Saturday, October 31, 2015

Carpe Diem #848 Frosted Grass

Her name is Esther; she is a war correspondent who has just returned from Iraq because of the imminent invasion of that country; she is thirty years old, married, without children. He is an unidentified male, between twenty-three and twenty-five years old, with dark, Mongolian features. The two were last seen in a café on the Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré.
The police were told that they had met before, although no one knew how often: Esther had always said that the man—who concealed his true identity behind the name Mikhail—was someone very important, although she had never explained whether he was important for her career as a journalist or for her as a woman.
The police began a formal investigation. Various theories were put forward—kidnapping, blackmail, a kidnapping that had ended in murder—none of which were beyond the bounds of possibility given that, in her search for information, her work brought her into frequent contact with people who had links with terrorist cells. They discovered that, in the weeks prior to her disappearance, regular sums of money had been withdrawn from her bank account: those in charge of the investigation felt that these could have been payments made for information. She had taken no change of clothes with her, but, oddly enough, her passport was nowhere to be found.
He is a stranger, very young, with no police record, with no clue as to his identity.
She is Esther, thirty years old, the winner of two international prizes for journalism, and married.
My wife.

(the above fragment is from the first chapter of The Zahir by Paulo Coelho)
Cover `The Zahir´

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new month of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai in which we will read The Zahir by Paulo Coelho, while traveling through the wonderful nature around the Altai Mountains. Above you have read a fragment from The Zahir a story of obsession and trying to become free ...
The Zahir is a wonderful novel and for sure worth reading and it fits our theme very good. As you maybe can remember back in 2014 we made a trip by train straight through the former USSR and we read Aleph also a novel by Paulo Coelho.
This month we will return to part of that journey, The Altai Mountains, for a lot of people in Central Asia very sacred, because of the appearance of a rock-carving, a stag beetle.

Today I love to start with a fragile prompt ... frosted grass. During the biggest part of the year the Altai Mountains are clothed in the image of winter. It can be very cold trhough the year and frosted grass is often seen even in the middle of summer.

Credits: frosted grass
early morning sunlight
frosted grass around the yurt
puffs of breath

© Chèvrefeuille

And another one also inspired on this first prompt of our new Carpe Diem month:

hoarfrost on the grass
melts in the early sunlight
life passes

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 3rd at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, Yaks, later on. For now .... have fun!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Carpe Diem #847 Kasuga Wakamiya Festival

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the last episode of our Third anniversary month. It was really a joy to make this month for you all and I really had a festive feeling this month. I thank you all for being part of our Carpe Diem Haiku Family and I hope to celebrate our fourth anniversary, October next year, with you all. I am looking forward to another nice year of wonderful themes and prompts.

Today I published our new prompt-list for November 2015. next month we will return to the Altia Mountains in the way of the shaman reading The Zahir by Paulo Coelho and visiting the Altai Mountains and its spiritual power.
Next Sunday I will have finally time to look at our "peace of mind" kukai and than I hope to publish the results and announce the winner and the runner up.

Okay ... back to our prompt for today. Today we are visiting the Kasuga Wakamiya Festival. Let me tell you a little bit more about this Japanese festival.

Credits: Kasuga Wakamiya Festival

This is an annual festival held in Wakamiya Shrine, branch of Kasuga Grand Shrine. It is said that Tadamichi Fujiwara, Kampaku (Chief Advisor of Emperor), started this festival to pray for bumper crops on Sept.17 in the 2nd year of Hoen (1136) in the late Heian era.

In the past, monk soldiers of the Kofuku-ji Temple participated in the festival. However, because of the policy of separation between Shintoism and Buddhism in the Meiji era, the festival changed into one for the whole Nara. The date changed to December 17. On the festival day, Divine Spirit of Wakamiya is transferred to a small place called Otabisho, near the approach to Kasuga Grand Shrine. In the daytime you can see a parade of people wearing clothes of entertainment and martial arts, and feudal lords as well. At night you can see dedicatory entertainments such as Shinto music and dancing (Kagura), court dance and music (Bugaku), ritual music and dancing (Dengaku) and Seinoo until the Divine Spirit gets back to the shrine. These entertainments are designated as important intangible folk cultural assets.

Credits: Kasuga Wakamiya Shrine
A nice festival to close this festive month with. I hope you all did like this month of celebrating our third anniversary and I really hope to celebrate our fourth anniversary next year.

three years of haiku
celebrated here and now
with laughter and tears

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 2nd at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, our first episode of November, frosted grass, later on. Have fun!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #179 Tom D'Evelyn "The Held Breath: Sound and Silence in a Haiku"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It makes me sad to this will be our last CD Special of our Third Anniversary month, but at the other hand ... maybe it is time to move on, go on ... discover new grounds, new ways, new paths, new people ...

Maybe you can remember that wonderful essay by Tom D'Evelyn earlier this month. You were all excited and enthusiastic about that essay and it confirmed my idea that Tom is a marvelous poet. Through his essay I became anxious to read more by him and so I ran into his website "Haiku Eschaton", really a wonderful website. As I visited his website I read a wonderful essay which he published on October 24th 2015 ... and I love to share that essay here. I hope Tom doesn't mind ... That essay is titled "The Held Breath: Sound and Silence in a Haiku". I hope you all do like this essay.

Tom D'Evelyn

The Held Breath: Sound and Silence in a Haiku

Posted on October 24, 2015 by Tom D'Evelyn on his own website Haiku Eschaton

Haiku is an art of silence, or at least of silences. The inner architecture turns on a gap, an empty space between dimensions; the meditative origins of the imagery suggest deep silences. And yet it is also an art of the senses, richly mixed to convey the complexity of the flesh of the ongoing world. Sounds pretentious as hell, yes? Maybe, but . . .

the whine of the leaf blower
the leaves the leaves keep falling

© Tom D’Evelyn

This haiku presents contrastive sounds and visual events. Somehow they cross in the haiku: the ongoing silence is somehow foregrounded with the removal of intrusive sounds. Finally, it is in the tension of these narratives that the moment subsists. The held breath.

The drift is toward silence. Perhaps we recall Shakespeare’s use of the ripeness — the overflowing significance — of silence in his tragedies.

More particularly: The whine of the leaf blower is one of the “signs” of Autumn; and what it lacks in articulateness it makes up for in intrusive mechanical whining. Once it is turned off, and the leaves all blown into corners where they will be gathered into big black plastic bags, the leaves keep falling, without fanfare and without surcease, as if in mockery of our efforts to tidy things up. And there is something morally as well as physically chilling perhaps about the relentless dropping of the leaves in Autumn.

A final note. Those of us who “follow Basho” are conscious of the unity of the heart and the centrality of compassion.

Autumn in my town (photo © Chèvrefeuille 2013)
To catch "The Held Breath" is not easy, but as I ran through my archive and my photos I ran into the above autumn photo and the following haiku. I think I caught that "The Held Breath" in that haiku.

in the morning light
trees look like a treasure chest -
autumn has come

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope this essay will inspire you as it did me.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 1st at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, 
Kasuga Wakamiya Festival, later on. For now ... have fun!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Carpe Diem #846 Chichibu Night Festival

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are running towards the end of our Third anniversary month in which we visited all wonderful Japanese Festivals and read wonderful haiku by our featured haiku poets, Michael Dylan Welch, Cor van den Heuvel and Tom D'Evelyn. This month wasn't easy to make, but I hope you all enjoyed it very much. I did enjoy the making of it ... that's for sure.

Today we have to attend another wonderful Japanese Festival, Chichibu Night Festival. Let me tell you something more about this festival.

The Chichibu Night Festival (Chichibu Yomatsuri) is the festival of Chichibu Shrine in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture, just 90 minutes from central Tokyo. It is held every year on December 2nd and 3rd, with the main action taking place on the 3rd. It has a history of more than 300 years.

Credits: Chichibu Shrine

The Chichibu Night Festival is considered one of Japan's top three festivals to feature floats, the others being Kyoto's Gion Matsuri and the Takayama Matsuri. Its floats are ornately decorated with lanterns, tapestries and gilded wood carvings and are accompanied by drum and flute music.
The festival's other attraction is its fireworks display, which lasts almost two and a half hours and gives you the rare opportunity to enjoy Japanese fireworks during winter. Additionally, the streets are lined with stands selling festival foods and amazake (sweet rice wine) to combat the cold December night.

The main events of the Chichibu Festival take place on December 3. In the afternoon and early evening, the six floats are displayed in their respective neighborhoods and at Chichibu Shrine, before they are being pulled through the streets of Chichibu towards the city hall from around 19:00.

The climax takes place on the plaza in front of the city hall, when one float after the other is pulled up the slope onto the plaza and they all line up. From 19:30 to 22:00 a long, spread out fireworks display is held, which can be seen from many places around town. (Hereafter you can watch a video about Chichibu Night Festival)

Awesome! What a wonderful festival. Very festive and rare, because it's not a common use to have fireworks in autumn. Fireworks in Japan are more for summer according to several sources.

colorful flowers
enlighten the autumn night
almost winter

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you all did like this episode and that it will inspire you to write an all new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 31st at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, our last CD Special of this anniversary month, later on. For now .... have fun!

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #16 (Shiki's) Shasei

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's Wednesday and so it is time for another episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques. This time I have chosen to tell you something more about shasei, a haiku writing technique created by Shiki (1867-1902), the haiku poet who brought haiku it's name and brought haiku into the 20th century.
The word "shasei" has not yet been invented at the time of Basho, but the idea was there according to what Basho tells his disciples:

[...] Matsuo Basho advises his disciples: “Learn from the Pine!”To do that you must leave behind you all subjective prejudice. Otherwise you will force your own self onto the object and can learn nothing from it. Your poem will well-up of its own accord when you and the object become one, when you dive deep enough into the object, to discover something of its hidden glimmer. [...]

Credits: Japanese stamp with image of Masaoka Shiki
On the background of this stamp you can read the following haiku by Shiki:

Come spring as of old.
When such revenues of rice.
Braced this castle town!

© Masaoka Shiki

It's a good example of this shasei technique. What is the shasei technique? Let me try to explain that to you all with the help of Jane Reichhold.

Though this technique is often given Shiki's term Shasei (sketch from life) or Shajitsu (reality), it has been in use since the beginning of poetry in the Orient. The poetic principle is "to depict the thing just as it is". The reason Shiki took it up as a poetical cause, and this made it famous,  was his own rebellion against the many other techniques used in haiku. Shiki was, by nature it seemed, against whatever was the status quo - a true rebel. If older poets had overused any idea or method, it was his personal goal to point this out and suggest something else. This was followed until someone else got tired of it and suggested something new. This seems to be the way poetry styles go in and out of fashion.
Thus, Shiki hated associations, contrasts, comparisons, wordplays, puns, and riddles - all the things we are cherishing here! He favored the quiet simplicity of just stating what he saw without anything else happening in the haiku. He found the greatest beauty in the common sight, simply reported exactly as it was seen, and ninety-nine percent of his haiku written in his style. Many people still feel he was right. There are some moments that are perhaps best said as simply as possible in his way. Yet, Shiki himself realized in 1893, after writing very many haiku in this style, that used too much, even his new idea could become lackluster. So the method is an answer, but never the complete answer of how to write a haiku.

An example of a shasei haiku by Jane Reichhold:

waves come into the cove
one at a time

© Jane Reichhold

In Basho's time shasei wasn't a known word, but this haiku shows what shasei means. Just the real scene caught in a haiku. An example of a shasei haiku by Basho:

ame no hi ya seken no aki o sakai-cho

a rainy day
the autumn world
of a border town

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

The play of words, something Shiki hated, comes with sakai ("boundary" or "border") and sakai-cho, the name of the theater district of old Tokyo. Because of its questionable reputation the district was placed at the edge of town. 

mist over the heath

I think this shasei is a nice Haiku Writing Technique and worth "playing" with. So here is a haiku by myself in which I have used shasei:

at sunrise
wandering over the hazy heath
the cry of an owl

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... the goal is clear for this CD-HWT episode I think "write a haiku in the shasei style" promoted by Shiki. Have fun!

This CD HWT episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 31st at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, 
Chichibu Night Festival , later on today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New episode of Haiku Writing Techniques delayed

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

During circumstances i wasn't able to publish our new episode on time. I will try to publish it tomorrow ... my excuses for this delay.


Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #178 Michael Dylan Welch's "first day of school"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy this is to create another CD Special with a wonderful haiku by Michael Dylan Welch. This episode I have chosen a nice, very recognizable, haiku by Michael.
Imagine ... your child goes to school for the very first time. Can you imagine that? I certainly can. I remember that my youngest son (now 24 yrs) went to school for the very first time. My wife and I brought him together until in his class room. He started playing immediately, but as we walked out of the classroom he cried. He really cried hard. My wife and I weren't strong enough to leave him at school so we took him with us and tried it again the next day. Again he cried ... finally after a few days we (my wife and I) could go away leaving him in the loving and caring hands of his teacher notwithstanding his crying.
I remember that it hurt us, but ... we had to "cut him loose" with pain in our hearts. At the end of his first day at school his teacher told us that he had cried for several minutes, but finally he started playing with the toys. My son had won his battle, the battle to be left alone at school. It was really an ordeal his first week at school, but he managed great.

Michael Dylan Welch

The haiku by Michael which I love to share this time in our CD Special is a haiku about that first day at school.

first day of school—
I eat my buckwheat pancakes
in silence

© Michael Dylan Welch

Well .... this haiku could be written as a short impression of the first day at school of my youngest son. I can imagine that my son did that too ... we never will know that for sure.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 29th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, a new CD Haiku Writing Techniques episode, later on.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Carpe Diem #845 Niihama Taiko Festival

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I promised you earlier that I would announce our kukai winner, but during lack of time I haven't had the possibility to look at all of your votes. My apologies for that inconvenience I hope to publish the results later this week.

Today I have a wonderful festival to share, at least in my opinion, because I am a big fan of the Taiko (a kind of Japanese drum). Today we will visit the Niihama Taiko Festival. Let me tell you a little bit more about this festival.

Each year, from October 16th to 18th, the city of Niihama in Ehime Prefecture holds the Niihama Taiko Matsuri (drum festival) to give thanks for an abundant autumn harvest. Forty-seven floats, called taiko-dai, are paraded through the five districts of Niihama in a festival dating back 300 years. During the three days of the festival, the streets of Niihama fill with over 350,000 visitors to watch this annual event. Each 17 foot high, 36 foot long taiko-dai is a 2.5-ton float. About 150 men bear each heavy taiko-dai on their shoulders through the streets of Niihama in a competition for the best carrying style. In the middle of each float is a large taiko drum that gives the float its name. The drum is beat rhythmically throughout the night to urge on the float bearers who are dressed in the uniforms of Edo era firemen. (The Edo era lasted from 1600 to 1868.) Each taiko-dai float is elaborately embroidered with expensive gold and silver thread with designs such as dragons, wild birds, famous buildings, or characters from legend. The design of each taiko-dai is chosen by the Niihama neighborhood that sponsored the float and construction can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many neighborhoods chose designs that adorn the float with dozens of paper lanterns. You can see a video clip of the Niihama festival at night with its thousands of glowing lanterns on the bouncing and spinning taiko-dai hereafter.

Wow ... what a wonderful festival don't you think so too. It's similar with e.g. Thanksgiving everywhere around the globe, but this Japanese Festival is really stunning.

I remembered a haiku which I wrote in spring 2014 as we were on a pilgrimage along the 88 temples on the island Shikoku. I love to share that haiku here again:

Japanese drums
resonate through the spring-night -
evil spirits flee

evil spirits flee
as prayers for compassion
resonate through the night

©  Chèvrefeuille

Or what do you think of this haiku written in November 2013:

Taiko drummers
in the midst of the night
chasing ghosts

chasing ghosts
with their strong drumming sound
Taiko drummers

© Chèvrefeuille

And this one which wrote recently:

parade of floats
under the blooming cherry trees
sound of Taiko drums

© Chèvrefeuille

the sound of taiko
makes me excited
what a joy

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and it will remain open until October 28th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, a new CD Special, later on. For now ... have fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Carpe Diem #844 Hiroshima Lantern festival

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai's third anniversary month. In this episode I will look at the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This attack was the end of the second world war, but ... now ... more than 70 years later its the one topic issue to which our thoughts go as we talk about Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The city's name, means "Wide Island" in Japanese. Hiroshima gained city status on April 1, 1889. On April 1, 1980, Hiroshima became a designated city. As of 2006, the city had an estimated population of 1,154,391. Kazumi Matsui has been the city's mayor since April 2011.

Hiroshima is best known as the first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped an atomic bomb on the city at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.

The city’s flower is the Oleander, because the Oleander was the first to bloom again after the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.

Credits: Oleander, the flower of Hiroshima
As a child I was afraid that someday such an atomic bomb would destroy the whole world. I saw the photos of the destruction of Hiroshima and that made me very anxious and tears streaming over my cheeks. Those photos had a huge impact on me ... maybe that was one of the reasons that I became a nurse and a haiku poet. Both things made me whom I am now.

Today we are invited to the Hiroshima Lantern festival it's part of the Hiroshima Peace memorial and it takes place every year on August 6th. 
August 6th is a significant day for anyone in Hiroshima. Although most businesses run as usual, school children are called into school for "peace education" and many locals and tourists gather in the central Peace Park to reflect on lives loss and hope for a peaceful future.

The Peace Memorial Ceremony starts at 8:15am each year in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb, which was dropped above Hiroshima at that time on August 6, 1945. At the start of the ceremony, the park's Peace Bell is rung and sirens sound across the city. Despite the park being completely packed with people, everyone stands perfectly still to observe a minute's silence, allowing you to really feel the power of this moment.

On this occasion, there are usually a few political speeches and testimony by those who lived through the event as well as those who lost loved ones. There are also short speeches by children growing up in Hiroshima about their hopes for a peaceful future. The ceremony also includes a release of 1,000 doves (after the Mayor's Speech) and the end of the ceremony is marked by a 450 member chorus and wind ensemble performing the "Hiroshima Peace Song".

In the evening, there is the lantern festival (our theme today) where over 10,000 lanterns are put into the water next to the A-bomb memorial and across the river from the steps in front of the information center. The evening activities are less formal, there are no long speeches, but it is a very powerful experience. As the light from the dome shines down on the water lit by the many colorful lanterns floating downstream. (Beneath you can watch a video about this event)

What to say more ... after this video I am speechless. let us hope and pray that the use of this kind of destruction will never occur again.

Maybe you know the meaning of the Crane. The Crane stands for thousand years or everlasting life. At the grounds of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the monuments are decorated with garlands of folded Cranes, it's a wonderful sight and it makes you humble ... all those Cranes folded through the hands of children  to remember those who died during the atomic bomb attack of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It's the story of strength ... the Japanese are very strong people and I think we all can learn from them.

silent remembrance
lanterns float towards the horizon
prayers rise

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 27th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our new episode, Niihama Taiko Festival, later on. For now ... have fun, but with respect to those lost in this atomic bombing.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #177 Cor van den Heuvel's "a tide pool", three favorite haiku.

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to bring another CD Special with my three favorite haiku by Cor van den Heuvel. He has written a lot of haiku and it's for sure not easy to choose from his oeuvre, but I succeeded to choose three favorite haiku of Cor van den Heuvel and I love to share them here with you. Of course these are just my favorite at this moment, because these haiku I ran into while preparing this awesome third anniversary month.

Here are the three favorites:

November evening
the wind from a passing truck
ripples a roadside puddle

Roadside puddle
the sun goes down
my shovel strikes a spark
from the dark earth

a tide pool
in a clam shell
the evening sunlight

© Cor van den Heuvel

Three wonderful haiku I think. I like them that much that I don't even dare to write an all new haiku inspired on these beauties, but ... well that's of course our goal with this CD Special. So I have tried it and I hope it did work as I had hoped.

I tried to write an all new haiku by using the first line of the second haiku "the sun goes down" and used the baransu style to compose this one:

the sun goes down
spots of light sparkle in the waterfall
a timeless gift

© Chèvrefeuille

Awesome! A beauty (how immodest).

For this CD Special I love to ask you to write an all new haiku inspired on your favorite haiku by Cor van den Heuvel. Of course you may use the haiku I gave here, but that's up to you. If you choose another favorite haiku by Cor van den Heuvel? Please share your thoughts with us why you have chosen that specific haiku. Have fun!

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Hiroshima Lantern Ceremony, later on.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Carpe Diem #843 Tokushima Awa Odori (Dance Festival)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Do you like this anniversary month? All those wonderful Japanese festivals are really a joy. It feels like we are part of those festivities and it feels like we are starting to become more one with the country that gave birth to our beloved haiku.
Today I have another wonderful Japanese Festival for you, Tokushima Awa Odori (Dance Festival), it is a festival full of traditional Japanese dances. Here is a You Tube video about Awa Odori:

Well ... did I say to much? Let me tell you a little bit more about this Awa Odori, this dance festival, which not only is celebrated in Tokushima, but everywhere in Japan, but also in other countries e.g Paris (France).

The Awa Dance Festival (Awa Odori) is held from 12 to 15 August as part of the Obon festival in Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku in Japan. Awa Odori is the largest dance festival in Japan, attracting over 1.3 million tourists every year.
Groups of choreographed dancers and musicians known as “ren” dance through the streets, typically accompanied by the shamisen lute, taiko drums, shinobue flute and the kane bell. Performers wear traditional obon dance costumes, and chant and sing as they parade through the Streets.
Awa is the old feudal administration name for Tokushima prefecture, and odori means dance.
The earliest origins of the dance style are found in the Japanese Buddhist priestly dances of Nembutsu-odori and hiji-odori of the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), and also in kumi-odori, a lively harvest dance that was known to last for several days.
Credits: Awa Odori
The Awa Odori festival grew out of the tradition of the Bon odori which is danced as part of the Obon "Festival of the Dead", a Japanese Buddhist celebration where the spirits of deceased ancestors are said to visit their living relatives for a few days of the year. The term "Awa Odori" was not used until the 20th century, but Obon festivities in Tokushima have been famous for their size, exuberance and anarchy since the 16th century.
Awa Odori's independent existence as a huge, city-wide dance party is popularly believed to have begun in 1586 when Lord Hachisuka Iemasa, the daimyo of Awa Province hosted a drunken celebration of the opening of Tokushima Castle. The locals, having consumed a great amount of sake, began to drunkenly weave and stumble back and forth. Others picked up commonly available musical instruments and began to play a simple, rhythmic song, to which the revelers invented lyrics.
There were (are) a few strict rules for this “dance event”:
1. The bon-odori may be danced for only three days.
2. Samurai are forbidden to attend the public celebration. They may dance on their own premises but must keep the gates shut. No quarrels, arguments or other misbehavior are allowed.
3. The dancing of bon-odori is prohibited in all temple grounds.
This suggests that by the 17th century, Awa’s bon-odori was a well-established as a major event, lasting well over three days — long enough to be a major disruption to the normal functioning of the city. It implies that samurai joined the festival alongside peasants and merchants, disgracing themselves with brawling and unseemly behavior. In 1674, it was “forbidden for dancers or spectators to carry swords (wooden or otherwise), daggers or poles”. In 1685 revelers were prohibited from dancing after midnight and dancers were not allowed to wear any head or face coverings, suggesting that there were some serious public order concerns.
In the Meiji Period (1868-1912) the festival died down as the Tokushima's indigo trade, which had financed the festival, collapsed due to imports of cheaper chemical dyes. The festival was revitalized at the start of the Showa Period (1926) when Tokushima Prefectural authorities first coined the name ‘Awa Odori’.
Credits: Awa Odori
During the daytime a restrained dance called Nagashi is performed, but at night the dancers switch to a frenzied dance called Zomeki. As suggested by the lyrics of the chant, spectators are often encouraged to join the dance.
Men and women dance in different styles. For the men’s dance: right foot and right arm forward, touch the ground with toes, then step with right foot crossing over left leg. This is then repeated with the left leg and arm. Whilst doing this, the hands draw triangles in the air with a flick of the wrists, starting at different points. Men dance in a low crouch with knees pointing outwards and arms held above the shoulders.
The women's dance uses the same basic steps, although the posture is quite different. The restrictive kimono allows only the smallest of steps forward but a crisp kick behind, and the hand gestures are more restrained and graceful, reaching up towards the sky. Women usually dance in tight formation, poised on the ends of their geta sandals.

Children and adolescents of both sexes usually dance the men's dance. In recent years, it has become more common to see adult women, especially those in their 20's, dancing the men's style of dance. 
Credits: Yakko Odori (gif)
Some of the larger ren (dance groups) also have a yakko odori, or kite dance. This usually involves one brightly dressed, acrobatic dancer, darting backwards and forwards, turning cartwheels and somersaults, with freestyle choreography. In some versions, other male dancers crouch down forming a sinuous line representing the string, and a man at the other end mimes controlling the kite.
Wow ... what a beautiful and festive festival this is ...

sailors loaded with sake
dancing through the Streets
Awa Odori is born

© Chèvrefeuille

it's a strange sight
sailors loaded with sake
dance like fools

© Chèvrefeuille

This wasn't an easy episode to write haiku about, but I like this festival a lot and I love to be part of such a festival once ... well keep on dreaming I would say to myself.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 25th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, a new CD Special, later on. For now ... have fun!

Carpe Diem #842 Tanabata Festival

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As you have seen I don't have enough time this week to be on time with publishing, but I hope to do better the upcoming days ... so please be patient, time will be back at my side soon.
Today I have a well known Japanese Festival for you all to attend, Tanabata, in our rich history we have seen this festival several times already, because of the wonderful haiku Basho has written about this festival.
Credits: Tanabata Festival (July 7th)
On the seventh day of the seventh month, now celebrated on July 7, is Tanabata ("Star Festival"). This is the night once a year when the crow herder, the star Altair, crosses the Milky Way on a bridge of magpie wings to meet the weaver-girl, Vega, for a night of celestial love making. On a summer night, considered by the Japanese as the beginning of autumn, in this hemisphere, these are the two brightest stars seen directly overhead. If it rains the lovers cannot meet. Traditionally, on this evening people gather for outdoor picnics. Children of all ages make  wishes by writing them on strips of paper to be tied on bamboo bushes. The word uchuten is a compound word made by Basho incorporating "rain in the middle of heaven" and "ecstasy."
The festival was introduced to Japan by the Empress Kōken in 755. It originated from "The Festival to Plead for Skills" (Kikkōden), an alternative name for Qixi, which was celebrated in China and also was adopted in the Kyoto Imperial Palace from the Heian period.
The festival gained widespread popularity amongst the general public by the early Edo period, when it became mixed with various Obon or Bon traditions (because Bon was held on 15th of the seventh month then), and developed into the modern Tanabata festival. Popular customs relating to the festival varied by region of the country, but generally, girls wished for better sewing and craftsmanship, and boys wished for better handwriting by writing wishes on strips of paper. At this time, the custom was to use dew left on taro leaves to create the ink used to write wishes. Incidentally, Bon is now held on 15 August on the solar calendar, close to its original date on the lunar calendar, making Tanabata and Bon separate events. 
Credits: Tanabata
Tanabata was inspired by the famous Chinese folklore story, "The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd". Some versions were included in the Man'yōshū, the oldest extant collection of Japanese poetry.The most popular version is as follows:
Orihime (Weaving Princess), daughter of the Tentei (Sky King, or the universe itself), wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa (Milky Way, lit. "heavenly river"). Her father loved the cloth that she wove and so she worked very hard every day to weave it. However, Orihime was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone. Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (Cow Herder Star) who lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and married shortly thereafter. However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tentei and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven. In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if she worked hard and finished her weaving. The first time they tried to meet, however, they found that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet.
What a gorgeous festival this must be according to Basho's haiku ... it was surely a wonderful festival full of love.
Tanabata no awanu kokoro ya uchuten
for the Star Festival
even when hearts cannot meet

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

do not even peer
through the leaves of the silk tree
light falls from the stars

tanabata -
autumn is truly here
as nights begin
© Basho (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)
Or this one, in which he (Basho) mentions lovers very strong:

sazo na hoshi   hijikimono ni wa   shika no kawa

surely star-lovers
using as a rug
a deer skin
© Basho

All great haiku inspired on Tanabata. It will not be easy to compose an all new haiku inspired on this Tanabata. Well ... here is my attempt to write a haiku inspired on Tanabata and the story about Orihime (Weaving Princess) and Hikoboshi (Cow Herder):

with tears in my eyes
I saw the blooming flowers
of the weeping cherry

© Chèvrefeuille
And now it is up to you my dear friends. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 25th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Tokushima Awa Odori, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #15 Metaphor

!! My excuses for being late with publishing this CD HWT episode !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Writing Techniques in which I try to explain several haiku writing techniques to improve your haiku writing skills. This week I have chosen the following HWT: Metaphor.

As you maybe know metaphor isn't allowed in haiku according to several sources. However metaphor can make your haiku stronger and more beautiful. It is widely known that for example Basho used this "haiku writing technique" several times. In one of his famous "crow-haiku".
Let us look at what Jane Reichhold tells us about this metaphor use in haiku in her "Writing and Enjoying Haiku".

[...] "I can just hear those of you who had some training in haiku, sucking in your breath in horror. There is that ironclad rule that one does not use metaphor in haiku. Posh. As you can see, Basho used it, and used it perfectly, in his most famous "crow haiku".

on a bare branch
a crow lands
autumn dusk

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

What he was saying, in other words, was that the way darkness comes down on an early autumn evening is the way it feels when a crow lands on a bare branch. I never truly understood this haiku until late one day, when I was leaning against the open door of my tiny writing hut. Lost in thought, I was so still that I excited my resident crow's curiosity, causing him to fly down suddenly to land about two feet from my cheek on a thin, nearly bare, pine branch. I felt the rush of darkness coming close, as close as an autumn evening and as close as a big black crow. The thud of his big feet hitting the bare branch caused the tiny ripple of anxiety one has when it gets dark so early in the autumn. In that moment I felt I knew what Basho had experienced. It is extremely hard to find a haiku good enough to place up against Basho's rightly famous one, so I'll pas on giving you an example of my haiku. But this is a valid technique and one that can bring you many lovely and interesting haiku. Haiku is poetry, and it does use another of poetry's oldest tools - the metaphor. Feel free to use metaphor in your haiku - just use it the way Japanese have taught us to do.

Credits: Crow on a bare branch

Let us take a closer look at this famous haiku by Basho:

kare eda ni karasu no tomarikeri aki no kure
on a bare branch
a crow has stopped
autumn dusk

© Basho (Tr. Stephen Wolfe)
In 1689, five years before his death, Basho wrote this final version of this seminal haiku, which, according to many literary critics, ushered in modern haiku replete with its subtle yet profound power. It represented a revolutionary change from the shallow, pun-ridden, clumsy haiku of the
Danrin School that held sway at the time. In the words of R. H. Blyth, this 'crow' haiku by Basho was
the watershed in "the setting up of his own, indeed, the creation of what we now call 'haiku.”
Basho's care in perfecting his crow haiku suggests that he was striving for a breakthrough nuanced innovation that he hoped would chart a new direction for haiku. Judging by the commentary of innumerable Japanese poets, scholars, and Zen practitioners who saw in this haiku a whole gamut of Japanese aesthetic principles and expression, Basho was successful.

Typical of the hyperbolic commentary engendered by this poem is the eminent haiku poet and scholar Miyamori Asataro's (1869-1952) conclusion that 'This is an epoch-making verse which took the first step in the movement elevating the haikai to serious, pure literature."4 Ota Mizuho (1876-1955), tanka poet and classical scholar, insisted that Basho "was trying to produce a model  verse for haikai of the future" and simultaneously sustaining "an aesthetic of 'loneliness' handed down from the medieval waka tradition."

Shimada Seiho (1882-1944), haiku poet and Waseda University professor, asserted that it was this crow haiku that illustrated a basic tenet of Basho's poetic direction which Basho described when he proclaimed: "Poetry of other schools is like colored painting. Poetry of my school should be written as if it were black-ink painting." In a similar manner, Handa Ryohei (1887-1945), tanka poet and Basho scholar, describes this haiku as a prime example of the Japanese aesthetic notion of shibumi, "the kind of poem which emerges when the subject is stripped of all its glitter and reduced to its bare skeleton." It is the above qualities that R. H. Blyth was responding to when he maintained that this haiku is a masterpiece because "The loneliness of autumn is thus intensified by the deathly immobility and colourlessness of the scene.” (source: "Toward Basho's Zen Poetics", article)

Credits: Crow on a bare branch

Basho's "crow haiku" has been discussed through the years and every scholar has his/her own ideas about this haiku so famous and so beautiful. It's Basho's merit that this discussion took place for several decades ... it proves that he (Basho) really was the haiku master of his time, but also of our time. I am proud that I see him as my teacher and that I, through his spirit, became what I am now.

As I look at this "gorgeous" haiku writing technique, notwithstanding the ideas of a lot of haiku scholars that metaphor is not done in haiku, I think metaphor can make haiku more stronger and more beautiful ... metaphor ... has to be part of our haiku writing skills ...

I have tried to write an all new haiku with metaphor as writing technique, but I couldn't came up with something. So I searched my archives and found a few examples of haiku in which I "tried" to use metaphor.

black on white
a flight of crows settles down
in an autumn field

© Chèvrefeuille

tired of spinning
the cat takes time for itself
and washes his face
© Chèvrefeuille

fly like an eagle
as free as a bird in the sky
living my dream
© Chèvrefeuille
I hope you did like this new episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques and that it will inspire you to step away from the idea that "using metaphor in haiku is not done", but to try it ... it will make your haiku more beautiful I think and with (maybe) an even deeper meaning. Have fun!

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 24th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Tanabata Festival, later on (as I said already in our last CD Special).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #176 Michael Dylan Welch's "one ..."

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome to a new CD Special by one of our featured haiku poets, Michael Dylan Welch, I have found another nice haiku composed by Michael. It's a haiku which I find very special, maybe that's because of the theme of this haiku, falling stars. I remember that my first haiku published ever was about falling stars or shooting stars:

midsummer night
thousand shooting stars
it’s raining silver

© Chèvrefeuille

Back then I wrote my haiku as Kristjaan Panneman, when I became more known, I chose to use the penname (as was the classic custom) Chèvrefeuille, which means "Honeysuckle".

I have written several haiku about "shooting stars" or "falling stars", so here is another one which I composed in February 2012:

a shower of stars
the little boy smiles
what do you wish for?

© Chèvrefeuille
Okay ... back to our featured haiku poet, Michael Dylan Welch's haiku, for this CD Special. It has all to do with the stars and that image above fits the haiku very well. As I read that haiku by Michael I just couldn't help that a verse from Genesis came in mind:
"Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them " (Genesis 15: 5)
Why this line from Genesis? Well ... I think you will understand that idea as you read the haiku by Michael.

one . . .
together we count
the falling stars

© Michael Dylan Welch
A beauty I think. I love to challenge you to use this haiku by Michael Dylan Welch to create a haibun with a maximum of 75 words (including the haiku).

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Tanabata Festival, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haibun with us all here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share your haiku.