Fushimi in 1694, the year of his death. The second haiku on the Gokonomiya stone was by Kyorai (both Eng. trans. by SHG).

応々といえど敲くや雪の門
‘Alright, alright!’ I shout,
But the knocking goes on
At the snow-cloaked gate.

Report by John D. and Mayumi K.

Advertisements

Thames Way : Ulster Way (brown to blue)

Posted in Book, News, Walking with tags , , on September 21, 2015 by Tito
.
Former Kyoto-based Hailstone, Diarmuid Fitzgerald, launches his first haiku and tanka collection the Irish Writers’ Centre, Parnell Square in Dublin from 7pm on 22 Oct. Anyone in the area is welcome to attend, but should contact Diarmuid first. The collection is based on a long-distance walk he made along the Thames Way in Southern England. Published by Alba (Kim Richardson).
…………………………. fields of barley
…………………………. shift of hue
…………………………. from yellow
…………………………. to brown
…………………………. clouds pass
………………………………… DF, on the …
Thames Way
.
Icebox contributor, David McCullough, who has just begun a year’s sabbatical in his native Belfast, guided Tito recently along a stretch of the Ulster Way long-distance footpath in Antrim.
brown eyes of heifers
gazing at the ocean –
two jet trails
…….. DMcC, on the Ulster WayKC4F0045
.
……….. On an offshore islet
……….. a man reclining
……….. in a brown coat –
……….. the seal!
………………. Tito, ditto
DSC00289-

Between two lights

Posted in Tanka, Travel with tags on March 24, 2014 by Tito

IMG_0521b-.

.

.

.
.Halt and yield
.. At the path that leads
…. Along the chalky downs
…… From red sun
…….. To risen moon

(Hackhurst Downs, Surrey, 15.3.14)

photo: Kazue Gill (click on it to see the full moon at extreme left)

For Duro Jaiye

Posted in Summer, Tanka with tags on June 21, 2013 by Tito

.
Through this screen
…… of June rain
……… wondering:
………… Is Duro Jaiye out there
…………… in the Singapore smog?

The Meaning of the Mount

Posted in Japanese Classic, Japanese Modern, News, Winter with tags , , on February 8, 2011 by Tito

Here is the link to click for a listen to Stephen’s BBC Radio programme about the literary heritage and present grim state of Japan’s Mount of Poetry, Mt. Ogura in Kyoto. This mountain was the subject of Hailstone’s most recent book, One Hundred Poets (see Publications page). The name of the programme is The Essay: The Meaning of Mountains: 1. Japan, for it is part of a five-part series. You can probably hear them all at this site for another week, possibly more. The programme itself begins 1 min. 15 secs. in (fast forward) and lasts just under 15 mins. Please enjoy listening to waka and haiku by Tsurayuki, Saigyo, Teika, Basho, Shugyo Takaha, Sachi Amano, and three Hailstones – Nobuyuki Yuasa, John Dougill, and Tito!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00y6hwp/The_Essay_Meanings_of_Mountains_Japan/

石仏の首から首へ虎落笛(もがりぶえ)

About the necks
Of stone Buddhas in a line,
Winter wind
Whistling like a flute.

鷹羽狩行 Takaha Shugyo

The first memorial service

Posted in Japanese Modern, Summer, Tanka with tags on August 13, 2010 by Nori

My father passed away last August and my family had the first memorial service the day before yesterday. My mother, who is a poet, selected 66 tanka related to her husband, composed during those four last years when she had known about his disease, and compiled them into a handmade booklet. In Japan, it is customary to offer a gift to participants at the service. So the booklet was added to a box of sweets, without any special word.

I don’t write tanka or haiku that much. So I tried a little translation instead.

子育ての頃のごとくに看取りゐる夫ねむる間買い物に出づ

Just like I used to do / all those decades ago / when child-raising, / I go out to the grocery / leaving an invalid sleeping inside

ふるさとの球児ら躍動する映像夫見てゐき死の四日前

He was watching a broadcast / of the high-school baseball tournament, / his hometown players darting around: / this, only four short days / before his end

“100 Poets on Mount Ogura, One Poem Each” Publication Celebration

Posted in Event report, Haiku, News, Tanka with tags , on August 10, 2010 by Tito

Just past noon on 8th August, in Restaurant Arashiyama’s upstairs dining hall, our latest publication – a joint one with the NPO, People Together for Mt. Ogura – was launched at a lunch party. In spite of very hot summer weather, 36 came. 25 of these were poets with a verse in the book. Akito Mori, Okiharu Maeda and Stephen Gill shared the MC role, and there were speeches that included the reading of  ‘favourite poems’ from the collection.  Maeda chose #78, a Japanese tanka by Akira Daikanyama 空き缶や廃材見つけて拾いつつ / 歌枕の小倉山登る (trans. as)

Finding drinks cans, / builders’ rubbish … / and picking them up: / we climb the Mount of Ogura, / itself a rhetorical word!

Gill chose #71, an English haiku by Michael Jamentz

The Seto Brook trickles … / beneath lush green muck drips / battery acid

trans. as 瀬戸の源流 / 苔色の土に垂れている / バッテリーの酸

Yoshio Kawagoe (whose kiri’e scissor-cut illustrations embellish the book) chose #68, a Japanese haiku by Jin Matsumoto  虫たちの昨日の宴野菊策 (trans. as)

Remains of the party / the crickets had last night: / wild chrysanthemums bloom

Sean O’Connor (who assisted Stephen with selection of the English poems in the book)  chose #24, an English haiku by Moya Bligh

Through the trees, a boat; / glimpse of another world

trans. as 木々の間の / 舟に展ける別世界

The book is the fruit of six years of environmental work on the hill in Western Kyoto, where Fujiwara Teika once compiled the famous Hyakunin Isshu classical waka collection. The mountain is in bad shape, but things have looked up since the formation of PTO. Half the rubbish illegally discarded on the mountain has now been cleared. Volunteers, including more than 30 Hailstone poets, have written verse for the collection over the years. It is one of the first bilingual collections of tanka and haiku, and perhaps illustrates a role for poetry in the future: as a tool in environmental campaigning. Certainly, it is a rich and varied anthology, recording both the delightful and the disturbing faces of this famous, yet long-unloved patch of rural Kyoto.

Purchasing details for the 136-page book are given on our Publications page accessed via top right of the top page. ¥1,400 or $ 15.  Some of the money raised through sales will go towards continued nature conservation there.