Saturday, January 10, 2015

Carpe Diem #645, Sacred Arrow (Hamayumi or Hama Yumi)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Wow! What a great comments you all have given me on the last few posts. You all make me blush ... and proud. It seems like you all are pushing me beyond my limits. You all are my inspiration to write and create wonderful posts and great haiku (or haiku series) ... And I thank you all for that. It makes me proud and humble that I may be your host (and patriarch of our Haiku Family) .... thank you all for the energy you all give me to make Carpe Diem Haiku Kai even better this year. I only hope that I can fulfill your demands ...

a little verse
brought together a family of love -
Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

© Chèvrefeuille
Today we are going further with our exploration of the classical kigo (seasonwords) for the fifth season, New Year. And today we have another wonderful (and sacred) prompt extracted from the Shinto religion, Sacred Arrow (Hamayumi).
As I was preparing this haiku the first thing I thought of was the Japanese art of archery and a "novel" written by (my idol) Paulo Coelho "The Way of the Bow" in which this sacred/spiritual art of archery is the main theme. Recently Paulo Coelha made it possible to download "The Way of the Bow" as a PDF-document and I love to share the first few pages with you all here ...

The Way of the Bow.

[...] 'Tetsuya.'
The boy looked at the stranger, startled.
'No one in this city has ever seen Tetsuya holding a bow,' he replied. 'Everyone here knows him as a carpenter.'
'Maybe he gave up, maybe he lost his courage, that doesn't matter to me,' insisted the stranger. 'But he cannot be considered to be the best archer in the country if he has abandoned his art. That's why I've been travelling all these days, in order to challenge him and put an end to a reputation he no longer deserves.'
The boy saw there was no point in arguing; it was best to take the man to the carpenter's shop so that he could see with his own eyes that he was mistaken. Tetsuya was in the workshop at the back of his house. He turned to see who had come in, but his smile froze when his eyes fell on the long bag that the stranger was carrying.
'It's exactly what you think it is,' said the new arrival. 'I did not come here to humiliate or to provoke the man who has become a legend. I would simply like to prove that, after all my years of practice, I have managed to reach perfection.'
Tetsuya made as if to resume his work: he was just putting the legs on a table.
'A man who served as an example for a whole generation cannot just disappear as you did,' the stranger went on. 'I followed your teachings, I tried to respect the way of the bow, and I deserve to have you watch me shoot. If you do this, I will go away and I will never tell anyone where to find the greatest of all masters.'
The stranger drew from his bag a long bow made from varnished bamboo, with the grip slightly below centre. He bowed to Tetsuya, went out into the garden and bowed again towards a particular place. Then he took out an arrow fletched with eagle feathers, stood with his legs firmly planted on the ground, so as to have a solid base for shooting, and with one hand brought the bow in front of his face, while with the other he positioned the arrow.
The boy watched with a mixture of glee and amazement. Tetsuya had now stopped working and was observing the stranger with some curiosity.
With the arrow fixed to the bow-string, the stranger raised the bow so that it was level with the middle of his chest. He lifted it above his head and, as he slowly lowered his hands again, began to draw the string back. By the time the arrow was level with his face, the bow was fully drawn. For a moment that seemed to last an eternity, archer and bow remained utterly still. The boy was looking at the place where the arrow was pointing, but could see nothing. Suddenly, the hand on the string opened, the hand was pushed backwards, the bow in the other hand described a graceful arc, and the arrow disappeared from view only to reappear in the distance.
'Go and fetch it,' said Tetsuya.
The boy returned with the arrow: it had pierced a cherry which he found on the ground, forty meters away. [...] Paulo Coelho, The Way of the Bow.

Is this the same 'arrow' as is meant in our prompt today? We will see. One thing is very clear about Hamayumi, it's a New Year's charm which brings good luck and prosperity. Here is the story of Hamayumi:

Credits: Hamayumi

[...] The Hama Yumi is a sacred bow used in 1103 C.E. in Japan. The Bow is said to be one of the oldest and most sacred Japanese weapons; the first Emperor Jimmu is always depicted carrying a bow. 
According to legend, at that time, the Imperial Palace was taken over by an evil demon, which caused the Emperor to fall ill with great anxiety and suffering. When the Imperial High Priests tried and failed in their efforts to destroy the demon and dispel the Imperial household of its influence, they were at a loss. Finally, an archer, Yorimasu Minamoto, was summoned to the Imperial Palace in the hopes of slaying the demon with his bow and arrow, ridding the palace of this plague. With a steady hand and a virtuous heart, Yorimasu Minamoto vanquished the demon with the first arrow, and his bow was declared to be a Hama Yumi; an "Evil-Destroying Bow", (and the first arrow a Hama Ya; a "Evil-Destroying Arrow").
Since then, Hama Yumi have been used in Buddhist and Shinto rituals of purification. (For example--Shihobarai--the Purification of the Four Directions). In Japan, it is universally believed that merely the twanging of the Bowstring will frighten ghosts and evil spirits from the house. A Miko will carry a Hama Yumi and a set of Hama Ya as part of their religious regalia, while back in Feudal Japan, they were used quite literally in defense of the temple. [...] (Wikipedia)

As you can read in the above section about Hama Yumi, it was used for purification and for example to purify the Four Directions (North, East, South, West). It seems like the Wiccan or Pagan ritual with the Sword in which the high priest of the coven opens a ritual (or gathering of the coven) by pointing towards the same Four Directions. Is it possible that Shinto and Wiccan/Pagan are the same? Yes that could be, because both are based on worshipping nature.

I found a few nice haiku with Hamayumi as the theme or kigo in it:

surechigau gaikokujin no te ni hamaya

in the hand
of a bypassing foreigner ...
a New Year's arrow

© Ikuko (Tr. Gabi Greve)

Or this one written by a haiku poet I don't know. I think this haiku-poet is a modern one, but I don't know that for sure:

hamaya uke Yamashiro no kuni ichi no miya

getting my New Year's arrow
at Yamashiro Province shrine
Ichi no Miya

© Gotoo Hinao 

Or another one written by Yosa Buson:

tegotae no kumo ni hana ari yumihajime

vague effect as shooting at clouds,
there seen cherry blossoms-
the first arrow of the year

© Yosa Buson

And to conclude this episode I love to share another haiku which I found of our unknown haiku poet Yozakura, which we met last summer:

shinnenno jinmu shinsei na yajirushishukufukuwohoji shi te iru futsuno yumishi masu

I bow for the Buddha
holding up the Sacred Arrow of Jimmu
blessings for the New Year

Aren't they wonderful? It will not be an easy task to write an all new haiku with this prompt, but I have to try of course (smiles) .... so here is my haiku inspired on "Sacred Arrow":

broken arrow
at the feet of the Great Buddha
no prosperity this year

© Chèvrefeuille

And a positive one ...:

leaning against the wall,
archery contest in the temple of Ise,
I catch the arrow

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you all did like this episode and I hope that it will inspire you all to write an all new haiku. For now ... just have fun!
This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 13th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, Card Games (Karuta), later on.

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