On August 26, I visited 象潟(Kisakata), 秋田(Akita) and took some pictures of the spots referred to in『奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ .

I also wrote some haiku there. I’d like to post some pictures and haiku.

松尾芭蕉( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) arrived at Kisakata on the evening of August 1, 1689, when a misty rain started to fall, obscuring Chokai Mountain.

The next morning the weather cleared beautifully. When the morning sun rose in all its splendor, Basho and his party took a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata. They put in first 能因島 (Nohin jima), Nohin Island, where they called at the remains of the hut in which 能因(Nohin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.

Here are the photos of Nohin Island.

能因島・鳥海・象潟(H21) 047 

能因島・鳥海・象潟(H21) 053

My haiku is this:

 能因島ねぶの花行き老松樹 

(Nohin jima  nebu no hana yuki  roh shoh ju)

Nohin Island 

mimosa blossoms gone

old pine trees

After that, Basho and his party left for the opposite shore, where they landed from their boat, and they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hoshi)(1118-1190), Saigyo, who wrote of it in 1174:

虫甘方の桜は波に埋もれて花の上漕ぐ海士の釣り舟 

Kisakata no sakura wa nami ni uzumorete hana no ue kogu ama no tsuribune

At Kisakata

A cherry tree is covered

At times by the waves;

Fishermen must row their boats

Above the cherry blossoms.

  

                                        Translated by Donald Keene

 Then they called at the temple standing nearby. In those days it was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which is now called 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple.

Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, Basho rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water.

Now there is the stone for tying the boat with a rope (舟つなぎの石)(fune tsunagi no ishi) found behind the temple, where Basho and his party landed, tying their boat.

And we can see Mt. Chokai from there.

Here is a photo of the boat-tying stone and Mt. Chokai.

能因島・鳥海・象潟(H21) 039

By the way, I’d like to show you a photo of Mt. Chokai, taken at the countryside of Kisakata.

能因島・鳥海・象潟(H21) 011 

There I wrote the following haiku:

白雲の鳥海山に蜻蛉飛ぶ 

(haku un no  Chokaisan ni  tonbo tobu)

Mt. Chokai 

rising in white clouds

dragonflies below

Here I’d like to tell you about the origin of the name ‘Mt. Chokai’.

Kanji characters, 鳥(tori), bird ,  海(umi), sea , and 山(yama), mountain, are used for that name in Japanese. This means that the mountain was filled with birds and had a wonderful view of the sea.

 Here  is a photo of the sea taken from the slope in Kisakata, which leads to the foot of Mt. Chokai.

能因島・鳥海・象潟(H21) 022 

There I also wrote the following haiku:

 初尾花海の彼方に島一つ

(hatsu obana  umi no kanata ni  shima hitotsu)

 

Fresh pampas grasses

facing the horizon

lonely island

                                                                                        

                                  ― Hidenori Hiruta

 

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On August 3, we received an e-mail from Mr. Roy Lindquist in Norway, saying “ I just wonder if I could have any future in your Akita International Haiku Network.”

We at once answered his e-mail, saying “ It’s our great pleasure to share haiku with each other on the website.”

Since then we’ve been sharing haiku or comments through the linking websites.

RoyIdress_pp(Roy Lindquist)

According to his self-introduction, he just recently began writing haiku and he is only a new writer of haiku. We post his two haiku first of all.

                     Man reflects from heart

burned charcoal still warm

               distant song

distant melody from mother’s heart

gray hair

still listening

 These two haiku of his was written for 徳川元子(Tokugawa Motoko), who was a writer of 『遠いうた徳川伯爵夫人の七十五年』(Tooi uta- Tokugawa hakushaku fujin no nana juugo nen), ‘Distant Song : 75 years as Countess of Tokugawa’ .

Mr. Roy Lindquist met Mrs. Motoko Tokugawa, the late Countess Tokugawa, in 1968, when he was a student, and showed her around in Oslo as a guide.

During her stay in Oslo, he was given a Japanese name, 藤枝輝雄 (Fujieda Teruo), so he thinks of her as his mother. He was presented with her book in 1982. 

Mr. Roy Lindquist visited Japan twice in 1969 and 1972, and he met Mrs. Motoko Tokugawa in Tokyo. They had been corresponding with each other for more than 20 years until she passed away in Tokyo in 1989.

Remembering his stays in Japan, he wrote some haiku.

deep bow

lady not forgotten

respect of the past

 

last iris bloom

the woman strikes a match

in the Meiji garden pavilion

 

melancholy Koto tunes

face disappears

chrysanthemum embroidery on old wedding dress

 

Motok_Roy_6904(ロイと徳川元子さん) 

Now Mr. Roy Lindquist has his own site: http://haikuroy.blogspot.com, where he publishes his own haiku almost every day. He is such an energetic haiku poet.

Here we post some of his haiku written recently.

 Persimmon tree

autumns joy

speechless

 

innocent child

play with words

so easy that even an adult smile

 

shining pearl

most beautiful

its secret is pain

 

click click click

concentration

keyboard

On August 21, his haiku appeared on ‘the Asahi Haikuist Network by David McMurray’. 

tiny blue flower

morning glory

dew under my bare feet

 

This site address is: http://www.asahi.com/english/haiku/.

Last of all we hope that his haiku will be enjoyed by more and more readers in the world.

 

― Hidenori Hiruta

  

Here is a picture of a lotus flower bud.

 

弘前城・五所川原ねぶた(H21) 008

In 2003 I got a haiku book written by Sylvia Forges-Ryan and Edward Ryan.

Its title is “Take a Deep Breath’” ‘The Haiku Way to Inner Peace’.

Its jacket photo by Jana Leon has a flower of white and red or scarlet.  Even now I wonder whether the flower is a lotus flower or a water lily. It might be a water lily, because Sylvia Forges-Ryan wrote haiku about water lilies.

Among these lilies

in Monet’s pond

Basho’s watersound

And they noted:

Here’s that splash again, only now it brings together the spontaneity of Nature―Basho’s “watersound” ―and the art of a painted garden. Even in a pond as beautiful as Monet’s, filled with a mass of lovely water lilies, the frog still goes “pop!” The splash breaks through the stillness of the art.

In ‘HAIKU MEDITATION’ of their book, the classic haiku poem written by Basho, from which Basho’s watersound comes, is shown with their translation.

Old pond

a frog leaps in

water’s sound

They also noted:

It is about a moment―just the experience of this moment―”splash!” Every haiku is an attempt to reveal, in poetic form, such a moment, no more or less. Often the first two lines set the scene, giving the reader a context. Then in the next line the poem opens to offer a moment of insight. True haiku are carefully created so as to lead to a “splash” that sets off ripples of thought in the reader.

  Here I proceed with the main topic ‘Basho’s lotus flowers.

In 1688 Basho visited one of his disciples, 下里知足(Shimosato Chisoku) in 鳴海(Narumi), 名古屋市(Nagoya-shi). There he wrote the following haiku:

蓮池や折らでそのまま玉祭 

(hasu ike ya  ora de sono mama  tama matsuri) 

 

Lotus pond!

not – pick this as

festival – of – spirits

On the day of Basho’s visit, they held 玉祭(魂祭)(tama matsuri), festival – of – spirits, which is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed (deceased) spirits of one’s ancestors. Cut lotus flowers were among the offerings placed on the “spirit shelf” (tama dana) for this festival.

  Basho’s haiku implies that lotus flowers blooming in a small pond of his disciple’s are the very offerings as they are, even if they aren’t cut and offered on the “spirit shelf”.

 

弘前城・五所川原ねぶた(H21) 010

 By the way, why do lotus flowers have anything to do with Buddhism?

That is because of Buddhist iconography, in which Buddha is often represented on a pink lotus. In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech, and mind as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. It is also to be noted that most Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu, Japanese, amongst other Asian deities are often are depicted as seated on a lotus flower. According to legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.   

弘前城・五所川原ねぶた(H21) 006 

This summer I am reading again the haiku book, whose title is “Take a Deep Breath”, ‘The Haiku Way to Inner Peace’.

And I wrote my haiku:

合掌に息深まれり蓮の花 

(gasshou ni  iki fukamare ri  hasu no hana)

Palms joined

taking a deep breath

lotus flowers

 

弘前城・五所川原ねぶた(H21) 067

Last of all I’d like to refer to the viewpoint on haiku, about which Sylvia Forges-Ryan and Edward Ryan told us in their haiku book.

They noted:

Haiku are the perfect form for their exercises because they are the shortest of poems, with the longest echoes. A good haiku distills a great deal of experience into a few phrases, and sets off a chain of thoughts that expand like the ripples in a pond.

                                                                                                                                                                                                ― Hidenori  Hiruta

  Professor Alexander Dolin teaches Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University(AIU). He also writes haiku.

We would like to post haiku by Professor Alexander Dolin and his students, Mr. Brent Sanders, Ms. Lim Shi Qi and Ms. Madoka Shizukuishi.

And we also inform you of ‘AIU HAIKU Contest’.

Haiku by Alexander Dolin 

秋田杉霜つく朝も青すぎて 

  akita sugi  shimo tsuku asa mo  ao sugi te 

Cedars in the field

(Akita cedars)

even through the frost this morning

abundantly green!

夜深き闇に歌詠み猫の声

yoru fukaki  yami ni uta yomi  neko no koe

Darkness of the night

and my cat is chanting there

(waka) poems he composed…

 

Haiku by Brent Sanders

The sun will burn away

The magic twilight hour.

It is such a waste.

 

I wake before dawn

A silent world where only

  The wind outside howls.

 

Haiku by Lim Shi Qi

Run to far way

Till your legs plead mercy

  Till the seasons change

  

 I stand on the hills

Why do I still not see you

Wonder are you real

 

Haiku by Madoka Shizukuishi

雪のよに溶ければいいのに宿題の山

  yuki no yo ni  tokere ba ii noni  shukudai no yama  

The piles of assignment

I hope they were snow, so that

they could melt away

歩めども歩めども遠いあなたまでの距離

ayume domo  ayume domo tooi  anata made no kyori

Look back to make sure

But still there is a long distance to you

Even I walk all day long

 

お気に入り窓の粉雪とホットチョコレート

  okiniiri  mado no konayuki to  hotto chokore-to

My favorite winter

Breath is white and snow in sight

Sweetness of hot chocolate

雨降りに思い出すのは母の声

ame furi ni  omoidasu nowa  haha no koe

Memory in my heart

Mother’s voice calling me soft

One rainy day

 

あかね空コスモスゆれて君想う

akane zora   kosumosu yure te  kimi omou

Madder red sunset

Seeing a swaying cosmos; I ask

“How have you been?”

 

Contest Information

AIU HAIKU Contest

Organized by: the Kokyo Yuwa Executive Committee (2009 Agency for Cultural Affairs aid project)

Deadlines : In hand, September 4, 2009

Details are informed on the AIU homepage:

     http://www.aiu.ac.jp/~cresi/eng/haiku/index.html

On July 31, I visited 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple in 象潟(Kisakata), 秋田(Akita) and I discovered many things. This temple is famous for the last spot which 松尾芭蕉( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) visited during his stay in Kisakata from August 1 – 3, 1689.

According to 『奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ translated by Donald Keene, Basho and his party took a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata. They put in first 能因島 (Noin jima), Noin Island, where they visited the remains of the hut in which 能因(Noin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.

On the opposite shore, when they landed from their boat, they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hosi)(1118-1190), Saigyo, who wrote of it in  1174: 

虫甘方の桜は波に埋もれて花の上漕ぐ海士の釣り舟

 Kisakata no sakura wa nami ni uzumorete hana no ue kogu ama no tsuribune 

 

At Kisakata

A cherry tree is covered

At times by the waves;

Fishermen must row their boats

Above the cherry blossoms.  

                                                                                                                      

    Translated by Donald Keene

  Basho wrote on:

  “Near the water is a tomb they say is the Empress Jingu’s, and the temple standing nearby is called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji). I had never heard that the Empress had come this way. I wonder if it is true.” 

It is said that in those days there were 99 small islands and 88 lagoons there and the people enjoyed beautiful sceneries or fishing by boat around there.

However, on July 10, 1804 a big earthquake hit this area, by which the earth there upheaved by 2.4 meters and the lagoons were changed into dry land.

Now, most of those lagoons have turned into rice fields or residential areas, but there are the remains of those days left there.

Firstly, the stone for tying the boat with a rope (舟つなぎの石)(fune tsunagi no ishi) is found behind the temple.

象潟干満珠寺(H21) 017 

Secondly, the cherry tree(西行法師の歌桜)(Saigyo hoshi no uta zakura), where Saigyo is said to have written his waka poem, is also found near the boat-tying stone.

 象潟干満珠寺(H21) 018

Thirdly, the stone tablet inscribed with Basho’s haiku is found inside the temple garden. It is said to have been built in 1763 on the seventieth anniversary of Basho’s death.

象潟干満珠寺(H21) 015 

 Basho wrote his haiku during his stay in Kisakata. One of them is this:

 象潟や雨に西施がねぶの花

Kisakata ya  ame ni Seishi ga  nebu no hana

 

Kisakata

Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.

                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                         Translated by Donald Keene

  

Now there are two statues built in front of the temple. One of them is Basho’s statue and the other is Seishi’s, who is said to have been one of the four beauties in China.

 象潟干満珠寺(H21) 001

象潟干満珠寺(H21) 004

On my way home, I hit upon the following haiku:

 西施立つ芭蕉とともに咲く花火

Seishi tatsu  Basho to tomoni  saku hanabi

 

Seishi standing

accompanies Basho

fireworks in bloom

 

                                                                                             ― Hidenori Hiruta