Saturday, April 30, 2016

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge month May 1st (1) 'old pond'

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First this: Our "New Life" - kukai is running towards it end. If you would like to participate in this kukai you can email a maximum of three (never published earlier) haiku to our Kai's email-address:

Please write "new life" kukai in the subject line. You can submit your haiku for the kukai until May 1st 10.00 PM (CET)

Welcome at a new month at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. This month it's all Tan Renga, a short linked chain poem created by two poets. Tan Renga looks very similar with tanka it has 5 lines with approx. 5-7-5-7-7 syllables per line. There is only a slight difference. Tan Renga is written by two poets. One poet writes the first stanza of 3 lines, the hokku or haiku. And the other poet writes the second stanza of 2 lines through associating on the scene of the first stanza. A Tanka is written by one poet.

How will this month go? I will post our first stanza of the Tan Renga on our twitter account one day earlier then the actual post on our Haiku Kai.

To start this Tan Renga Challenge month I have chosen for that world famous haiku by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) 'frog pond'.

old pond
frog jumps in
sound of water

© Basho (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

By associating on the scene you have to create / write the 2nd (two lined) stanza to complete the Tan Renga. Please insert the first stanza into your post with your 2nd stanza. Have fun!

old pond
frog jumps in
sound of water

I throw a pebble
old pond resonates

This episode 'old pond' is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 5th at noon (CET). I will tweet and post our new first stanza and episode later on.

PS. I had a major computer crash so I have to restart editing the CDHK e-book "Color Your Life". It will take some time ... sorry !!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Carpe Diem #966 passing of spring

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Here it is our last episode of April. This month was about haiga and I have seen wonderful haiga and I am glad that you all did like this month. It was a joy to see that there were new participants and that other participants returned. Thank you all for making this month and Carpe Diem Haiku Kai a success.

Today our prompt is passing of spring and it is based on Jane Reichhold's saijiki "A Dictionary of Haiku". I love to thank Jane for giving permission to use her work. Thank you Jane.
Jane's saijiki is really awesome and a great source for prompts passing of spring Jane explains with an example of her beautiful haiku:

passing of spring
water trickles over rock
into the koi pond

© Jane Reichhold

Departing spring ... all trees and bushes green. The warmth of the sun, finally time for the beach ... a joy it's summer.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 4th at noon (CET). I will publish our first episode of May, in which we will have all Tan Renga, later on. I don't have the promptlist ready ... I hope to publish it tomorrow.

Carpe Diem #965 puddles

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This Haiga-month is almost over counting this one then we have only two episodes of haiga. I am still in the nightshift and this will not be a very long episode.

For today our modern kigo to create a haiga about is puddles. Well ... this prompt don't needs explanation ... we are all familiar with puddles ... so let me give a few examples of haiku written on puddles by Jane Reichhold:

floating clouds
down from the mountain
a puddle of rain

rain drops
in a puddle crowns
of light jewels
© Jane Reichhold

Awesome isn't it? This photo brings a lot of memories back. Didn't we all do that when we were children? Jumping in puddles until we were soaked? I even recall that I did that a few years ago while I was playing outside with my grandchildren. The oldest asked: "Granddad! May we jump in the puddles?" Of course I couldn't resist that question and I granted them permission to jump in the puddles. It was a joy and they were soaked 'til the bone. My youngest grandson asked me several minutes later if I would jump in the puddles with them. After some hesitation I laughed and jumped in the puddles myself with my grandsons ... 'til we were all soaked 'til the bone. It was fun and as we came home ... well we laughed again and drank hot chocolate-milk. What a joy ... to feel a kid again. Surely worth trying (smiles) to do the same as I did with my grandsons. 

feeling a kid again
jumping in the puddles of spring -
soaked 'til the bone

© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 4th at noon (CET). I will try to post our new episode, passing of spring, later on. Have fun!

Carpe Diem's Tan Renga Challenge restarted. (starting with number 100) "magnolia blossoms" by Soseki Natsume

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
As I promised in an earlier post I will 'restart' the Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge in which the goal is to complete a Tan Renga by writing the 2nd stanza of two lines (7-7 syllables approx.) to a given haiku. Tan Renga is a short chained renga written by two (2) haiku poets and looks similar to tanka.
In an earlier post I gave a short explanation and an Example of a Tan Renga (that post you can find HERE).
In this 'restarting' episode I have chosen a haiku written by Soseki Natsume which I used in our last CD Theme Week 'Magnolia Blossoms, haiku by Soseki Natsume'.
Here is the first (3-lined) stanza of the Tan Renga you have to complete:
the sky I see
seems full of
magnolia blossoms
© Soseki Natsume 
Cherry Blossoms and Magnolia Blossoms (Woodblock by Hoitsu)

I think you will remember this haiku by Soseki Natsume and I love to challenge you to create the second stanza of this Tan Renga by associating on the scene in the haiku by Soseki Natsume.
Here is my attempt to complete this Tan Renga:
the sky I see
seems full of
magnolia blossoms                
© Soseki Natsume
colorful clouds of fantasy
a new day rises
                         © Chèvrefeuille
Not as strong as I had hoped. I am looking forward to your completions of this Tan Renga Challenge. This Tan Renga Challenge is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 6th at noon (CET). Have fun!    

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Carpe Diem Special #208 Sara McNulty's 4th "fantasy" shadorma

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First this: Through circumstances I forgot to publish the 4th CD-special by Sara yesterday. I was to busy with the new edition of Souchou, our own e-zine. So here it is the last CD-special of April in which I will 'highlight' haiku by Sara McNulty, our 'time'-kukai winner.

As I ran through Sara's oeuvre I ran into several beautiful haiku, but I ran also into a shadorma. I remember that I have done a Carpe Diem "Little Ones" episode somewhere in August 2014 and this is what I told you there about shadorma:

[...] "The Shadorma is a poetic form consisting of a six-line stanza (or sestet). The form is alleged to have originated in Spain. Each stanza has a syllable count of three syllables in the first line, five syllables in the second line, three syllables in the third and fourth lines, seven syllables in the fifth line, and five syllables in the sixth line (3/5/3/3/7/5) for a total of 26 syllables. A poem may consist of one stanza, or an unlimited number of stanzas (a series of shadormas).

It has been suggested that the shadorma is not a historical poetic form as it is alleged to be by those who have recently revived and popularized it. There is no evidence of extant early Spanish poetry using this form. Further, the word shadorma does not appear in Spanish-language dictionaries, and no examples of the early usage of the form appear in poetry textbooks or anthologies. Further, there is no literary criticism regarding its history in Spanish literature. Considering this, the alleged history of the shadorma may be modern hoax (a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth) or the poetic equivalent of an urban legend (a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true). However, the shadorma has been used by many modern writers and is a popular writing exercise in creative writing programs." [...]

Sara wrote a nice shadorma "fantasy" which I love to share here:

She returns to earth
winged spirit
on a leaf’s silver tear.
Unseen, she observes.

And a nice double shadorma "a cozy evening":

My sister and I
watched old films,
black and white
holiday classics we knew
by heart.  Curled on couch

our arms extended,
palms stroking
gold-brown fur
of a tiger-striped tabby,
green eyes, slits of bliss.

The goal for this CD-Special is to write a shadorma inspired on the verses by Sara. Here is my attempt:

It's a poetry-form were I am not so familiar with so I will give it a try to write my first Shadorma ever and share it here with you all ...

red Roses
sharing their perfume,
morning mist
and the soft breeze
giving it to the whole wide world,
unknown love

© Chèvrefeuille

This CD-Special is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 3rd at noon (CET). I will post our planned episode, puddles, later on.

Carpe Diem #964 kites

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First my excuses for this late posting, I am in the nightshift and hadn't time earlier. So here it is our new episode. This day our prompt is kites and its based on the modern kigo as gathered by Jane Reichhold in her "A dictionary of haiku".
Kites ... are not specific for spring, but in this time of year we see them more often then in winter, so that's why Jane included this modern kigo for spring.

Here are a few examples for kites as created by Jane:

kite string
a child's name spoken
in a high wind

a kite
raising from sea mists
rainbow colors
© Jane Reichhold

A short episode, but what can I tell you more about kites? I am looking forward to your responses. Have fun!

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 3rd at noon (CET). I will try to post our new episode, puddles, later on.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #77 pickles (in the way of Basho) lost episode of March

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
It's Wednesday again and it's time for a new episode of Tokubetsudesu. This week I love to tell you more about one of the most delightful concepts of haiku writing, Karumi (or Lightness). The concept of Karumi isn't a new idea, it comes from the other Japanese arts and Basho has tried to bring that Karumi concept into haiku writing in the, say, last ten years of his life.

It's the last episode of March which I couldn't publish because of the circumstances then, so here it is our last episode "In The Way of Basho" in which we explored the haiku writing techniques used by the master.
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Basho has meant a lot for haiku. He created several new ideas and writing techniques and was really a master of haiku. During his life Basho became in a way a Zen-Buddhist (he studied under Butcho, a Zen Buddhist monk), however he was never really a monk, only during his journeys.
In his time the Japanese roads weren't great, sometimes only small paths and travelers often were robbed  along the way. The most travelers chose to travel like a monk or priest, because that provided them free and save passage. Basho also traveled like a monk or priest, clothed in a black robe and a shaved head.
Basho had a big group of disciples and followers close around him, but also widely spread over Japan.

Basho, the traveling poet (he undertook his journeys almost all in the last ten years of his life), had one goal in his last years. He was anxious to spread his idea, his concept, of Karumi (Lightness) in haiku. He even went on journeys to preach that concept notwithstanding his bad health. A lot of his disciples turned their back to him, because they wouldn't accept (or understand) his idea of Karumi.

Basho, however, tried strongly to "preach" his karumi idea, a technique which was known only from other kinds of Japanese art, for haiku. It's said that he himself managed this technique badly, because he couldn't find the right words to explain what karumi was. There are a few haiku by Basho in which karumi can be found. Here are a few examples:

under the trees
soup and pickles
cherry blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
Ko no moto wa shiru mo namasu mo sakura kana

Underneath the trees,
soups and salads are buried
In cherry blossoms.

Uguisu ya mochi ni fun suru en no saki

A spring warbler casts
A dropping on the rice cakes —
he veranda edge..

© Basho

What is karumi?

Bashô developed this concept during his final travels in 1693. Karumi is perhaps one of the most important and least understood principles of haiku poetry. Karumi can best be described as “lightness,” or a sensation of spontaneity. In many ways, karumi is a principle rooted in the “spirit” of haiku, rather than a specific technique. Bashô taught his students to think of karumi as “looking at the bottom of a shallow stream”. When karumi is incorporated into haiku, there is often a sense of light humor or child-like wonderment at the cycles of the natural world. Many haiku using karumi are not fixed on external rules, but rather an unhindered expression of the poet’s thoughts or emotions. This does not mean that the poet forgets good structure; just that the rules of structure are used in a natural manner. In my opinion, karumi is “beyond” technique and comes when a poet has learned to internalize and use the principles of the art interchangeably.

In a way it brought me another idea. Traditionally, and especially in Edo Japan, women did not have the male privelege of expanding their horizons, so their truth or spirituality was often found in the mundane. Women tend to validate daily life and recognize that miracles exist within the mundane, which is the core of haiku.There were females who did compose haiku, which were called "kitchen-haiku" by literati, but these "kitchen-haiku" had all the simplicity and lightness of karumi ... In a way Basho taught males to write like females, with more elegance and beauty, based on the mundane (simple) life of that time.

Morning Glories

Shiba Sonome, a female haiku poet, learned about karumi from Basho: “Learn about a pine tree from a pine tree, and about a bamboo plant from a bamboo plant.”
The poet should detach the mind from his own self. Nevertheless, some people interpret the word ‘learn’ in their own ways and never really ‘learn’. ‘Learn’ means to enter into the object, perceive its delicate life, and feel its feeling, whereupon a poem forms itself. Even a poem that lucidly describes an object could not attain a true poetic sentiment unless it contains the feelings that spontaneously emerged out of the object. In such a poem the object and the poet’s self would remain forever separate, for it was composed by the poet’s personal self.

Basho also said, “In my view a good poem is one in which the form of the verse, and the joining of its two parts, seem light as a shallow river flowing over its sandy bed”.

That, then, is karumi:  becoming as one with the object of your poem … experiencing what it means to be that object … feeling the life of the object … allowing the poem to flow from that feeling and that experience.

An example by Basho:

White chrysanthemum
I look holding it straight
no dust at all

© Basho
And a few by Yozakura, the unknown haiku-poet

at dawn
I wash my feet with dew
the longest day

Sakura (woodblock) also Karumi

feeling alone
lost in the woods around Edo –
just the autumn wind

© Yozakura

Karumi is lightness, simplicity, becoming one with the experience you have on that moment when you are composing your haiku. Karumi is, in my opinion, a higher level of the concept of Wabi Sabi.
I think karumi can only be the concept for your haiku when you are not only a haiku poet, but also living haiku ... Living haiku is being one with the world around you including nature and enjoying the emptiness, loneliness and oneness of being part of nature as a human. A haiku poet (in my opinion) lives with nature, adores nature, praises nature and respects nature.

Haiku is not only a wonderful poem ... it's a life-style.

just one leaf
struggles with the wind
like Basho

© Chèvrefeuille

And here another one in which I hope I have touched karumi:

slowly a snail seeks
his path between Cherry blossoms
reaches for the sky

© Chèvrefeuille

Well I hope you did like this "lost episode". And I hope that it will inspire you to write an all new haiku, trying to catch karumi.
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 2nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, kites, later on. For now .... have fun!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In The Spotlight at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai #1 Ubugu

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the first episode of our new feature in which I will give haiku poets / esses without their own website or weblog a stage to share their haiku. In this new feature, "In The Spoltight At Carpe Diem Haiku Kai" I will introduce haiku poets / esses to you who have shared their haiku with me through e-mail.

In this first episode I love to introduce to you Ubugu (nom de plume of Robert Gibson). Ubugu has emailed me several times and he creates wonderful haiku in my opinion. All his haiku are inspired on the prompts here at CDHK and that makes it a joy to place him in the spotlight.

Ubugu (penname of Robert Gibson)
 Here is what he emailed me about himself:

My nom de plume "ubuge" is a Japanese botanical term. Think dandelion fluff. Strictly defined as: not the fruit or seed but the appendage or group of appendages aiding in the transport of the fruit or seed. This recognizes daemonic cryptomnesia, and thereby releases me to continue on my merry way without fear of indictment.

Speaking of merry ways, Carpe Diem Haiku Kai has kept me skipping along since the beginning of this year when she found me. Some points for meditation afforded pause...

that touch
urgent on my shoulder
begs me stay

© Ubugu

Ubugu jr.

And recently Ubugu send me another beautiful piece about himself:

Life on the river, when we are allowed to stay still and absorb the view, eventually suggests that the landings and signs along the way obscure a bounty of unknowables.  I emerged in 1944, a war baby, a preborn bastard  fathered by a Air Corps Cadet, carried to term by a teenage Wisconsin girl.  Hardly uncommon, and practically excusable: grasping for handholds while the world wages war.    The LZ was Shamrock Texas, the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado.  My paternal grandparents, Dust Bowl survivors and suitcase farmers, made a place for me.  At age 6, I was given over to Cheviot Hills Military Academy, an exclusive Culver City, California boarding school.  How this was financially possible still today ranks among my chief unknowables.  There, everything by the numbers.  I learned to make my letters by the numbers.  I learned to eat by the numbers.  The environment was sterile and unbending.  Then words came along.  Then sentences.  Then books.  The marks rose off the page, transfiguring into ideas and pictures. The word for yellow was indeed yellow.  The more words and I played together – coming easy as remembering -- the better acquainted we became.    And thus began my lives in letters.     At every juncture, language patiently adjusted to my level; that which I couldn’t understand was salted away for future processing.
In my forty-fourth year, haiku formally found me. I was writing my second book, Rubbings – A Vietnam Pastoral, and found myself high-centered.  The Higginson/Harter book that literally flew off the bookstore shelf offered a parsimonious dimension to writing I was made ready to learn.  From then on, the architecture and resonance from little stacks of pebbles joined the Rubbings narrative. 

pendulous spirit
a cloud passes
behind the moon

i feel you there
tho when i look - nothing
blinded angel,
to touch me
i must reach to you

mist and meadow
when I see my friend
distance ceases

Now in my seventy-first year, a mental haibun travels with me: in a remote old forest of tall redwoods and ferns, a small cabin. I lean out from a paneless opening, charmed by the wonder in all I see. The peace is complete save this forest whisper:

everything here
is for you
it is not yours

© Robert Gibson (penname: Ubugu)

Houston, Texas USA

And here are haiku he shared through the mail with me:

Haiku by Ubugu:


learning to row -
grandfather teaches steering on
something behind


many skies, many seas
a visiting ladybug

absurdity / humor:

his sudden toupee
-- not to him


pendulous spirit --
a cloud ducks behind
the moon


whispering pines --
so - why listen for the voice
of a solitary needle?

© Ubugu

Well ... I think Robert or Ubugu is a great and gifted haiku poet and I think that these haiku he shared with us here can be a source of inspiration. However ... for this new CDHK feature I will not create a linking widget, but if you would like to share your inspired haiku than feel free to share them with us in the comment field.

Next week I will place another wonderful haiku poetess in the spotlight on Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

PS. I will publish our next episode, a new Tokubetsudesu, later than planned.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Carpe Diem #963 Magnolia

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I had a busy day today so I don't have enough time to create a big episode, so I will give you all a short episode for your inspiration. That means ... I will give you only the haiku example by Jane Reichhold (extracted from her online saijiki) which she gives at her website.
Today our prompt is Magnolia, that beautiful bush that blooms earlier in spring (or late in winter). Jane gives just one example:

snow melting
magnolia buds

© Jane Reichhold

As I stated in the Theme Week posts I have a few favorites to write haiku about, Magnolia is one of them. So I have a few "magnolia"-haiku for you too.

blossoming Magnolia
one of its branches scattered -
on the credenza

in the front yard
last snow is melting
magnolia blooms

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until April 30th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, a new Tokubetsudesu episode, later on. Have fun!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Carpe Diem #962 bird feathers

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I announced in an earlier CD-Extra I will bring back the Tan Renga Challenge. To give you (and those who are new here) an idea what a Tan Renga is I will give you a brief explanation and an example.

Maybe you know the Tanka that poem with 5 lines following the syllables count 5-7-5-7-7, A beautiful Japanese poetry form which I just started recently to create. The Tanka is a poem written by one poet and that's the difference with the Tan Renga.

The Tan Renga has also 5 lines following the same syllables count as the Tanka, but the Tan Renga is written by two poets. One poet writes the first stanza of three (3) lines in the following example that will be Jane Reichhold:

Here is the first stanza of this example Tan Renga:

morning sun
the twinkle of stars
still in the dew 
                     (Jane Reichhold)

The goal for the second poet is create the second stanza of two (2) lines through association on the first stanza (as we do in a renga). For this example I have written the second stanza:

her bright shining eyes
she unpacks her new doll
     (your host)

This is what you call a Tan Renga. It's possible to leave a blanc line between the two stanzas, but you can also make it unite with each other as I do mostly. Than this is the result:

morning sun
the twinkle of stars
still in the dew 
                     (Jane Reichhold)
her bright shining eyes
she unpacks her new doll
     (your host)

Logo for May 2016 Chained Together

Tan Renga is a short chained poem written by two poets. In our CDHK Tan Renga Challenge I will give the first stanza and than you have to write the second stanza towards it through association. In that way you complete the Tan Renga.

Okay ... back to our episode of today. Today I have another nice prompt for you to create a haiga with. Today that's bird feathers. To inspire you a little bit I will give the examples by Jane Reichhold for this prompt from her modern Saijiki "A Dictionary of Haiku".

bird feathers
in the night sound
spring rain

fading the colors
of a peacock feather
an iris blooms

joined by listening
the breath of disciples
in baby birds

© Jane Reichhold

I think it doesn't further explanation so I close this episode with my own haiga:

king of the farm
spreads out his gorgeous tail
feathers on a vase

© Chèvrefeuille
And to make it an even better source of inspiration I love to share a cascading haiku here also that starts with the haiku from the haiga:

king of the farm
spreads out his gorgeous tail -
feathers on a vase

feathers on a vase
eyes looking deep into mine -
again in love

again in love -
the first day of Spring has come
listen to the breeze

© Chèvrefeuille

By the way this haiga and cascading haiku were inspired on a haiku by Masaoka Shiki which I will share here too:

harukaze ni o wo hirogetaru kujaku kana

the peacock
spreading out his tail
in the Spring breeze

© Shiki (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

Well a lot to think about I will say, I am looking forward to all of your wonderful responses ... By the way I am behind with commenting I will try to comment on all of your posts a.s.a.p.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until April 29th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, magnolia, later on.

Carpe Diem Extra April 23 2016 Announcement

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I have an announcement to make ... As I wrote in an earlier post here at CDHK I love to bring back the Tan Renga Challenge and I will do that soon. Next friday April 29th 2016 the Tan Renga Challenge will return and in May I will challenge you to complete Tan Renga every day. After May, starting on the first friday of June I will the Tan Renga Challenge do every friday.

Than another announcement. On a regular base I get haiku by e-mail created by haiku poets who don't have their own website / weblog. Those haiku poets need a stage too so to give them the possibility to share their haiku with the world I will create an all new Carpe Diem feature. That new CDHK feature I have given the title "In the Spotlight at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai". This new feature I will launch next tuesday April 26th ... For this new feature I need your help. Do you know haiku poets without a weblog or website and do you want them 'in the spotlight at CDHK'? Than please let me know.

Our new exclusive CDHK e-book 'color your life', about the rainbow theme week is almost ready and will be available in the upcoming week.

To conclude this CD Extra ... recently one of my haiku was published in Akisame, the newsletter of the European Haiku Society. I am really proud.


Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Carpe Diem Theme Week 3: Magnolia Blossoms, haiku by Soseki Natsume: episode 7

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Here it is our last episode in our third Carpe Diem Theme Week "Magnolia Blossoms, haiku by Soseki Natsume".
I have tried to introduce to you Soseki Natsume (1867 - 1916) and the beauty of his haiku. For closing this 3rd CD-Theme Week I have another nice haiku by Soseki, but I also love to share a little bit of background on him and his relation to Shiki.

Soseki Natsume
Soseki Natsume is best known as a novelist. However, he also wrote many good haiku. Soseki Natsume wrote his haiku under the pseudonym “Soseki”. For more reasons than one he should be regarded as one of the most important haijin after Shiki.

Soseki and Shiki were good pals. They were born in the same year. They both liked rakugo comedy. They first met each other in 1889 at a higher middle school in Tokyo through the school’s literary circle. Shiki was astounded by the extraordinary quality of Soseki’s writings in classical Chinese, most notably his kanshi (poems in Chinese). He first caught sight of them in the magazine of the circle which he edited and got in touch with Soseki. They became bosom friends until the death of Shiki 13 years later. Soseki learned haiku from Shiki in the same year and thus became one of the earliest practitioners in this genre after Shiki reformed it into a proper branch of modern literature. He adopted Soseki as his haigo (haiku penname) and used it for the first time this year. It later became his general penname, especially for his novels. Incidentally, the penname Shiki was created also in the same year. In other words, the two glittering haiku names made their debut in 1889.

Soseki’s first recorded haiku appeared in his letter to Shiki dated 13 May 1889 in which he wrote two haiku to console the friend who had just coughed out blood because of pulmonary tuberculosis. Until his death in 1916 Soseki wrote 2426 haiku in total (some say it is 2600). One of the two haiku in the mentioned letter goes:

kaero to naka zu ni warae hototogisu

laugh, not cry

© Soseki Natsume

Three years later he wrote another haiku with the classical kigo hototogisu (cuckoo):

naku nara ba mangetsu ni nake hototogisu

if you want to sing
sing under the full moon

© Soseki Natsume

Both are beauties and as we could read above Soseki and Shiki were bosom friends. Is Soseki the most important Haijin after Shiki? I don't know, but he is surely a great Haijin. In my opinion there are several other Haijin that are very important after Shiki, but that's just my opinion.

Autumn Leaves and Five Stories Pagoda reflections

For this last episode of our Theme Week I have another haiku for you in which we can read how much Soseki Natsume was into Zen. 

tō gojū gokai o nokoshi kasumikeri

a pagoda with five stories
leaving only the fifth story visible—
the haze

© Soseki Natsume

Five-storied pagodas (to goju) are commonly seen in Japanese Buddhist temples. They have five layers of roofs, with each representing one of the five traditional elements (godai).

scattered by autumn leaves
the old pond

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you did like this Third Theme Week and as you all know I will create an exclusive Carpe Diem Haiku Kai e-book about this Theme Week in which I not only will gather the posts, but also your responses. If you don't want to be published in the exclusive CDHK e-book please let me know by sending an email to:

This last episode of the Third CDHK Theme Week "Magnolia Blossoms" is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 27th 10.00 PM (CET). !!! This is the new "time-frame" for the CDHK Theme Week episodes as mentioned in yesterday's CD-Extra !!!

Carpe Diem #961 prayers for rain

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I was preparing the prompt-list for April, I ran into a nice prompt which needs some explanation. Today we have prayers for rain as prompt and you all know that praying for rain isn't very real, but ages back there were cultures who used to pray for rain through, for example a so called "rain-dance" as (for example) did the American Natives, Indians.
Praying for rain was also seen in the Japanese culture and there are several haiku about praying for rain and rain dances which I love to share here later. First I love to share a few haiku about this prompt by Jane Reichhold.

from his face drops
beads of sweat

with water
begging the soil soon
for lettuce

Haiga on "prayers for rain" by Sakuo

For a rice planting culture like Japan, the seasonal rain is very important, it is a question of life and death! If the rain does not fall enough during the rainy season we have a "Dry Rainy Season" (kara tsuyu).

the gods of rain
swaying here and there -
floods versus droughts

© anonymous

This is the time when farmers turn to the Gods and Buddhas (kami hotoke) for prayer. The prayers and rituals for rain take many forms in Japan. Some are accompanied by special dances, some by a lion dance (shishimai), fires are lit on the tops of mountains and sutras are chanted.
Some Rain Dances and Lion Dances are part of regional festivals held every year in spring or early summer and are quite pleasant events for the population, but the real Rain Rituals take place during the end of summer, when the weather situation calls for it and the farmers are desperate. They have a quite different severe atmosphere.

In the following, I will try and introduce some of these rituals.

In some areas, large boulders are inscribed with the characters for "Jizo", but people came to call them "Jizo who loved Rain" ama koi Jizo and used them for rain rituals.

In the earliest record of court-sponsored rainmaking, Nihon Shoki includes an entry on praying to the "all kami " and "all shrines" as well as to "famous mountains and large rivers," mentioning in particular that Empress Kōgyoku personally prayed for rain. In Shoku Nihongi, Emperor Monmu (683-707) offered a horse to the Mikumari kami and prayed for rain in the 4th month of the 2nd year of his reign (699), indicating that rainmaking festivals gradually became performed to worship specific deities.

The practice of attaching the rainmaking function to a specific kami became conspicuous from the reigns of Emperor Shōtoku to Emperor Kōnin (the second half of the eighth century), and Niukawakamisha shrine (now, Niukawakami jinja nakasha) was perceived as the rainmaking deity and named Amashigami.

In the Heian period, Niukawakami Shrine remained the center of rainmaking festivals until the reigns of Emperors Kanmu and Heizei (781-809). In the subsequent reign of Emperor Saga (809-23), Kifunesha shrine (now Kibune jinja) located close to the Heian capital (present-day Kyoto), however, also became a rainmaking deity alongside Niukawakami Shrine.

Praying for rain (amagoi)

From around the time of Emperor Saga, rain-halting festivals to pray for the cessation of rain and the control of wind and rain became popular. In rainmaking and rain-halting festivals from the mid-Heian period onward, offerings were being made to eighty-five rainmaking kami, centering around Niukawakami and Kifune Shrines; to these two shrines, black horses were offered at rainmaking festivals and white horses were offered at rain-halting festivals. Thereafter, both types of festivals came to be widely held at non-imperial shrines.

On the other hand, there are numerous examples of rainmaking rituals among the populace, including temporary seclusion in a shrine, rainmaking dances, angering the "Water kami " (suijin) to induce rain, invoking rain by sprinkling around holy water, and summoning rain clouds by sending up smoke from a mountaintop.

A student of Matsuo Basho named Shinshi wrote a poem and after that, it rained.

amagoi ya ta o mimeguri no kami naraba

rain rituals -
if the gods are here now
to see the paddies

© Shinshi

Or these haiku which are written by Shiki:

tsuki akashi amagoi odori mi ni yukan

a red moon -
let us go to see
the rain dance

amagoi ya oriori nozoku miya no soto

prayers for rain -
once in a while I have a look
outside the shrine

© Shiki (Tr. Gabi Greve)

ama goi no tatsu nottekomi te se no hayashi

praying for rain -
the dragon rushes on
to the rapids

© Fujiwara Takao (Tr. Nakamura Sakuo)

Haiga by Nakamura Sakuo

taimatsu ni amagoi-gyoo ya yoru no mine

rain rituals
in the light of torches -
mountain peaks at night

© Tan Taigi  (Tr. Gabi Greve)

What a wonderful way of begging for rain and what a great series of haiku this is. Isn't it an awesome idea that "praying for rain" has given us these beauties?

And now it is up to us to create haiku in response on "prayers for rain". Have fun!

Here is my attempt:

she the moon hides
behind clouds while witches dance
begging for rain

© Chèvrefeuille

Above used information / background is from Gabi Greve's weblog.

I couldn't find a good enough image to create a haiga with so I love to share a video here about a raindance in Africa with music by Adiemus.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 28th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, bird feathers, later on. !!! With this episode the responding time is now increased to 5 days (approximately) as promised in our yesterday's CD-Extra !!!