Monday, January 19, 2015

Carpe Diem #651, Picking Young Greens (wakanatsumi)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As we are closing in to the end of January our New Year kigo will be more looking like Spring kigo as we have today Picking Young Greens (wakanatsumi) for prompt than we see that spring is coming closer. In this kigo with the "young greens" are meant the seven sacred herbs as we have seen in earlier posts here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. 
Today it's all about Jinjitsu (January 7th) on this date there is the Festival of Seven Herbs or Nanakusa no sekku on which the Japanese cook a special seven-herb rice porridge. 
The Festival of Seven Herbs or Nanakusa no sekku is the long-standing Japanese custom of eating seven-herb rice porridge (nanakusa-gayu) on January 7 (Jinjitsu).

Credits: Nanakusa-gayu
On the morning of January 7, or the night before, people place the nanakusa, rice scoop, and/or wooden pestle on the cutting board and, facing the good-luck direction, chant "Before the birds of the continent (China) fly to Japan, let's get nanakusa" while cutting the herbs into pieces. The chant may vary.

The seventh of the first month has been an important Japanese festival since ancient times. The custom of eating nanakusa-gayu on this day, to bring longevity and health, developed in Japan from a similar ancient Chinese custom, intended to ward off evil. Since there is little green at that time of the year, the young green herbs bring color to the table and eating them suits the spirit of the New Year.

This is the song mentioned above: 

tōdo no tori to,
nihon no tori to,
wataranu saki ni,
nanakusa nazuna,
te ni tsumi-ire te,
kōshitochō to naru

China-land's birds and
Japanese birds,
earlier than bring on their coming,
seven species wild herb,
I pluck them to the hand and
it becomes Neck, Turtle Beak, Dipper and Extended Net

By the way "Neck", "Turtle Beak", "Dipper" and "Extended Net" are all Chinese constellations.

I found a nice haiku written by Narayanan Raghunathan (co-founder of Wonder Haiku Worlds) with this prompt in it:

cool dawn -
an old Indian picking
young greens

© Narayanan Raghunathan

I found a nice Waka written by Emperor Koko Tennoo

It is for your sake
That I walk the fields in spring,
Gathering green herbs,
While my garment's hanging sleeves
Are speckled with falling snow.

© Emperor Koko Tennoo

Credits: Chickweed, one of the Seven Sacred Herbs
And I have found a nice trio of haiku written by Kobayashi Issa with wakanatsumi as theme:

kusa-tsumi no kobushi no mae no irihi kana

sun sinking
just beyond the fist
of the herb picker

kake-nabe mo asahi sasunari kore mo haru

dawn sun shining
even on my chipped pot --
this, too, New Year's

waga haru ya tadon hitotsu ni kona ichiha

my New Year's --
one ball of charcoal
a bunch of stunted greens

© Issa

And here is my attempt to write a haiku inspired on this prompt:

late at night
picking young greens in the kitchen garden -
the almost full moon

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... a nice post I think. This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 22nd at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, a new episode of our special feature on Haiku Writing Techniques, later on.

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