Saturday, April 27, 2013

Carpe Diem's Kamishibai

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I love to introduce a new feature on Carpe Diem, the place to be if you like writing and sharing haiku, it came in mind when I was preparing our 181th episode 'Storyteller'. In that episode I asked you all to write a haibun and I shared one myself.
In this new feature, which I named Kamishibai, I will give a theme, a quote, painting or something else on which you can write a haibun. Maybe I have to explain what a haibun is, but first I will explain Kamishibai.

Kamishibai (紙芝居), literally "paper drama", is a form of storytelling that originated in Japanese Buddhist temples in the 12th century, where monks used emakimono (picture scrolls) to convey stories with moral lessons to a mostly illiterate audience.
Kamishibai endured as a storytelling method for centuries, but is perhaps best known for its revival in the 1920s through the 1950s. The gaito kamishibaiya, or kamishibai storyteller, rode from village to village on a bicycle equipped with a small stage. On arrival, the storyteller used two wooden clappers, called hyoshigi, to announce his arrival. Children who bought candy from the storyteller got the best seats in front of the stage. Once an audience assembled, the storyteller told several stories using a set of illustrated boards, inserted into the stage and withdrawn one by one as the story was told. The stories were often serials and new episodes were told on each visit to the village.

Kamishibai performer

Haibun  is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal.
The term "haibun" was first used by the 17th century Japanese poet, Matsuo Bashō, in a letter to his disciple Kyorai in 1690. Bashō was a prominent early writer of haibun, then a new genre combining classical prototypes, Chinese prose genres and vernacular subject matter and language. He wrote some haibun as travel accounts during his various journeys, the most famous of which is 'Oku no Hosomichi' (Narrow Road to the Deep North). Bashō's shorter haibun include compositions devoted to travel and others focusing on character sketches, landscape scenes, anecdotal vignettes and occasional writings written to honor a specific patron or event. His 'Hut of the Phantom Dwelling' can be classified as an essay while, in 'Saga Nikki' (Saga Diary), he documents his day-to-day activities with his disciples on a summer retreat.
Traditional haibun typically took the form of a short description of a place, person or object, or a diary of a journey or other series of events in the poet's life. Haibun continued to be written by later haikai poets such as Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa and  Masaoka Shiki
A haibun may record a scene, or a special moment, in a highly descriptive and objective manner or may occupy a wholly fictional or dream-like space. The accompanying haiku may have a direct or subtle relationship with the prose and encompass or hint at the gist of what is recorded in the prose sections.
Generally, a haibun consists of one or more paragraphs of prose written in a concise, imagistic haikai style, and one or more haiku.

A fragment from 'Oku No Hosomichi', 'the narrow road to the deep north', a
haibun written by Matsuo Basho.

I will give an example of a haibun. This haibun I published on my haibun-weblog. It's just a short haibun, but it's showing what a haibun is or can be.

The Hot Summer of 1998, a haibun

Somewhere in the hot Summer of 1998 it was I  thought, but it easily could be in another hot Summer. I was on a holiday with my family in Benidorm (Spain).
My wife and I were walking along the beach late on an evening. It was still warm and we were very much in love. We walked hand in hand, sometimes stood still to kiss eachother. Somewhere along the beach there was a group of palmtrees with a nice little bench. We sat down and watch to the sea and Isla de Benidorm.
It was told that once a giant had broke a piece of the mountains in the backland of Benidorm and had thrown it into the sea. I wonder ...
Isle of Benidorm

In the backlands of Benidorm I saw a mountain with a gap that looks very similar with the Isla de Benidorm. In front of my eyes I saw the giant brake of the big piece of the mountain and threw it into the sea. What a sight. That big piece of rock made the sea rise and a Tsunami rolled towards the seashore breaking on the beach. The foam swirlled every where.
A little smile on my face made my wife laugh. 'What are you thinking of?' she asked. I shook my head. 'Nothing my dear'. I answered. 'Nothing'. Hand in hand we walked back to our appartement and drank a little wine ... afterwards ... well ... it's up to you to fill in this gap. (smiles)

thrown into the sea
a pebble bounches a few times
I feel a giant
Puig Compana (do you see the gap?)

Writing haibun is fun and it's really a joy to let flow your ideas in haibun. Using more words than you do as you are writing haiku.
You can share your haibun for this episode of Carpe Diem's Kamishibai 'til May 5th 11.59 AM.


  1. Very nice post and idea Kristjaan.

  2. I like this challenge of writing a haibun.
    I missed the haibun challenge in the "story teller" prompt, but will try to create one here.

    Except that it's taking me a long time. It's quite a shift in writing gears for me.

    1. Good day Lolly, haibun isn't an easy form of literature to write. But it's a challenge as you said yourself. Haibun is a great way to learn associating on prose through composing haiku. Have fun. It dont has to be a long story, can also be a short one, but there is always a haiku which was inspired on the haibun.

  3. I like this idea, and my haibun was written on the prompt of awakening. When writing haibun I always take a poetic approach to the prose. The haiku come very natural then. But I read so many great examples. And imagine that the theme in dVerse was trip... which is perfect for haibun.