Monday, June 18, 2018

Carpe Diem #1456 sweetfish (ayu)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful Kai. I had an easy day today. I had a day off and so this day I was going with the flow so to say. Of course I was busy in another way. I am busy with creating new features here and I love to bring back a few of the features we have seen here. Last Saturday I started again with reading Jane Reichhold's "Basho, The Complete Haiku" and I ran into wonderful haiku written by the master. Haiku that I hadn't really read the last time I read this book. That brought me an idea that I will use next month, but there was also a very rare incident this weekend.
I got an issue of a renaown mindfulness magazine here in The Netherlands and I read a wonderful article in that issue. Maybe you rememeber that I did a pre-announcement about our upcoming summer -retreat and it's theme "Finding The Way". Well that article I mentioned above was about "Finding The Way", it was about a pilgrimage, not the usual pilgrimage as for example "the road to santiago", but about an "inner pilgrimage", a pilgrimage you can do in the warmth of your own home. I will tell you more about it as I start our summer retreat on July 15th.

Okay ... back to our all day business this month, classical kigo for summer. Kigo, as you all know, are words that point towards the season in which the haiku was written and kigo are part of the classical way of writing haiku (or tanka).

Today's kigo is sweetfish (ayu) and I will try to tell you a little bit more about this classical kigo for summer.

The ayu or sweetfish, is a species of fish. It is the only species in the genus Plecoglossus and family Plecoglossidae. It is a relative of the smelts.

Native to East Asia, it is distributed in the northwestern Pacific Ocean along the coast of Hokkaidō in Japan southward to the Korean Peninsula, China, Hong Kong and northern Vietnam. It is amphidromous, moving between coastal marine waters and freshwater lakes and rivers. A few landlocked populations also exist in lakes in Japan such as Biwa. It is an introduced species in Taiwan.

Sweetfish (ayu) grilled in salt

The name "sweetfish" was inspired by the sweetness of its flesh. In reference to its typical one-year lifespan, it is also written clled "year-fish". Some individuals live two to three years. The ayu is the prefectural fish of Gunma Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture.

I found a nice haiku by Basho (written in 1689) translated by Gabi Greve about this sweetfish (ayu):

ayu no ko no shirauo okuru wakare kana

young ayu sweetfish
are seeing off the whitefish
and say good bye

© Basho (Tr. Gabi Greve)

This is what is said about this haiku: The whitefish are the first to go upstream to spawn, the ayu follow them one month later. Basho and Sora are ready to depart for "Oku no Hosomichi" and he has to leave his young disciples (ayu no ko) behind at Senju.

And another haiku, also by Basho:

mata ya tagui Nagara no kawa no ayu namasu

once again - this rare
pickled sweetfish
from river Nagaragawa

© Basho (Tr. Gabi Greve)

Sweetfish (ayu) woodblock print by Utagawa Hirosighe (1797-1858)
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 25th at noon (CEST). I will try to publish our new episode, luxurance (shigeri), later on. For now ... have fun!

By the way here is the winter kigo for our friends on the Southern Hemisphere: wicker fishnet (ajiro)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Carpe Diem #1455 half-year's end festival (nagoshi)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend and for the fathers ... did you have a nice Father's Day? I really had a wonderful Father's Day, because I could go walk with my grandson and my son-in-law along the most beautiful Oldtimers. Every year on Father's Day the city were I am living is organizing the so called "Oldtimer Day". Just around the corner of my home there were hundreds of Oldtimers and I enjoyed watching them and sit in them. My grandson was enthousiastic too, just like me and my son-in-law. Yes I had a wonderful Father's Day together with my kids and grandchildren. Awesome ... so to say.

Okay enough about my weekend, back to the business of every day ... creating a beautiful episode for our wonderful Kai. This month we are exploring classical kigo for summer and today that will be a nice one I think. Today's kigo is: half-year's end festival (nagoshi).

Nagoshi Festival Fireworks

Nagoshi is a great Japanese festival. Nagoshi (half year's end festival) and it's one of the 100.000 festivals which occur in Japan. Nagoshi is a kind of 'end summer' festival and it lasts for three days. Let us take a closer look at this festival.

Omura Nagoshi Matsuri (Festival) is a summer event held on the evenings of August 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Nagoshi is a shortening of “Nagoshi no Harae” which translates to “summer purification rites.” The original event brought to Japan from China occurred in the summer, usually on the last day of the 6th lunar month (June 30). However, because Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar rather than the Chinese calendar, many ancient Chinese rituals take place a month later than the original date. Therefore, Nagoshi no Harae takes place on July 31. On this day, People visit one of Omura’s 25 Shinto shrines to be purified of their sins and then, beginning August first is the celebration of that cleanse. A fireworks show is held over the bay on the first evening, displaying 3,000 to 4,000 rounds.

On the evening of the second and third, there are many vendors selling an array of food, drinks (alcoholic and non), toys, candy and Omura specialty products on the main road that leads from Omura Train Station. There are also various performances, visual arts and games for your entertainment. The main event, happening on the night of the third, is a two-hour parade/dance competition featuring many local Omura groups. Everyone dances the Omura Ondo, the region dance, while parading around Nagoshi Yume Dori (Dream Street) otherwise known as Omura Station Road.

Nagoshi Festival

What a joyful festival to celebrate the end of Summer. I don't know if there are such festivals in other regions of the world. Not in my country by the way, we celebrate the start of Summer, but never the end of it.

leaves are coloring
at the end of summer
days become shorter

© Chèvrefeuille

The above haiku is from my archives, but I had to come up with a new one too ...

dancing in the rain
summer runs towards its end
leaves start to color

© Chèvrefeuille

What a wonderful festival this must be. It feels really like the end of summer and I hope that I caught that essence in my second haiku.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 24th at noon (CEST). I will try to publish our new episode, sweetfish (ayu), later on. To conclude this episode here is the winter kigo for our friends on the Southern Hemisphere, year market (toshi no ichi).

Friday, June 15, 2018

Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #37 Troiku Challenge "Time"

!! Open for your submissions next Sunday June 17th at 7:00 PM (CEST) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Time flies ... I have said that very often here at CDHK, but it is so true. Time slips through our fingers like grains of sand. I remember that I started writing haiku back in the late eighties and than several years later, 2005, I published my first english haiku. And now ... look were we are now. In 2012 I started CDHK to promote the beauty of haiku and later other Japanese poetry forms like tanka and sedoka. We are "running" towards our 6th anniversary and I hope you all will celebrate that we me next October.

Time ... also a prompt we have seen here often e.g. back in January 2017, while we were on our pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, I made an episode about Time (here) or what do you think of this episode written by our friend Hamish Manaqua Gunn back in February 2016 (here).

Okay ... up we go ... no sentimental journey here (smiles). This weekend meditation I love to challenge you again to create a Troiku with a "fusion"-haiku. And this weekend I love to challenge you to create a "fusion"-haiku with the following haiku themed "time":

perpetual snow
reflects the sunlight - 
I dream of a nude beach

© Chèvrefeuille

through tears
cherry blossoms scattered
by the breeze

© Chèvrefeuille

I can almost hear you all think ... what have these haiku to do with time? But I think you can relate to the "time"-theme in these haiku.

The goal? Create a "fusion"-haiku from these two haiku and than use your "fusion"-haiku to create a Troiku with (more on Troiku? above in the menu).

Well .... have a great weekend full of inspiration .... awaken your muses and enjoy creating your once in year masterpiece ...

This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday June 17th at 7:00 PM (CEST) and will remain open until Sunday June 24th at noon (CEST). Enjoy your weekend!

PS. Do you have ideas for our 6th anniversary in October? Than please let me know.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Carpe Diem #1454 swimming (oyogi)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

A new day of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to share your Japanese poetry. And this month is already awesome through all those beautiful classical kigo for summer (and winter of course). It's a challenge for me, because I ask you to create haiku and tanka in the classical way, but I am not really into the classical way of writing haiku. I am more of the way of Santoka Taneda and Jane Reichhold, without those rules we all know (and can read in CD Lecture 1 above).

And I hope that our kigo for today will be a great source of inspiration for you too. Today our kigo is swimming (oyogi). It is taken from the summer sub-division Humanity. A nice one I think and one we can all relate to.

There are several sources that talk about "swimming (oyogi)", in the list I have used it's called a classical kigo, but other sources say that it is a modern kigo, so ... what to do ... with this kigo?
I searched for haiku with "swimming" in it and I ran into a nice series of haiku on swimming written by Issa. Let me give you an example of one of his haiku with this kigo:

mizu oyogu nomi no omoi ya kumo no mine

the swimming flea
thinks to reach them...
peaks of clouds

© Kobayashi Issa (Tr. Lanoue)

Let us take a look at Jane Reichhold's "Dictionary of Haiku" ... if this is a modern kigo. Well ... it's also a modern kigo for summer and one of Jane's haiku I love to share here with you. It's a nice one with a little bit of humor:

an old woman
swimming the August stream
the mossy smell

© Jane Reichhold (taken from the online version of her "Dictionary of Haiku")

Swimming (oyogi) (image © Eyes of Chris)
Koi swimming
through the clouds

© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... not as strong as I had thought, but I had some problems to create a haiku with this kigo. So I came up with a kind of experimental haiku. For our friends on the Southern Hemisphere I have a nice winter kigo taken from the winter sub-division Humanity: searching for plum blossoms (tanbai).

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 21st at noon (CEST). I will try to publish our new weekend meditation later on. For now ... have fun!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Carpe Diem #1453 dripping (spring-water) (shitatari)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful Kai. As you already have read I think I was very busy today with creating a few new posts. I hope you did like our new "chapter" of "Wandering Spirit" and I hope you can appreciate our new feature on renga. I had a lot of spare time today, so I had the opportunity to be working on our Kai.

This month we are exploring the beauty of the classical kigo (seasonwords) as used in Japanese poetry and especially in haiku and tanka. Today I have another kigo taken from the Saijiki division summer. This time I have chosen a kigo from the sub-division Earth: dripping (spring-water)(shitatari). Water is essential for life and with this kigo is sais that water is important in summer, as we all know of course. In this kigo "dripping" means that drops of water are falling.

dripping (spring-water) (shitatari)

I found a nice haiku in which this kigo is used:

shitatari ya futto kuuki o kamu roojin

water dripping over moss -
the old man bites
a bit of air  

© Ishida Yoshihiro (a contemporary of Basho)

And here is my attempt to create a haiku with this classical kigo for summer:

shitatari ruoto dake no natsuno arashino nochi

water dripping  
after the summer storm
the only sound

© Chèvrefeuille

I love these classical kigo, but to write in the classical way isn't really my "cup of tea" as you all know.
By the way here is the classical kigo of winter, also taken from the sub-division Earth, for our friends on the Southern Hemisphere: icicles (tsurara)

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CEST) and will remain open until June 20th at noon (CEST). I will try to publish our new episode, swimming (oyogi), later on. For now have fun!

Carpe Diem's Renga Challenge #1 a cherry tree blooming in old age

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I was writing our new episode of Wandering Spirit a nice idea came in my mind. So I created a new feature to challenge you with. I have titled this feature "Carpe Diem's Renga Challenge", and I think the goal is clear for this new feature. Yes ... that's right ... creating renga (a chained verse), but not the easy way I think. Let me give you an explanation for this new feature ... a real challenging feature I think.

In the new episode of Wandering Spirit you read a renga created by Basho and Yozakura. A nice renga I think, but maybe it's not as you had expected, but that's no problem. Yozakura and Basho created it straight from the heart and don't forget ... it was Yozakura's first try to create renga.

In this new feature "Renga Challenge" I love to challenge you all to create a renga of at least six (6) verses and with a maximum of 12 verses. Sounds easy ... well that's not true I think, because there is a rule. You have to create a renga by using haiku I will give you. It's your task to write the two lined verses (7-7 syllables approximately). With those two-lined verses you complete the renga. You may use the haiku in the order you like, so there is no need to use the order in which I will share them with you.

For this first "Renga Challenge" I have chosen six (6) haiku written by Basho and gtranslated by Jane Reichhold. So in a way you create a renga together with Basho.

For this first episode of this new feature I have chosen six (6) haiku written by the young Basho, so these are his first attempts to create haiku. All the haiku are taken from Jane Reichhold's "Basho, The Complete Haiku".

the old woman
a cherry tree blooming in old age
is something to remember

in summer rain
would you be happy with
the moon's face

the voice of reeds
sounds like the autumn wind
from another mouth

The Voice Of Reeds

inside the temple
visitors cannot know
cherries are blooming

what a sprout
a dewdrop seeps down the nodes

of generations of bamboo

separated by clouds
the wild goose lives apart for a while
from his friend

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold, "Basho, The Complete Haiku")

Six beautiful haiku by the master to use. Now it is up to you to choose the order, to choose at least three of the haiku and connect them trhough your two-lined verses. Remember that your last two lines of the renga are the ageku and have to close the chain as started in the first verse you have chosen.

I know this will not be an easy task, that's why I give you two weeks to create your renga together with Basho. Have fun!

This first episode of this new feature "Carpe Diem's Renga Challenge" is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 27th at noon (CEST). Good luck and awaken your muse to create a renga. (!! More about renga you can find above in the menu in CD Lecture 2 !!)

Wandering Spirit: faasuto iyaa wizu Basho (first year with Basho)

the story continues

After my first meeting with the master, with Basho, I was excited and proud to have a haiku written by him personally. I cherished that haiku and decided to calligraph it on white silk. As I had done that I bought a small wooden box and put the haiku on silk into it carefully.

Like a treasure
Hidden in the depth of the mountains
His haiku

© Yozakura

Several days later Basho invited me to his home. I was honored that he invited me.
“Yozakura”, he said. “I have a proposal for you”.
I nodded and my heart beat rose to unknown height.
“Your haiku are wonderful Yozakura, but they can become more sophisticated. I can teach you how. Do you want to be one of my students?”
“I would be honored master Basho. Yes, I love to become one of your students”, I answered.
Basho hugged me and gave me a kiss on my forehead.
“That that is settled. Welcome Yozakura. Please stay with me. Let us write a chained verse together. Do you want to write the first verse?”
I looked at him and stammered: “I would be honored, but I am just a beginning haiku poet. I don’t know if my haiku are worth to start a chained verse with”.
“Lesson One, dear Yozakura, every haiku is a real beauty. It has nothing to do with being a beginner or a professional. It has to do with the love of nature. Look at the pine-tree and see the pine-tree as Buddha. Your haiku are extraordinary wonderful Yozakura … don’t forget that!”
I bowed my head. “I will write the first verse master Basho”, I whispered.

dewdrops shimmer (image found on Pinterest)
At dawn
Birds sing their song
Dewdrops shimmer

© Yozakura

“Brilliant”, Basho said. “This is a nice haiku to start with. Now I have to write the second verse, but I need your help with it. In which season your haiku is written?”
I felt a little bit embarrassed as he asked me which season it was written in.
“I don’t really know. ‘Dawn’ can be used in every season as can ‘birds sing their song’, but I don’t know if ‘dewdrops’ can be used in every season. I think ‘dew’ is a kigo for spring or summer. So this haiku is a spring haiku, because all scenes noticed give me a spring feeling’, I answered. Basho smiled.
“Than it is a spring haiku Yozakura. Now to write the second verse. What do you want that this second verse tells us?”
“I would love to see, the beauty of flowers and young life”. Basho applauded.

Cherry blossoms bloom again
Shelter for young sparrows

© Basho

“That’s what I thought too master”, I laughed. “The beauty of cherry blossoms and the offspring of sparrows. Fragile beauty and the seemingly roughness of sparrows without colors as bright as the cherry blossoms”.
I became excited. I never had done a chained verse in the manner of Basho. “He is really a renga master”, I thought.
“Well … let us go on to the third verse. Read that verse again Yozakura, say it aloud, try to feel what it is painting. Become a part of the scene. Be a spectator that sees this scene”.
I, of course, did what he asked from me. How could I not do that. I was his apprentice so I just did what he asked. I said the second verse aloud … became a part of it. It felt like I was one with the scene. I was the young sparrow in the shelter of the cherry blossom.
“Now … I will make it a little bit more difficult for you my dear Yozakura. It’s your turn to write the next verse, but I love to see a moon theme in it. Do you think you can do that?”
“I think I can, but are you willing to give me some time? This way of writing chained is somewhat new to me”.
“Yes of course you can. Are you still staying at the home of your brother?”
“Than go home and take your time. A chained verse doesn’t see the light in one day”.

Later that day Kichirou and I had dinner and I told him about my first lesson. “Basho asked me to write the first verse of a chained verse. That was a honor and than he asked me for help with creating the second verse. It was really awesome to work with him. He is a very nice and attractive man, but he is also very wise”.
“Sounds like you have had a good time Yozakura”, Kichirou said.
“Yes it was a real nice day. How was your day?”
“My day was good too. I met a wonderful painter. He told me about haiga. That’s a kind of painting in which haiku are used. He gave me this”.

Willow Tree (woodblock print, by Kawase Hasui, inspired on Saigyo's renown waka)

Kichirou reached for a roll of rice paper and showed it to me. It was an awesome painting inspired on a waka by Saigyo about a willow tree. The willow tree was really beautifully painted and in the pond its reflection was magnificent. The waka calligraphed in a great way. I felt tears rolling from my cheeks.
“Who has painted this … it is … it is wonderful”, I stammered.
“His name is Takayuki and he is a young man, very talented as you can see. I have asked him to make a haiga inspired on that haiku you got from Basho. He will be visiting us tomorrow. As a former Wakashu I think you will appreciate him”.
I smiled. “Hoshina was the first man I fell in love with. There is no place in my heart for a new love my dear brother”.
After dinner we sat on the verandah enjoying each other’s company. Kichirou was reading a book and I was busy to create a new verse for the chained verse Basho and I started.
“Kichirou?” I asked.
“Yes my brother?”
“This is the chained verse we started today, but I have no idea how to bring the moon into the third verse. Maybe you can help me”.
“Please … read what you have already”, Kichirou answered.
At dawn
Birds sing their songs
Dewdrops shimmer;
That’s the first verse and this is the verse Basho created inspired on the first.
Cherry blossoms bloom again
Shelter for young sparrows;
And now I have to write the third verse, but in that verse I have to use “moon” as Basho asked me”.
“How do I do that?” Kichirou asked.
“By looking at that second verse and let your heart speak to you through the images you see”.
Kichirou nodded. “Let me hear that second verse again”.
I read it aloud a few times again and than I saw how Kichirou smiled.
“Do you have an idea my brother?”
“What do you think of this idea: fragile beauty makes the night mysterious in the moonlight”.
“Awesome Kichirou, but that last line. I don’t know. In your second line you use mysterious and than you use moonlight. I think that there is no need to use moonlight. What do you think of this line? The moon is female so I thought of this ‘she … is beautiful’. Than it makes the mystery bigger, more intense and I think that’s a nice contrast with fragile in the first line”.
I saw that Kichirou understood what I meant, but he wasn’t quite satisfied.
“Your third line is nice, but than you have used two times ‘beauty’, maybe you can change that third line into ‘she … the one I love’, because you love the moon.
I looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"Well ..."
I saw that he weighed his words. "Don't be afraid to say what you think my brother".
"You had a loving relation with Hoshina".
I nodded. "Yes you are right. I loved him very much. I am still missing him. I know they call male to male love "moonlove" ... so I think that third line you proposed is very nice and keeps the mystery.

Moon (woodblock by Gesso Yoshimoto) (found on Pinterest)

We were awake early after a good night's sleep. The sun was already above the horizon and the village was already alive. We sat on the porch and ate our breakfast in profound silence. My thoughts were at Basho's lesson of yesterday.
"I am looking forward to my next lesson of master Basho", I said.
Kichirou looked at me. "He must be special".
"Yes he is, my brother. In a way I feel like him. We even have a connection, a click, with each other. It feels like I know him for a long time instead of just a few weeks. I am excited how our renga will evolve ..."

After a warm cup of tea I took off and went to Basho. He embraced me and gave me a kiss on my forehead. "Good to see you again Yozakura. I am looking forward to create our renga together. I think we will do a half kasen-renga. That means only eighteen verses instead of thirty-six. Is that okay?"
"Yes i think so too. I love to create a complete kasen-renga, but it's not easy to create that as a starting poet. So ... yes let us create a half kasen-renga".
I had a wonderful day with master Basho. The sun was already downing as we finally had created our half kasen-renga.
"You did a great job Yozakura", Basho said.
I blushed and bowed my head. "Thank you master Basho", I whispered.
He looked at me and shook his smiling head.
"You really did great Yozakura. You are looking at a very proud master". He embraced me.
"It's time. The day runs towards its end. Go home Yozakura enjoy the renga we created".
He gave me small booklet we had created from our renga. He even had painted a wonderful scene on the cover. "It's my gift to you Yozakura. Do I see you again tomorrow?" I nodded.

Dew drops shimmer (image found on Pinterest)
After dinner I took the small booklet of our renga and I read it. It made me proud and I love to share the renga Basho and I created with the world. So here it is:

Dewdrops shimmer 

At dawn
Birds sing their song
Dewdrops shimmer

Cherry blossom blooms again
Shelter for young sparrows

The pale moon hangs
Still fresh against the sky
Trailing morning glories      (© Dolores)

A new day rises on my naked body
The sheet that covered me slipped away

Birds sing their song
Dewdrops shimmer like diamonds
Just an illusion

Her feet caress the fresh grass
The moist of the wet earth

In puddles of rain
Clouds are dancing

Cherry blossom petals sway on the wind
Their temporarily beauty gone

On this grave
Beneath the blooming wisteria
Her name

After the rain, clouds break open
The blue sky in all her beauty

Climbs towards heaven
Reaches for the sun

In front of the fireplace
Two souls become one in a glass of wine

Sparkling wine
Flames dance in her hand
He is granted a smile

After the heat this summer night
Honeysuckle perfume and coolness

Warm embrace
Skin to skin we lay down
On the beach

Seagulls cry against the wind
Waves splash in the light of dawn

Reaching for the sun
Swaying on the warm air
Swallows dance together

Dewdrops vaporise as a new day rises
Morning glories bloom for just a moment

"That's a very nice renga Yozakura", Kichirou laughed. "Can I read it again?" I saw how he enjyed the renga and his smile made me proud.

- to be continued -