Monday, June 18, 2018

Carpe Diem #1456 sweetfish (ayu)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful Kai. I had an easy day today. I had a day off and so this day I was going with the flow so to say. Of course I was busy in another way. I am busy with creating new features here and I love to bring back a few of the features we have seen here. Last Saturday I started again with reading Jane Reichhold's "Basho, The Complete Haiku" and I ran into wonderful haiku written by the master. Haiku that I hadn't really read the last time I read this book. That brought me an idea that I will use next month, but there was also a very rare incident this weekend.
I got an issue of a renaown mindfulness magazine here in The Netherlands and I read a wonderful article in that issue. Maybe you rememeber that I did a pre-announcement about our upcoming summer -retreat and it's theme "Finding The Way". Well that article I mentioned above was about "Finding The Way", it was about a pilgrimage, not the usual pilgrimage as for example "the road to santiago", but about an "inner pilgrimage", a pilgrimage you can do in the warmth of your own home. I will tell you more about it as I start our summer retreat on July 15th.

Okay ... back to our all day business this month, classical kigo for summer. Kigo, as you all know, are words that point towards the season in which the haiku was written and kigo are part of the classical way of writing haiku (or tanka).

Today's kigo is sweetfish (ayu) and I will try to tell you a little bit more about this classical kigo for summer.

The ayu or sweetfish, is a species of fish. It is the only species in the genus Plecoglossus and family Plecoglossidae. It is a relative of the smelts.

Native to East Asia, it is distributed in the northwestern Pacific Ocean along the coast of Hokkaidō in Japan southward to the Korean Peninsula, China, Hong Kong and northern Vietnam. It is amphidromous, moving between coastal marine waters and freshwater lakes and rivers. A few landlocked populations also exist in lakes in Japan such as Biwa. It is an introduced species in Taiwan.

Sweetfish (ayu) grilled in salt

The name "sweetfish" was inspired by the sweetness of its flesh. In reference to its typical one-year lifespan, it is also written clled "year-fish". Some individuals live two to three years. The ayu is the prefectural fish of Gunma Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture.

I found a nice haiku by Basho (written in 1689) translated by Gabi Greve about this sweetfish (ayu):

ayu no ko no shirauo okuru wakare kana

young ayu sweetfish
are seeing off the whitefish
and say good bye

© Basho (Tr. Gabi Greve)

This is what is said about this haiku: The whitefish are the first to go upstream to spawn, the ayu follow them one month later. Basho and Sora are ready to depart for "Oku no Hosomichi" and he has to leave his young disciples (ayu no ko) behind at Senju.

And another haiku, also by Basho:

mata ya tagui Nagara no kawa no ayu namasu

once again - this rare
pickled sweetfish
from river Nagaragawa

© Basho (Tr. Gabi Greve)

Sweetfish (ayu) woodblock print by Utagawa Hirosighe (1797-1858)
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 25th at noon (CEST). I will try to publish our new episode, luxurance (shigeri), later on. For now ... have fun!

By the way here is the winter kigo for our friends on the Southern Hemisphere: wicker fishnet (ajiro)

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