Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Carpe Diem #871 The Narrow Road continues: for a while; a summer mountain; even woodpeckers

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First this: As you all know our CDHK-family is a real family in which love and respect are great values. As your "patriarch" I am always busy to make CDHK better and this month I hope to create and publish our first e-zine "Souchou" (Japanese for Early Morning). Souchou will be published by Chèvrefeuille's Publications every season (as is traditional). The first edition of Souchou is a "try-out" edition, say number "zero", but I hope that it will become an e-zine which we will make with each other.
Second: Don't forget to submit your haiku (all new and never published with a max of three haiku) for our "Winter" kukai. You can submit haiku until December 23rd 10.00 PM (CET) by emailing them to our email-address: Don't forget to write "winter-kukai" in the subject-line.
Third: I have enough ideas for new prompts, but of course CDHK is made by us all and so please if you have ideas for prompts let me know.

We are on our way together with Basho and Sora on the Narrow Road into the Deep North. We have said farewell to our friends, family and neighbors and we are going on ... finding finally, at the end of the Narrow Road enlightenment.


Mount Kurokami was visible through the mist in the distance. It was brilliantly white with snow in spite of its name, which means black hair.

I cut my hair
at Mount Kurokamiyama
and change robes

© Sora (Tr. Gabi Greve)

Credits: Sora

My companion's real name is Kawai Sogoro, Sora being his pen name. He used to live in my neighborhood and help me with such chores as bringing water and firewood. He wanted to enjoy the views of Matsushima and Kisagata with me, and also to share with me the hardships of the wandering journey. So he took to the road after taking the tonsure on the very morning of our departure, putting on the black robe of an itinerant priest, and even changing his name to Sogo, which means Religiously Enlightened. His poem, therefore, is not intended as a mere description of Mount Kurokami. The last determination to persist in his purpose.

After climbing two hundred yards or so from the shrine, I came to a waterfall, which came pouring out of a hollow in the ridge and tumbled down into a dark green pool below in a huge leap of several hundred feet. The rocks of the waterfall were so carved out that we could see it from behind, though hidden ourselves in a craggy cave. Hence its nickname, See-from-behind.

for a while
secluded behind the waterfall
summer retreat begins

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Credits: Urami-no-Taki

A friend was living in the town of Kurobane in the province of Nasu. There was a wide expanse of grass-moor, and the town was on the other side of it. I decided to follow a shortcut which ran straight for miles and miles across the moor. I noticed a small village in the distance, but before I reached it, rain began to fall and darkness closed in. I put up at a solitary farmer's house for the night, and started again early next morning. As I was plodding though the grass, I noticed a horse grazing by the roadside and a farmer cutting grass with a sickle. I asked him to do me the favor of lending me his horse. The farmer hesitated for a while, but finally with a touch of sympathy in his face, he said to me, 'There are hundreds of cross-roads in the grass-moor. A stranger like you can easily go astray. This horse knows the way. You can send him back when he won't go any further.' So I mounted the horse and started off, when two small children came running after me. One of them was a girl named kasane, which means manifold. I thought her name was somewhat strange but exceptionally beautiful.

By and by I came to a small village. I therefore sent back the horse, with a small amount of money tied to the saddle.

I arrived safely at the town of Kurobane, and visited my friend, Joboji, who was then looking after the mansion of his lord in his absence. He was overjoyed to see me so unexpectedly, and we talked for days and nights together. His brother, Tosui, seized every opportunity to talk with me, accompanied me to his home and introduced me to his relatives and friends. One day we took a walk to the suburbs. We saw the ruins of an ancient dog shooting ground, and pushed further out into the grass-moor to see the tomb of Lady Tamamo and the famous Hachiman Shrine, upon whose god the brave archer, Yoichi, is said to have called for aid when he was challenged to shoot a single fan suspended over a boat drifting offshore. We came home after dark.

Komyoji Temple (a.k.a. Unganji Temple)

I was invited out to the Komyoji Temple, to visit the hall in which was enshrined the founder of the Shugen sect. He is said to have travelled all over the country in wooden clogs, preaching his doctrines.

a summer mountain
I pray to the wooden clogs
at departure

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

There was a Zen temple called Unganji in this province. The priest Buccho used to live in isolation in the mountains behind the temple. He once told me that he had written the following poem on the rock of his hermitage with the charcoal he had made from pine.

This grassy hermitage,
Hardly any more
Than five feet square,
I would gladly quit
But for the rain.

© Buccho (Tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa)

A group of young people accompanied me to the temple. They talked so cheerfully along the way that I reached it before I knew it. The temple was situated on the side of a mountain completely covered with dark cedars and pines. A narrow road trailed up the valley, between banks of dripping moss, leading us to the gate of the temple across a bridge. The air was still cold, though it was April.

I went behind the temple to see the remains of the priest Buccho's hermitage. It was a tiny hut propped against the base of a huge rock. I felt as if I was in the presence of the Priest Genmyo's cell or the Priest Houn's retreat. I hung on a wooden pillar of the cottage the following poem which I wrote impromptu.

even woodpeckers
do not damage this hut
a summer grove

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)


I realize that these episode(s) will be somewhat longer than I commonly do, but it's a joy to bring the whole "Narrow Road" here to become really part of it. I do understand that it will not be easy to write haiku inspired on these episodes, but that's the goal ... however there is no need to use the theme of the episode ... remember that these posts are just for inspiration ...

I was inspired enough to write a few haiku ....

walking this spiritual road
finding the light

© Chèvrefeuille

Logo CDHK special feature from the past

And I ran through my archives to find a few haiku I wrote in the years behind us, maybe you can remember that I had a special feature about 'The Narrow Road" at the beginning of CDHK and there I found the following haiku:

the sound of water
soothing - like meditating
behind the waterfall

searching wisdom
I pray to Mother Earth
before leaving

summer mountains
I bow for high wooden clogs -
Nightingale's song

on a journey
seeking for ancient knowledge
deep inside myself

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you enjoyed the read and I hope (of course) that it will inspire you to create/compose an all new haiku or tanka.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until December 5th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, across the field, later on.


  1. So much happening here - yes, long post, but fascinating. I find your new haiku really of clear, compelling quality. There are indeed a lot of emotions at the start of the journey here.

  2. An inspiring and lovely post and so much news and ideas about CDHK's future efforts ... sounds great! Bastet

  3. This sounds like a soulful journey that you are taking us on! Thank you!