Friday, February 17, 2017

Carpe Diem Namasté, The Spiritual Way #3 spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism

!! Namasté is open for responses for three days !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Carpe Diem Namasté, the spiritual way, the special feature in which we are exploring the spiritual way, the spiritual background, of haiku (and tanka). Today I love to tell you a little bit about the Zen Buddhism background of haiku.

We all know that haiku has roots in Zen-Buddhism. In Zen-Buddhism the only desire possible is to become enlightened ... does that mean that haiku poets may not have desires? I don't know ... but as I look deep inside myself, in my Higher Self, that pure energy which is our guardian in our life ... than as a haiku poet I have just one desire.
The only desire I have, not to become enlightened, but creating that one masterpiece in which I can read, see, feel and reveal the master, my master Basho, that's my only desire. I am aware of that desire and it's my lifelong goal to once create that masterpiece, maybe I have done that already, but I am not aware of it ...

Be aware of your desires ... don't feel ashamed when you discover your desires ... desires and being aware of them makes you human.

silent prayer
reaches for heaven
sunflowers bloom

© Chèvrefeuille

spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism

I discovered haiku in the late Eighties and I was caught immediately by its beauty. I fell in love with haiku, addicted to the beauty of nature, addicted to love. Haiku, however, wasn't my first love ... my first love was classical music especially the music by J.S.Bach. I played the organ and studied all the works of Bach. Through his music I learned to appreciate beauty.
Later I discovered painting and photographing. While I was busy learning to become a better painter and photographer I ran into haiku ... Haiku at that time gave me the opportunity to train my writing skills, to say more with less words.

What has "real love" to do with haiku? Let me tell you something about love in haiku.
As you all know tanka is more the poetry for love, but in my opinion, haiku is also about love. Love in haiku is universal and that means "haiku transcends everything even the love between people. Haiku is love and we can find that idea in the wonderful spiritual roots of haiku, Zen Buddhism.

Zen is love (real love) of the universe. Without this love, joy is uncertain, pain is inevitable, all is meaningless. Othello says:

[...] "When I love thee not, chaos is come again". [...]

The love must be complete, - not that it aims at the universe as a whole, but that the personality as a whole is to be concentrated on the thing; the thing is to be suffused with the personality. Then we have the state, described abstractly by Dr. Suzuki in the following words:

[...] "When an object is picked up, everything else, One and All, comes along with it, not in the way of suggestion, but all-inclusively, in the sense that the object is complete in itself". [...]

lotus flowers
rising from the depths of the pond
everlasting love

everlasting love
like a river flows onwards
uncertain of its goal

uncertain of its goal
rising from the depths of the pond
lotus flowers

© Chèvrefeuille

The relation of love to poetry may be easy to make out, but that to Zen is much more difficult. Look at it like this ... If we are without self-love, greediness, without desire of gain, of happiness, of life itself, all this energy must overflow somewhere. It overflows into all things, including oneself, so that now no actions are selfish or unselfish, good or bad, but are like the sunshine or the rain, but with mind instead of mindlessness. 
We say that we see the beauty of the fine drops of rain, the glittering of the leaves in the sun, the stars in their calm, - but what we really see is the mind of man, our own mind, in all these things. Through our activity and cooperation, these inanimate things acquire mind and affection. The waves drown the shipwrecked sailor regretfully, the sun scorches the weary traveler with remorse.

This kind of love, then, is not the means, the first step, but the end and aim and consummation of our pilgrimage here (on this world). It is expressed in quite other ways than altruism and self-denial. It is effortless and continuous, unconscious and nameless, but we feel it and know it ourselves and others as the health of the soul.

Love is the only energy capable to bring peace to the world. The love for the tiniest things in nature are making us the haiku poets we are. We are all lovers of nature and that love is rooted in the Zen Buddhism background of haiku.

shepherd’s purse
trembles in the summer breeze -
bees seek for honey

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... I hope you did like this new Namasté episode and I hope it will inspire you to create haiku and tanka in which we can find that spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism and our love for nature.


This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 10.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 20th at 10.00 PM (CET). Have fun. 

Carpe Diem #1157 Sakura, the national pride of Japan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to visit Japan in all its beauty. We have seen the beauty of Matshushima and the beauty of the diversity of Japanese art, but the most wonderful thing of Japan is their love for Cherry Blossoms. As you all (maybe) know I am a big fan of Cherry Blossoms and I write very often haiku (and tanka) about the Sakura in my backyard. Every year again I submit Cherry Blossom haiku for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival's "kukai". Sometimes I won and sometimes my haiku got no prizes at all, but that's nothing to be ashamed of, because there are a lot of haiku poets around the globe and ity is just fun to submit haiku for this Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.

through the branches
of blooming Sakura trees
I see Fuji

© Chèvrefeuille

Today I love to take you on a trip along the beauty of Cherry Blossom, not only through haiku and texts, but also with beautiful images of Japanese Cherry Trees.

Let me first tell you al little bit more about the national pride of Japan ... the Sakura.

They are swooned over during picnics. They are painstakingly painted. They are obsessed over in poems. They are cited as a symbol of the transient nature of life. And they are sprinkled on Starbucks lattes.

Welcome to Japan’s pink and modern world of cherry blossoms. It is impossible to think of springtime Japan without an iconic image of a sea of cherry trees awash with perfect pink blooms instantly coming to mind.
As well as leading the way in robotics, sushi and skyscraper technology, the Japanese have long been celebrated as global leaders in the art of cherry blossom appreciation. From as early as the eighth century, elite imperial courtiers paused to appreciate the delicate pink cherry blossoms known as sakura before indulging in picnics and poetry sessions beneath the blooms. Fast-forward more than a millennium and the flowers that launched a thousand haiku are no less revered in modern-day Japan.

The First Cherry Blossoms appear in Okinawa
Today, as spring approaches, the entire nation turns a shade of pink. Months before they arrive, retailers switch into sakura mode – cue supermarkets filled with plastic cherry blossom flowers and cherry blossom-flavored innovations in convenience stores. The countdown excitement is heightened further by the televised Cherry Blossom Forecast which offers a petal-by-petal analysis of the advance of the blooms – known as the cherry blossom front – as they sweep from the south to the north of the archipelago.
When the blooms actually arrive (as confirmed by teams of meticulous cherry blossom officials), it is time to indulge in one of the nation’s all-time favorite pastimes – hanami, which literally translates as “looking as flowers” and refers to flower appreciation picnics under the blooms.

Every year, a microcosm of society – from salary men and students to housewives and grannies – takes part in hanami picnics (some civilized, some rowdy) in every corner of the country.
The nation’s deep-rooted attachment to cherry blossoms goes far beyond buying a pink fizzy drink at 7-Eleven.
The flowers are deeply symbolic: their short-lived existence taps into a long-held appreciation of the beauty of the fleeting nature of life, as echoed across the nation’s cultural heritage, from tea ceremonies to wabi sabi ceramics. The blossoms also, quite literally, symbolize new beginnings, with April 1 being the first day of both the financial and academic year in Japan.

cherry blossoms
looking so fragile in the moonlight -
ah! the spring breeze

such sadness
the spring wind has molested
cherry blossoms

fading moonlight
caresses the fragile blossoms
finally spring

© Chèvrefeuille

In a nutshell? The cherry blossoms are not just pretty pink flowers: they are the floral embodiment of Japan’s most deep-rooted cultural and philosophical beliefs.

The nation prides itself on its devotion to the important task of forecasting the exact arrival of the first cherry blossoms. Since 1951, teams of meteorologists have been dispatched to monitor the advance of the cherry blossom front – sakura zensen in Japanese – as they burst into bloom across the country.
Officials traditionally observe the pale pink blooms of the yoshino cherry tree – Japan’s most common type – with the season declared open when at least five or six flowers have opened on a sample tree in any given area. 

The flowers only bloom for around a week before the so-called “sakura snow” effect starts and they float sadly off the trees.

The first blossoms generally appear in Okinawa in January and slowly move up the archipelago, passing through Japan’s central islands (including Kyoto and Tokyo) in late March and early April, before progressing further north and hitting Hokkaido in early May.

Cherry Blossom
Of course I cannot leave without a few haiku by the classical masters, for example this one by Issa:

Shinano's deep wooded mountains
even in Fifth Month...
cherry blossoms

© Issa

The part of Japan were Issa lived knows long winters and late springs, so sometimes the cherry blossoms started to bloom in June.

Or what do you think of this one by my master, Matsuo Basho:

how many, many things
they bring to mind — 
cherry blossoms!

© Basho (Tr. Robert Aitken)

[...] "Instilled in the Japanese mind is the association of the ephemerality of the cherry blossoms with the brevity of human life. Blooming for so short a time, and then casting loose in a shower of lovely petals in the early April wind, cherry blossoms symbolize an attitude of nonattachment much admired in Japanese culture." [...] (Source: A Zen Wave,Basho's Haiku & Zen  by Robert Aitken Published by Weatherhill, NY in 1996)

And another one by Buson:

these tired old legs -
is it for them that we stop, 
or the late cherry blossoms?

© Buson

Cherry Blossom Kyoto
And to end this episode with I have another nice haiku master who wrote about the cherry blossoms:

double cherry blossoms
flutter in the wind
one petal after another

© Shiki

And another one by a not so well known classical haiku poet, Onitsura:

the wild cherry:
stones also are singing their songs
in the valley stream

© Onitsura

Of course I can go on with this wonderful episode, but it must be fun to read and therefore I try to make the episodes not that big, but in this case ...

cherry blossom viewing
together with friends and family
celebrating spring

blossom haze -
walking in the middle
of falling petals

Ah! those cherries
have to let go their blossoms -
blossom haze

the cooing of pigeons
between blooming cherry trees -
the cool rain*

* written for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2012, I won a honorable mention.

© Chèvrefeuille
And to really conclude this episode I love to share a "twin-tanka" about Cherry Blossom:

cherry blossom petals fall
without sound
cherry blossom petals ride
on gusts of wind

on gusts of wind
cherry blossom petals, full circle,
the taste of cherries
helping me through the cold winter
Sakura blooms again

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... this episode became a little longer than I had thought, but I hope it will inspire you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form. Have fun!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 22nd at noon (CET).

Carpe Diem Extra - February 17th 2017 Survey Five Years of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I told you in one of the earlier posts this week I have created a survey to get some insight in what is happening on CDHK and to get an impression of my visitors, our warmhearted community of haiku poets.

This Survey you can find HERE

I appreciate your participation in this survey. It will help me to make Carpe Diem Haiku Kai even better than it already is ... and I hope to get some input from you my dear Haijin, visitors and travelers.


Chèvrefeuille, your host

PS. Question 9 is about the special features you can choose more than one answer. I had forgotten to tell that in this survey.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Carpe Diem #1156 Bonsai, the Japanese Tree-scaping Art

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I told you all earlier I have decided to create one episode of CDHK in every weekend, starting in March, because the lack of time gives me no other choice. I also will change a little in the appearance of CDHK. I am busy to create a new CDHK logo (as shown in the background) which I will use every month again, except in our anniversary month October. And I will cut back the special features, for example Universal Jane will be a bi-weekly feature. Our new feature Namasté will be a bi-weekly feature too, so these both special features will alternate. Than ... our CD Specials created after every kukai, will stay were they are and of course the Tokubetsudesu episode (for the "runner-up") will stay also.
Of course I will have the opportunity to treat you sometimes with one of our other special features here as for example "Imagination"  and "Only the First Line".
Next to these changes I am busy with creating a Five Years of CDHK survey to hear from you. Your opinions, your thoughts and ideas and most of all how do you think about CDHK and do I need to change CDHK.
To give you already something to thing about "I am looking for a way to make it easier for myself, the first thing I thought of was "only an episode of CDHK on weekdays and no longer in the weekend". What do you think of that?

Bonsai the Japanese Art of Tree-scaping
Earlier this week I told you that I would bring a few episodes about Japanese art forms, we have already seen Sumi-e, Ikebana and the Tea Ceremony and today I love to tell you all a little bit more about Bonsai, the Japanese Art of Tree-scaping.

A bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree of a species suitable for bonsai development. Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species that produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.

The source specimen is shaped to be relatively small and to meet the aesthetic standards of bonsai. When the candidate bonsai nears its planned final size it is planted in a display pot, usually one designed for bonsai display in one of a few accepted shapes and proportions. From that point forward, its growth is restricted by the pot environment. Throughout the year, the bonsai is shaped to limit growth, redistribute foliar vigor to areas requiring further development, and meet the artist's detailed design.

Bonsai (sumi-e painting) (found on Pinterest)

Bonsai aesthetics are the aesthetic goals characterizing the Japanese tradition of growing an artistically shaped miniature tree in a container. Many Japanese cultural characteristics, in particular the influence of Zen Buddhism and the expression of Wabi-sabi, inform the bonsai tradition in Japan. A number of other cultures around the globe have adopted the Japanese aesthetic approach to bonsai, and, while some variations have begun to appear, most hew closely to the rules and design philosophies of the Japanese tradition.

Over centuries of practice, the Japanese bonsai aesthetic has encoded some important techniques and design guidelines. These design rules can rarely be broken without reducing the impact of the bonsai specimen. One of these techniques, principles is the following:

No trace of the artist: The designer's touch must not be apparent to the viewer. If a branch is removed in shaping the tree, the scar will be concealed. Likewise, wiring should be removed or at least concealed when the bonsai is shown, and must leave no permanent marks on the branch or bark.

In this principle we can find ourselves I think, because isn't that one of the rules or principles of haiku? I think it isn't a great sin to find the poet back in his/her haiku, but in a way it makes the haiku less strong, less beautiful, but ... at the other hand ... haiku is written right from the heart and than we, the poets, are visible or invisible, in our haiku.
"No trace of the artist", is what makes Bonsai and Haiku a strong pair ...

Pine Tree Bonsai
As I saw this beautiful Pine Tree Bonsai I thought immediately at that wonderful place Basho visited while on the road to the Deep North, Matsushima and I ran through my archives to find some beauty to share here with you. I ran into a wonderful cascading haiku, which I have re-done into a "twin-tanka":

anxious to see
the twin pine of the stories
once told
a tale on pine trees
bonsai like

bonsai like
the islands of Matsushima
covered with pines
but the wondrous twin pine
stays invisible

© Chèvrefeuille

Well I hope you did like this episode. You can submit your haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form right now until February 21st at noon (CET).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Carpe Diem #1155 Sumi-e, the Japanese Way of Painting (2)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First this during lack of time I will not publish a new episode of Universal Jane this week, I hope to release a new episode next week. Because of this everlasting problem of time I have decided to create Universal Jane once in two weeks and I have a little change for the weekends. In the weekends I will publish only one episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai from now on. In other words I will have six (6) regular prompts a week instead of seven (7). I hope you are okay with that.

Today I love to tell you a little bit more about Sumi-e, the Japanese Way of Painting.

Ink wash painting, also known as literati painting is an East Asian type of brush painting of Chinese origin that uses black ink—the same as used in East Asian calligraphy, in various concentrations. Names used in the cultures concerned include: in Chinese shuǐ mò huà, in Japanese sumi-e or suibokuga , in Korean sumukhwa , and in Vietnamese tranh thủy mặc .
Textual evidence suggests that Shan shui style painting existed during China's Liu Song dynasty of the fifth century. Ink wash painting developed further during the Tang dynasty (618–907). The 8th-century poet/painter Wang Wei is generally credited as the painter who applied color to existing ink wash paintings. The art was further developed into a more polished style during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).

Asian aesthetic writing is generally consistent in stating the goal of ink and wash painting is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its spirit. To paint a horse, the ink wash painting artist must understand its temperament better than its muscles and bones. To paint a flower, there is no need to perfectly match its petals and colors, but it is essential to convey its liveliness and fragrance. East Asian ink wash painting may be regarded as a form of expressionistic art that captures the unseen.
Pine Trees (Sumi-e painting)
In landscape painting the scenes depicted are typically imaginary, or very loose adaptations of actual views. Mountain landscapes are by far the most common, often evoking particular areas traditionally famous for their beauty, from which the artist may have been very distant. Water is very often included.
"The painter ... put upon the paper the fewest possible lines and tones; just enough to cause form, texture and effect to be felt. Every brush-touch must be full-charged with meaning, and useless detail eliminated. Put together all the good points in such a method, and you have the qualities of the highest art".
Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922)
As I read the above again than I realize that sumi-e and haiku are almost similar with each other. Why? Well both art forms are representing an impression from a scene. Sumi-e  through the paintwash and haiku through the pencil of the poet. Both art forms make use of the moment as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water. Maybe we can say "sumi-e is haiku in paint" and "haiku is sumi-e in words".
I have tried to paint with words ...:
one summer day
poppies coloring the meadows -
raindrops start to fall
© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 20th at noon (CET).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Carpe Diem #1154 Sumi-e, the Japanese way of painting, Imagination introduction

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are still discovering the beauty of Japan and as I told you earlier this week I love to introduce a few Japanese ways of art and today I love to "trigger" you with an introductory episode on Sumi-e with a piece of fine Sumi-e to inspire you. Another Imagination I would say.

Sumi-e Landscape
Let this fine sumi-e piece inspire you to create haiku or tanka. Have fun!

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 19th at noon (CET). (By the way I will try to publish our new Universal Jane episode tomorrow).

Monday, February 13, 2017

Carpe Diem Only The First Line #25 the sound of rain

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Do you remember this special feature? Carpe Diem's "Only The First Line", was about a challenge in which I gave as the title says "only the first line" of a haiku or tanka to work with. So I love to do this again just for fun.

Here is the First Line to use:

"the sound of rain"

You can submit your haiku or tanka starting with "the sound of rain" until next Tuesday 10.00 PM (CET). Have fun!

Carpe Diem #1153 Raku, Japanese pottery

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Several episodes ago I told you a little bit more about the tea ceremony and I treated you on a haibun about the tea ceremony. I love to go back to that haibun for a while with this quote:

[...] "The tea ceremony is coming to an end. I admire the earthenware tea bowls." [...]

The tea bowls are wonderful pieces of art work and they are created with a beautiful and aesthetic manner of pottery. This pottery is called Raku. And I love to tell you a little bit more about this other wonderful Japanese art form, Japan is really a country in which art is very important and we will see several kinds of Japanese art work this week. Yesterday I started with Ikebana and today that will be Raku, the Japanese way of pottery.

Black Raku Tea Bowl, with Crane
Look at that beautiful tea bowl ... isn't it wonderful, so fragile, but strong, not perfect, but almost perfect as it was meant to be.

Raku ware (raku-yaki) is a type of Japanese pottery traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, most often in the form of chawan tea bowls. It is traditionally characterized by being hand-shaped rather than thrown; fairly porous vessels, which result from low firing temperatures; lead glazes; and the removal of pieces from the kiln while still glowing hot. In the traditional Japanese process, the fired raku piece is removed from the hot kiln and is allowed to cool in the open air.
Raku means "enjoyment", "comfort" or "ease" and is derived from Jurakudai, the name of a palace, in Kyoto, that was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598), who was the leading warrior statesman of the time.

In the 16th century, Sen Rikyū, the Japanese tea master, was involved with the construction of the Jurakudai and had a tile-maker, named Chōjirō, produce hand-moulded tea bowls for use in the wabi-styled tea ceremony that was Rikyū's ideal. The resulting tea bowls made by Chōjirō were initially referred to as "ima-yaki" ("contemporary ware") and were also distinguished as Juraku-yaki, from the red clay (Juraku) that they employed. Hideyoshi presented Jokei, Chōjirō's son, with a seal that bore the Chinese character for raku. Raku then became the name of the family that produced the wares. Both the name and the ceramic style have been passed down through the family (sometimes by adoption) to the present 15th generation (Kichizaemon). The name and the style of ware has become influential in both Japanese culture and literature.

Raku ware marked an important point in the historical development of Japanese ceramics, as it was the first ware to use a seal mark and the first to focus on close collaboration between potter and patron. Other famous Japanese clay artists of this period include Dōnyū (grandson of Chōjirō, also known as Nonkō; 1574–1656), Hon'ami Kōetsu (1556–1637) and Ogata Kenzan (1663–1743).

White Raku teabowl Fuji-san (Mount Fuji) by Honami Kōetsu
The above white tea bowl named Fuji-San is in my opinion the top perfection. I love these rough style non-glazed tea bowls to me this is the beauty and the aesthetic of Raku, but that's just my humble opinion.

I found a nice haiku by Basho which in a way directs to the tea ceremony:

A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering.

© Matsuo Basho (Tr. Robert Hass)

Is he referring to the tea ceremony created by Rykyu? I don't know, but it creates that scene in a very nice way.

Or this beauty inspired on a tea bowl written by Kikusha-Ni

in the tea bowl
this motion of the clouds
of 'little spring'

© Kikusha-Ni (Tagama Kikusha Zennshu (1753-1826)

Kikusha-Ni describes a tea bowl in this one and it looks fabulous.

A last one written by Yozakura, the Unknown haiku poet:

in this tea house
the smell of cherry blossoms
scooping hot water

© Yozakura


Tea Bowl (Raku art) image found on Pinterest
To close this episode about Raku I love to share a haiku from my archives. I wrote this back in 2014:

crystal clear water
ghostly curls of steam -
the perfume of tea

© Chèvrefeuille

And ... of course ... I have tried to create a new haiku also, more related to Raku:

this tea bowl
and cherry blossoms

© Chèvrefeuille

translucent tea cup
hides a deep secret
ghost of tea
geisha gathering tea leaves
for her lover’s ceremony

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... I hope I have inspired you today. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 18th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Carpe Diem #1152 Ikebana

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are on a journey through Japan we have and will visit several wonderful and beautiful places in this great country, the mother of haiku, but I love to discover also some real and awesome kinds of Arts of Japan.
Today I ran into a beautiful FB-group about Ikebana, the Japanese floral art, The World Ikebana Society In this group you can find wonderful pieces of Ikebana and inspired on one of these beauties I created the following haiku (by the way you can find that beautiful artwork of Ikebana here):

the day ends
blue changes in red and purple
a Nightingale's song

After looking at the photo of this Ikebana piece on my desktop I changed it into the following:

at sunrise
the deep purple of the night disappears
in dew drops

© Chèvrefeuille

I love to tell you a little bit more about Ikebana. So let's go ...

Ikebana ("arranging flowers") is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, also known as kadō (the "way of flowers"). The tradition dates back to the 7th century when floral offerings were made at altars. Later they were placed in the tokonoma alcove of a home. Ikebana reached its first zenith in the 16th century under the influence of Buddhist teamasters and has grown over the centuries, with over 1000 different schools in Japan and abroad. The most well-known schools are Ikenobo, Ohara-ryū, and Sōgetsu-ryū.

Ikebana -Yoshiko Nakamura (© photo: Jmabel)
(photo © Jmabel)

More than simply putting flowers in a container, Ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Contrary to the idea of a particolored or multicolored arrangement of blossoms, Ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and puts emphasis on shape, line, and form. Though Ikebana is an expression of creativity, certain rules govern its form. The artist's intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece's color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the implied meaning of the arrangement.

The spiritual aspect of Ikebana is considered very important to its practitioners. Some practitioners feel silence is needed while making Ikebana while others feel this is not necessary. It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives. One becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but also in general. Ikebana can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. This is also the time when one feels closeness to nature, which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul.

Recent historical research now indicates that the practice of tatebana ("standing flowers"), derived from a combination of belief systems including Buddhist and Shinto Yorishiro, is most likely the origin of the Japanese practice of Ikebana that we know today. During ancient times, offering flowers on the altar in honor of Buddha was part of worship. Ikebana evolved from the Buddhist practice of flower offerings combined with the Shinto Yorishiro belief of attracting kami by using evergreen materials. Together they form the basis for the original purely Japanese derivation of the practice of Ikebana.

Jiyuka (© Sorin Mazilu, as indicated on the photo)

Hundreds of schools and styles have developed throughout the centuries. The most notable and the original Ikebana school is:

Ikenobō, which goes back to the Heian period, is considered the oldest school. This school marks its beginnings from the construction of the Chōhō-ji in Kyoto, the second oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. It was built in 587 by Prince Shotoku, who had camped near a lake in what is now central Kyoto. During the night he dreamed that Nyoirin Kannon appeared to him saying, “With this amulet I have given you, I have protected many generations, but now I wish to remain in this place. You must build a six sided temple and enshrine me within this temple. Many people will come here and be healed.” So Prince Shotoku built the Chōhō-ji temple, now referred to as the Rokkakudo Temple (six sided) and enshrined Nyoirin Kannon within it. In subsequent years an official state emissary, Ono, brought the practice of placing Buddhist flowers on an altar from China, became a priest at the Chōhō-ji, and spent the rest of his days practicing flower arranging. The original priests of the temple lived by the side of a lake, for which the Japanese word is 'Ike', and the word 'Bō', meaning priest, connected by the possessive particle 'no' gives the meaning, 'priest of the lake', 'Ikenobō'. The name Ikenobō granted by the Emperor became attached to the priests there who specialized in altar arrangements. This school is the only one that does not have the ending -ryū in its name, as it is considered the original school. (Source: wikipedia)

Isn't it wonderful? All those beautiful aesthetic kinds of art in the mother land of Haiku. Haiku isn't the only art form as we will see in the upcoming days. I hope to create a few episodes in a row  about Japanese art work.

Classical Ikebana art work

For this episode I have tried to create an Ikebana tanka in which I have tried to bring the beauty and serenity of this art form together with the beauty of tanka.

New Year celebration
an Ikebana piece on the table
scaring the demons
bare willow branches
embrace cherry blossoms

© Chèvrefeuille

Unfortunately I couldn't find an Ikebana art work as described in this tanka, but I think you can imagine the sight of it.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 17th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode later on.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Carpe Diem Namasté the Spiritual Way #2 pilgrimage

!! For this special feature you have three days to respond, instead of five as the regular prompts !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Last week I started with Namasté, the spiritual way, a new feature here at CDHK in which I love to explore the spiritual side of haiku and tanka. As you all know one of the classical rules of haiku is that there has to be in some way a deeper meaning in haiku (and tanka). That deeper meaning is mostly based on Zen Buddhism, but in my opinion it's not necessary to bring that Zen Buddhism into your haiku, it can also be a Hindu meaning, a Christian or Muslim meaning, because I think that haiku has no boundaries towards religions and spiritual beliefs. In my opinion all religions and spiritual beliefs are One ... There are a lot of similarities between religions and spiritual beliefs and in my opinion we are all in a way part of God, Great Spirit, Higher Self or what ever name you give it.
Being part of God, made of "god-stuff" as I explained last week in the first episode of "Namasté", makes us one.

Last month we were on a pilgrimage to Santiago De Compostela, but that wasn't our first pilgrimage here. Back in 2014 we were on a pilgrimage straight through the former USSR with the Trans Siberian Rail Road and we went on a pilgrimage along the 88 temples on Shikoku Island, see also our regular episode of today, and I hope to do another (virtual) pilgrimage later this year.

This episode of "Namasté" is titled pilgrimage and I think that it fits the "Namasté" theme, because we saw what Namasté menas last week.
This week I love to go on an inner pilgrimage, I am not going to explain how our body works, we are not going to visit or intestines ...

Inner Pilgrimage
 The above image I have found on a wonderful website named "Creative Pilgrimage"  and I think that's what we are doing as haiku and tanka poets we are on a creative pilgrimage. We are on our way to our Inner Self, as the inside of a shell. We encounter a scene, a short moment as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water and that brings us to the final frontier ... the haiku or tanka to create.

Fredrick Franck, a philosopher, writer, painter and renown as "The Renaissance Man" and a fellow Dutchman, has once said:

[...] “That I speak here of art as a Way, gives away that I see the way of the artist as a kind of pilgrimage. When you go on a pilgrimage, you set out from where you happen to be and start walking toward a place of great sanctity in the hope of returning from it renewed, enriched and sanctified. However far you may walk, every pilgrimage is a safari into your own dark interior, an inner journey.” [...]

Franck said "The meaning of life is to see" with that he was the founder of what I love to call "the Inner Pilgrimage". His bestselling book about his ideas is titled "The Zen of Seeing".

To bring this idea back to haiku (and tanka). As I stated, and as the classical rules tell us, there has to be a spiritual meaning in your haiku (or tanka) and our haiku are based on what we see ... that tiny little moment that surprises us catches us and makes us emotional and devote ... the only thing we can do is bowing our head in silent adoration, admiration or how you love to call it.

The challenge for this week's episode of "Namasté" is to look around you with the eyes of Zen and try to catch the beauty of that moment ... 

in the puddle
the fragile beauty of clouds
a broken rose

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you did like this episode of "Namasté" and I hope that I have inspired you to create haiku or tanka ... Go with me on an Inner Pilgrimage ... explore the Zen of Seeing.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 14th 10.00 PM (CET)

Carpe Diem #1151 Shikoku Island

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First this: At the left side of our Kai you can find the link to the download of "Only Footprints" by Candy, the latest exclusive CDHK e-book. Candy has created a wonderful e-book and I hope, as the editor of it, that you all will like it as much as I liked creating it.

Maybe you have noticed it already, but I haven't published our new episode of our new special feature "Namasté", but that had to do with time. After our regular episode I will also publish our new "Namasté" episode.

We are on a journey "criss-cross" through Japan the native country of haiku and today I love to travel on to the island of Shikoku. Maybe you can remember our pilgrimage along the 88 temples on this island. The Shikoku pilgrimage is a once in a lifetime to do pilgrimage of Buddhist, as is the Hadj for the Muslim.

The Shikoku pilgrimage is originated by Kobo Daishi (also know as Kukai), the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, and it brings you along the 88 temples on Shikoku island. During some circumstances that take a bit of time from me I have taken the easy way today. I will reproduce the first episode of our Shikoku pilgrimage back in 2014 here again. I hope you don't "hate" me for that choice (smiles).

Sakura Temple on Shikoku Island

Shikoku is one of the four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) that make up Japan. The island is located between the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are four prefectures located there: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. Tokushima has close political, economic, and cultural ties to the Kansai region of Honshu, which includes cities like Osaka and Kyoto. In recent years, three bridges spanning the Seto Inland Sea have created land routes between Honshu and Shikoku. One connects Kobe to the city of Naruto in Tokushima via Awaji Island on the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway (the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge). The second route connects Okayama Prefecture's Hayashima with the city of Sakaide in Kagawa via the Seto-Chuo Expressway (the six Seto-Ohashi Bridges; this route also features a rail line). The third connects Hiroshima's Onomichi with the city of Imabari in Ehime via the Nishi-Seto Expressway (the three Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridges; this route is also accessible on foot or by bicycle). With the construction of these routes, travel between Honshu and Shikoku via expressway and railway (Seto-Ohashi Bridge) has become more convenient than ever before.

Iya Kazurabashi Bridge, Takushima Prefecture Shikoku
The Pacific side of the island, which consists of the portion located to the south of Shikoku's mountain range that runs east to west, sees more than its share of rain, but the climate of the entire island is relatively warm.
There are plenty of wild and natural spots, scenic and historic places, and traditional festivals.
Naoshima, where nature and contemporary art coexist, Mt. Ishizuchi, one of the highest peaks in West Japan and a popular destination for hikers, the Naruto whirlpools, one of the largest whirlpools in the world, the thatched traditional house known as Chiiori which is located in the Iya valley, known as one of the three most remote places in Japan and the place where the defeated Heike warriors took refuge at the end of the 12th century, the Shimanto River which is called Japan's last clear stream where local people enjoy river recreation., Kompira Shrine which is home to the god of the sea, Dogo Hot Spring which is one of Japan's oldest hot springs with several thousand years of history, Awa Odori summer festival which attracts 1.3 million people annually, Kochi prefecture's summer Yosakoi festival which attracts 1 million people, Kochi's outdoor Sunday Market which is one of Japan's largest, and many many other attractions are what make up Shikoku.

Kan Henro, tradiotnal pilgrim clothing for the Shikoku pilgrimage
mysterious Island
dedicated to the Path of Enlightenment
four countries as one

© Chèvrefeuille

Shikoku Island knows four prefectures and that's reflected in it's name that means "four countries". Back in 2014 I enjoyed this Shikoku pilgrimage very much and I hope you all have nice memories at it too. By the way if you would like to read those episodes again or for the first time? Scroll down in the menu at right side of our Kai and click on the year 2014, February and March. Than you can "re-do" that pilgrimage again or discover the beauty of that pilgrimage.

pilgrims chanting
the Heart Sutra to honor Kukai -
cry of a Vulture
breaks through the serene temple -
pilgrims chanting

© Chèvrefeuille

To enlighten the meaning of the above tanka I have a short explanation for you about this tanka.

Ryozenji Temple, the first temple of the Shikoku pilgrimage, is also known as "Vulture Peak" which refers to one of the sermons the Buddha once gave on a mountain with the same name. It was on that mountain that Buddha started with his religion and wrote the Heart-Sutra and e.g. the Lotus-Sutra.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 16th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode later on.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Carpe Diem #1150 Matsushima

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First my apologies for being late with posting. I hadn't time, because of very busy days at work and at home.

Today I love to guide you to one of the most famous and wonderful spots of Japan. Even Basho praised this spot for its beauty. Today we will visit Matsushima.

Matsushima is a bay in Miyagi prefecture - 25 km from the prefectural capital, Sendai - that is famous for its view of over 260 tiny pine-clad islands - "matsu-shima" meaning "pine islands." It is considered one of Japan's Three Great Sights (Nihon Sankei), and its beauty was immortalized in one of wandering haiku-master Basho's most famous poems.

In 1689, Haiku poet Matsuo Basho visited Matsushima on the trip recorded in Narrow Road to the Deep North. A well-known poem often attributed to Basho claims to record his reaction, signifying that nothing more could be said:
Matsushima ah!
A-ah, Matsushima, ah!
Matsushima, ah!
© Matsuo Basho
This very rural area, with a local population of less than 20,000, is also famous for the delicious oysters farmed in the bay, and for its colorful Obon lantern festival in August.

In Basho's "Oku no Hosomichi", "The Small Road Into The Deep North", he describes in a very detailed way how Matsushima looks.

[...] "Much praise has already been lavished on the wonders of the islands of Matsushima. Yet if further praise is possible, I would like to say that here is the most beautiful spot in the whole country of Japan, and that the beauty of these islands is not in the least inferior to the beauty of Lake Dotei or Lake Seiko in China. The islands are situated in a bay about three miles wide in every direction and open to the sea through a narrow mouth on the south-east side. Just as the River Sekko in China is made full at each swell of the tide, so is this bay filled with the brimming water of the ocean and the innumerable islands are scattered over it from one end to the other. Tall islands point to the sky and level ones prostrate themselves before the surges of water. Islands are piled above islands, and islands are joined to islands, so that they look exactly like parents caressing their children or walking with them arm in arm. The pines are of the freshest green and their branches are curved in exquisite lines, bent by the wind constantly blowing through them. Indeed, the beauty of the entire scene can only be compared to the most divinely endowed of feminine countenances, for who else could have created such beauty but the great god of nature himself? My pen strove in vain to equal this superb creation of divine artifice." [...] (Source: Oku No Hosomichi)

I found also a nice haiku by Sora, Basho's travel companion, about Matsushima:

at Matsushima
borrow your plumes from the crane
O nightingales!
© Sora (Tr. Donald Keene)
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February15th at noon (CET). I hope to be on time tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Carpe Diem 1149 Imagine Fuji Yama

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I haven't a lot of time at the moment so I have taken the easy way this time. I love to challenge you with a wonderful image for your inspiration. So you can say this is a Carpe Diem Imagination episode.

I have found a beautiful photo of Fuji Yama, the Holy Mountain of Japan and I hope it can inspire you to create haiku or tanka.

Fuji Yama (photo ©
To help you a little bit I have a few haiku by Issa and Basho:

little snail
inch by inch, climb
Mount Fuji!

a Mt. Fuji viewing spot
for barley harvesters -
nettle tree

© Issa

is one ridge
clouded with winter showers?
Fuji in snow

especially when
it comes into view -
Fuji in Fifth Month

© Basho

And of course I had to create one myself, so here it is ...

the snow capped peek
dives into the lake

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... this episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 13th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Carpe Diem #1148 Shinto

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at this new episode of Carpe Diem. Today I love to tell you a little bit more about Japan's most important religion ... Shinto. I don't know much about Shinto, but I know it's a religion of nature and the Emperor of Japan is the head of Shinto, he is a direct descendant of the Japanese Sungoddess Amaterasu and that gives him the title Head of Shinto, a kind of highpriest so to say.

To tell you a little bit more about Shinto I decided to surf the WWW and found a nice piece of information about Shinto (Source:


Shinto ("the way of the gods") is the indigenous faith of the Japanese people and as old as Japan itself. It remains Japan's major religion alongside Buddhism.


Shinto does not have a founder nor does it have sacred scriptures like the sutras or the Bible. Propaganda and preaching are not common either, because Shinto is deeply rooted in the Japanese people and traditions.

"Shinto gods" are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility. Humans become kami after they die and are revered by their families as ancestral kami. The kami of extraordinary people are even enshrined at some shrines. The Sun Goddess Amaterasu is considered Shinto's most important kami.

The Wedded Rocks, a very important kami for weddings in the Shinto tradition

In contrast to many monotheistic religions, there are no absolutes in Shinto. There is no absolute right and wrong, and nobody is perfect. Shinto is an optimistic faith, as humans are thought to be fundamentally good, and evil is believed to be caused by evil spirits. Consequently, the purpose of most Shinto rituals is to keep away evil spirits by purification, prayers and offerings to the kami.

Shinto shrines are the places of worship and the homes of kami. Most shrines celebrate festivals (matsuri) regularly in order to show the kami the outside world. Please read more on our special information pages about shrines and festivals.

Shinto priests perform Shinto rituals and often live on the shrine grounds. Men and women can become priests, and they are allowed to marry and have children. Priests are aided by younger women (miko) during rituals and shrine tasks. Miko wear white kimono, must be unmarried, and are often the priests' daughters.

Important features of Shinto art are shrine architecture and the cultivation and preservation of ancient art forms such as Noh theater, calligraphy and court music (gagaku), an ancient dance music that originated in the courts of Tang China (618 - 907).

Ise Shrine, the most important shrine of Shinto

Shinto History

The introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century was followed by a few initial conflicts, however, the two religions were soon able to co-exist and even complement each other. Many Buddhists viewed the kami as manifestations of Buddha.

In the Meiji Period, Shinto was made Japan's state religion. Shinto priests became state officials, important shrines receive governmental funding, Japan's creation myths were used to foster a national identity with the Emperor at its center, and efforts were made to separate and emancipate Shinto from Buddhism.

After World War II, Shinto and the state were separated.

Shinto Today

People seek support from Shinto by praying at a home altar or by visiting shrines. A whole range of talismans are available at shrines for traffic safety, good health, success in business, safe childbirth, good exam performance and more.

A large number of wedding ceremonies are held in Shinto style. Death, however, is considered a source of impurity, and is left to Buddhism to deal with. Consequently, there are virtually no Shinto cemeteries, and most funerals are held in Buddhist style.

I like this Japanese religion and I even think it's one of the spiritual layers of haiku and I hope to see that deeper layer back in your haiku or tanka inspired on this episode.

a pebble-stone
taken from the Wedded Rocks
a farewell gift
autumn has gone only one
thing remains a chestnut

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 13th at noon (CET). I hope to publish our next episode later on today.

Carpe Diem Universal Jane #11 renga "Old Jokes With Me"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Universal Jane, our special feature in honor and remembering Jane Reichhold who has meant a lot for our Haiku Kai.
Jane was not only a great haiku and tanka poetess, but she also was a renga master, she even created a renge together with her husband Werner and Matsuo Basho. I love to share that renga here with you all.

This renga is titled "Old Jokes With Me" and it is based on three and two lined renga pieces written by Basho. In this renga the links in bold are by Basho and the links in italic are by Jane and the links in the normal type are by Werner. This example of a renga I have extracted from Jane's "Bare Bones School of Renga" (available through download at Jane's Library here at CDHK). It wasn't very clear which links were written by whom, so I tried to reconstruct this. The only sure links were the ones by Basho. As I followed the "classical" way of renga than I could reconstruct it and I hope I did it right.

Renga ... also one of Jane's prides ... she was a renga master pur sang.


Matsuo Basho

Jane Reichhold

Werner Reichhold
1 hokku:
it’s so rotten
no other dogs enjoy
old jokes with me  
pass the wine
raise our spirits

always a link
up his sleeves
the brush wets

leather socks get dirty 
walking a muddy path

somebody’s missing
quick put the moon in
a puddle

shy eyes
far-out composing

spinning down
when does it get 
to the bottom?

so the villagers
laugh at me

sleeping outdoors
with friends
summer constellations

a hand drumming
pulsates with the sun

a wood thrush manifests
“as power-spirit I come” 
and cries and cries and cries

breath wind in mists
a trail through the maze

meadow walk
eventually hiding
a snake

greeting the traveler
a lamp on the floor

curving her breast
the early moon
very hot

impatient call:
“Where can we meet?”

sandals in petals
yet he’s so poor
his hat’s a sack

squint-eyed bag lady
famous in New Jersey

picture postcard
the come hither look
of the naked beauty

expanded body freedom
designed for partnership

cats in love
satisfied at dawn
he explains

“I’m collecting songs
for the Flax-Reaping Anthology.”

the hand ties with a string

college sonnets saved
in a hope chest

more than dreams
the real butterfly 
touches one

stem after it 
leaves erect

without friends 
he moves
to help himself

among that kind
the tall pilgrim stands out

relief comes 
first light 
on a cedar tip

to an incense stick
he also bows

worship service
begins as invocation
crickets chanting

it’s so hot it’s so hot 
the same voice at every gate

More about Soliloquy no Renga you can find HERE
wet lips

snow-clogged mountain pass 
so steep everyone sweats

the hiker hears
a wave of color

36 ageku:
sunset on a spring lake
pleasure brings home a poem

© Basho, Jane Reichhold and Werner Reichhold (summer 1990)

Isn't it awesome to read this renga ? Try to create your renga, a Soliloquy no Renga, inspired on the hokku of this renga

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 13th at noon (CET)