Saturday, December 5, 2015

Carpe Diem #873 Deeper into the North: men of this world; picking up rice seedlings; backpack and sword

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

While creating an all new episode I remember how Basho hoped to bring his idea of Karumi into the world ... being a traveling haiku poet or more specific a traveling renga-master. He was anxious to tell everyone about his idea of Lightness in haiku art ... maybe that's what I am trying too here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I feel connected with Basho and his love for haiku ... That's the reason why I started with CDHK bringing the wonderful art of haiku into the world ... and I hope that CDHK can bring people to the idea of trying (once in their lifetime) to write haiku.
I know that several of you were haiku poets before I started CDHK, but ... I have heard from several of you that CDHK has brought them more joy and insight in the wonderful art of haiku-ing. And now ... I take you all with me in the footsteps of Basho, the traveling poet, on the Narrow Road Into The Deep North. Today we will go on with our journey and we are walking further into the deep north.

just one leaf
struggles with the wind
like Basho

© Chèvrefeuille

A beautiful haiku in which I give words to my feeling of struggling, because it is not always easy to create new episodes for CDHK, not only by lack of time, but also by lack of inspiration. But ... how can I not publish these daily prompts ... I only would make you all sad and that's for sure not my intention.


I have to apologize for something. In our last “regular” episode I told you all that the chestnut haiku wasn’t included in “Narrow Road”, but I was mistaken. The “chestnut”-haiku which I thought was by Basho, wasn’t his. It was written by Sora, his travel companion. So my apologies for that mistake. Here is the “chestnut”-haiku which was included in “Narrow Road” and written by Basho:

men of this world
fail to find the flowers
chestnuts under the eaves

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Well ... let’s go on with our journey to the deep north.

Credits: Chestnut flowers by Vincent Van Gogh

Passing through the town of Hiwada, which was about five miles from the house of the Poet Tokyu, I came to the famous hills of Asaka. The hills were not very far from the highroad, and scattered with numerous pools. It was the season of a certain species of iris called katsumi. So I went to look for it. I went from pool to pool, asking every soul I met on the way where I could possibly find it, but strangely enough, no one had ever heard of it, and the sun went down before I caught even a glimpse of it. I cut across to the right at Nihonmatsu, saw the ancient cave of Kurozuka in a hurry, and put up for the night in Fukushima.

On the following morning I made my way to the village of Shinobu to look at the stone upon whose chequered face they used to dye a certain type of cloth called shinobu-zuri. I found the stone in the middle of a small village, half buried in the ground. According to the child who acted as a self-appointed guide, this stone was once on the top of a mountain, but the travelers who came to see it did so much harm to the crops that the farmers thought it a nuisance and thrust it down into the valley, where it rests now with its chequered face downward. I thought the story was not altogether unbelievable.

picking up rice seedlings
hands move as in days of old
ferns of remembrance

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Crossing the ferry of Moon Halo, I came to the post town of Rapid's Head. The ruined house of the brave warrior Sato was about a mile and a half from this post town towards the foot of the mountains on the left. I pushed my way towards the village of Iizuka, and found a hill called Maruyama in the open field of Sabano. This was the site of the warrior's house. I could not refrain from weeping, when I saw the remains of the front gate at the foot of the hill. There was a lonely temple in the vicinity, and tombs of the Sato family were still standing in the graveyard. I wept bitterly in front of the tombstones of the two young wives, remembering how they had dressed up their frail bodies in armor after the death of their husbands. In fact I felt as if I were in the presence of the Weeping Tombstone of China.

Credits: Japanese ferry (woodblock print)

I went into the temple to have a drink of tea. Among the treasures of the temple were the sword of Yoshitsune and the satchel which his faithful retainer, Benkei, had carried on his back.

backpack and sword
decorated in May
with paper fish banners

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Note: This haiku refers to “Boys’ Day”, which is celebrated on the 5th of May.

I stopped overnight at Iizuka. I had a bath in a hot spring before I took shelter at an inn. It was a filthy place with rough straw mats spread out on an earth floor. They had to prepare my bed by the dim light of the fire, for there was not even a lamp in the whole house. A storm came upon us towards midnight, and between the noise of the thunder and leaking rain and the raids of mosquitoes and fleas, I could not get a wink of sleep. Furthermore, an attack of my old complaint made me so ill that I suffered severely from repeated attacks while I rode on horseback bound for the town of Kori. It was indeed a terrible thing to be so ill on the road, when there still remained thousands of miles before me, but thinking that if I were to die on my way to the extreme north it would only be the fulfillment of providence, I trod the earth as firmly as possible and arrived at the barrier-gate of Okido in the province of Date.

Credits: Hot Springs


With this episode we are a little bit closer to the mysterious deep north of the Japanese Southern Island Honshu and in the upcoming days we will discover more beauty as we are going further into the deep north.

following the trail
on a journey through the world
to find ourselves

© Chèvrefeuille

a soothing breeze
cicadas sing their song
sound of water

© Chèvrefeuille

And now it is up to you to try to compose an all new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form in the spirit of Basho.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until December 8th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, 
Rainhat Island; since the cherry blossoms, later on. And our journey will continue. For now ... be inspired and share your haiku with us all.


  1. You spoil us so! Not only with your moving poetry but also by making Basho's journey so accessible to us.
    Don't let us tax you too much with these efforts.

  2. I agree, Joanna -- I can't help denying that we were anything close to haiku poets before joining CDHK though....our journey has taken us so far...

  3. You're bringing this voyage alive, we can touch and live with Basho on his wonderful trip to the deep north, inspiring! Many thanks, Namaste. Bastet

  4. God bless you for guiding and inspiring us on our haiku journey! I have told you that I am learning so much and even more importantly, this practice has deepened my spiritual practice! However I must echo the others and say, please take care of yourself!

    1. Thank you for you concerns about my well being, but I am "addicted" to Carpe Diem Haiku Kai because I love this wonderful poetry form.
      I am happy to hear that your spiritual practice deepens through our Haiku Kai. That makes me proud, but at the other hand also very humble and grateful that I may do this ... thank you.


  5. I haven't been around for a while. And the primary reason is lack of time.
    That is why I am awed by (and very appreciative of) your daily prompts.
    They do inspire me to write, but they are very informative too.
    Thanks always...