Thursday, December 20, 2012

Carpe Diem #75, Early Plum Blossoms (soobai)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As you can see our today's prompt is 'Early Plum Blossoms (soobai)', this is a late winter kigo (or seasonword) and it's the start of our third part of this Carpe Diem month on classic Japanese kigo for winter, late winter. The coming days we have all 'late winter' kigo. Late winter in classical Japan starts around January 5th and ends around February 2nd, it's called 'Rushing about (shiwasu)'.

Early Plum Blossom

Let's look at some background on Early Plum Blossom as provided by: World Kigo Data Base the blogspot of Gabi Greve, a rich source for information on kigo.

Next to the Cherry blossom, the plum blossoms are loved by Japanese poets and where enjoyed even more than the cherry in the Heian peroid. They are a symbol of refinement, purity and nobility and also a reminder of past love. Ume, Prunus mume, is biologically of the apricot family.

The plum blossom, which is known as the meihua
, is one of the most beloved flowers in China and has been frequently depicted in Chinese art and poetry for centuries.
The plum blossom is seen as a symbol of winter and a harbinger of spring. The blossoms are so beloved because they are viewed as blooming most vibrantly amidst the winter snow, exuding an ethereal elegance, while their fragrance is noticed to still subtly pervade the air at even the coldest times of the year.
Therefore the plum blossom came to symbolize perseverance and hope, but also beauty, purity, and the transitoriness of life.
In Confucianism, the plum blossom stands for the principles and values of virtue. More recently, it has also been used as a metaphor to symbolize revolutionary struggle since the turn of the 20th century.
Because it blossoms in the cold winter, the plum blossom is regarded as one of the "Three Friends of Winter", along with pine, and bamboo.
Japanese tradition holds that the ume functions as a protective charm against evil, so the ume is traditionally planted in the northeast of the garden, the direction from which evil is believed to come.
The eating of the pickled fruit for breakfast is also supposed to stave off misfortune.


Plum blossoms come in different colors. So we have the White Plum, gives a feeling of winter, and the Red Plum, who's more giving a feeling of Spring through it's warm color. So we can say: 'when the plum blooms Spring is near and Winter has almost gone'.

A few examples of haiku written by Issa on Plum Blossoms:

kado shishi ya shishi ga kuchi kara ume no hana

lion puppet (*) at the gate -
from his mouth
plum blossoms

(*) a lion puppet play (shishima) is a popular 'New Year's entertainment

ume ga ka ni shoji hirakeba tsuki yo kana

plum blossom scent -
when I open my paper door
a bright moon

Aren't they wonderful!


OK ... let's go do some haiku composing myself on Early Plum Blossoms (soobai).

red plum blooming
while the last snow is melting -
finally Spring

the shivering cold
creeps into my old skeleton -
white plum blossoms

what a feast!
finally winter has gone
early plum blossoms

covered with snow
the fragile plum blossoms
longing for Spring

For closure:

scent of plum blossoms
mingles with the scent of the hearth
winter departure

This prompt will stay on 'till December 22th 11.59 AM (CET) (if the Earth has survived of course   (smiles) and I will post our new episode of Carpe Diem around 10.00 PM (CET) today. Than our new prompt is quilt (futon).

Have fun, be creative and inspired ... and share ... share your haiku with Carpe Diem.


  1. wow !! i looove your haiku :)
    beautiful and so close to the true sense of plum blossoms

  2. Thank Kristjaan for this nice idea on early plum blossoms. During winter I like to look at pictures of flowers. I'll enjoy the next prompt as well - quilt (futon), but I'll sleep it over on my futon. :-)

  3. Lovely prompt. I like how plum blossoms are fragrant. Did you know cherry blossoms are not? I didn't know that until recently.

  4. This is a gorgeous prompt l just love the idea that ....winter mingles with spring!

  5. Indeed a lovely prompt. I love the second by Issa and your last in particular.

  6. I am learning so much in Carpe Diem, thanks! And besides learning, enjoying all the wonderful haiku this growing community is creating day by day.
    Five beautiful haiku, Kristjaan, being the last pair my favorites.

  7. You make it all seem so easy Kristjaan, such a lovely set of EArly Plum Blossom haiku - thank you:)
    Today I found myself writing a haiku that led on from reading Tea with a Pirates wonderful I have posted that as one entry and my stand alone Early Plum Blossom haiku.

  8. Excellently written haiku ~ you obviously love the plum blossoms ~ And I did the Last Plum Blossom as opposed to the first ~ oops ~

    (A Creative Harbor ~ aka ~ ArtMuseDog and Carol ^_^)

  9. Lovely crafted 'plum' haiku ~ you obviously love the 'plum blossom' ~ Me ~ oops I did the Last plum blossom rather than the first ~

    (A Creative Harbor ~ aka ~ ArtMuseDog and Carol ^_^)

  10. Your gift for writing haiku is amazing...
    of your plum blossom haiku the one that strikes
    my heart and soul today is:

    "scent of plum blossoms
    mingles with the scent of the hearth
    winter departure"

    The thought of the second line...
    awesome to imagine actually happening
    it would be so healing I would think.

    Thank you... enjoyed this post a lot.

  11. Ahh i hate that im so late:(