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Japanese culture, landscape and people in all its beauty.

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Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia

I am 51 year old single from Slovenia. Gentle nature and good spirit are my main characteristics. I love outdoor activities and quiet dawns. Most of all I like swimming in clear water of Mediterranean Sea.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How to write Haiku

In japanese, the rules for how to write Haiku are clear, and will not be discussed here. In foreign languages, there exist NO consensus in how to write Haiku-poems. Anyway, let's take a look at the basic knowledge:

What to write about?

Haiku-poems can describe almost anything, but you seldom find themes which are too complicated for normal PEOPLE's recognition and understanding. Some of the most thrilling Haiku-poems describe daily situations in a way that gives the reader a brand new experience of a well-known situation.

The metrical pattern of Haiku

Haiku-poems consist of respectively 5, 7 and 5 syllables in three units. In japanese, this convention is a must, but in english, which has variation in the length of syllables, this can sometimes be difficult.

The technique of cutting

The cutting divides the Haiku into two parts, with a certain imaginative distance between the two sections, but the two sections must remain, to a degree, independent of each other. Both sections must enrich the understanding of the other.
To make this cutting in english, either the first or the second line ends normally with a colon, long dash or ellipsis.

The seasonal theme.

Each Haiku must contain a kigo, a season word, which indicate in which season the Haiku is set. For example, cherry blossoms indicate spring, snow indicate winter, and mosquitoes indicate summer, but the season word isn't always that obvious.

Please notice that Haiku-poems are written under different rules and in many languages. For translated Haiku-poems, the translator must decide whether he should obey the rules strictly, or if he should present the exact essence of the Haiku. For Haiku-poems originally written in english, the poet should be more careful. These are the difficulties, and the pleasure of Haiku.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Basho, Matsuo. (1644-1694)

The name Bashó (banana tree) is a sobriquet he adopted around 1681 after moving into a hut with a banana tree alongside. He was called Kinsaku in childhood and Matsuo Munefusa in his later days.
Basho's father was a low-ranking samurai from the Iga Province. To be a samurai, Basho serviced for the local lord Todo Yoshitada (Sengin). Since Yoshitada was fond of writing haikai, Basho began writing poetry under the name Sobo.
During the years, Basho made many travels through Japan, and one of the most famous went to the north, where he wrote Oku No Hosomichi (1694). On his last trip, he died in Osaka, and his last haiku indicates that he was still thinking of traveling and writing poetry as he lay dying:
# Fallen sick on a journey,
In dreams I run wildly
Over a withered moor.

At the time of his death, Basho had more than 2000 students.

# An old pond!
A frog jumps in-
The sound of water.

# The first soft snow!
Enough to bend the leaves
Of the jonquil low.

# In the cicada's cry
No sign can foretell
How soon it must die.

# No one travels
Along this way but I,
This autumn evening.

# In all the rains of May
there is one thing not hidden -
the bridge at Seta Bay.

# The years first day
thoughts and loneliness;
the autumn dusk is here.

# Clouds appear
and bring to men a chance to rest
from looking at the moon.

# Harvest moon:
around the pond I wander
and the night is gone.

# Poverty's child -
he starts to grind the rice,
and gazes at the moon.

# No blossoms and no moon,
and he is drinking sake
all alone!

# Won't you come and see
loneliness? Just one leaf
from the kiri tree.

# Temple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain.
A perfect evening!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Haiku of Kobayashi Issa

About Issa

He was born in the little village of Kashiwabara in the mountains of Japan's Shinano Province on the fifth day of Fifth Month, 1763: June 15 on the Western calendar. He died in the same village on the 19th of Eleventh Month in the old Japanese calendar year that corresponds to 1827: the equivalent of January 5, 1828 on the Western calendar. In the long time between these dates he learned the art of haiku (then called haikai) and wandered the length and breadth of Japan, writing everywhere he went. Though his real name was Kobayashi Yatarô, he chose Issa (Cup-of-Tea) as his haiku name. He called himself "Shinano Province's Chief Beggar" and "Priest Cup-of-Tea of Haiku Temple." A devout follower of the Jôdoshinshû sect, he imbued his work with Buddhist themes: sin, grace, trusting in Amida Buddha, reincarnation, transience, compassion, and the joyful celebration of the ordinary.

* 1763, Age 1*
In Shinano Province, Kashiwabara village, Issa is born to a family of middle-class farmers. He lives in a house across from the post horse stables.
* 1765, Age 3
Eighth Month, 7th day, his mother dies.
* 1770, Age 8
His stepmother Satsu arrives.
* 1772, Age 10
Fifth Month, 10th day, Issa's half brother Senroku is born.
* 1776, Age 14
Eighth Month, 14th day, his beloved grandmother dies. Ninth Month, Issa falls seriously ill with a fever.
* 1777, Age 15
In spring, he leaves for Edo (Tokyo). For the next ten years, nothing is known of him.
* 1787, Age 25
Eleventh Month, Issa appears in a record of Chikua's Nirokuan haiku school, under the name Ikyô.
* 1790, Age 28
Third Month, 13th day, Master Chikua dies.
* 1791, Age 29
Third Month, 26th day, Issa leaves Edo on a journey to visit haiku poets in Shimôsa Province. Fourth Month, 28th day, he returns home to Kashiwabara.

even the tree by the gate
in good health...
evening cool

* 1792, Age 30
Third Month, 25th day, Issa sets off on a journey to Shikoku Island.

when will we meet again?
I'm off to the will-o'-the-wisps
in the far mist

* 1793, Age 31
He visits Nagasaki.

Great Japan--
a foreigner also attends
the year's end service!

* 1794, Age 32
He journeys to various places on Kyûshû Island.
* 1795, Age 33
He visits Matsuyama City.

lying down
with a visiting butterfly...
outer hot spring

* 1796, Age 34
Wandering through Shikoku Island, he attends a full moon party at Matsuyama.

all in a row
on tatami mats...
moon gazing

* 1797, Age 35
In spring, Issa leaves Matsuyama City. From summer to autumn he stays at Fukuyama.
* 1801, Age 39
Third Month, he returns to his home village. His father dies.

I, who outlived him
in the dewy
field

* 1810, Age 48
Negotiations over his inheritance take place. From this year until 1818 Issa writes haiku in Shichiban nikki ("Seventh Diary").

the closer I get
to my village, the more pain...
wild roses

* 1812, Age 50
Eleventh Month, 14th day, he leaves Edo. Same month, 24th day, he returns to live in his native village of Kashiwabara.

well here it is
my final home?
five feet of snow

* 1813, Age 51
Second Month, he is living in Kashiwabara in a rented house. In autumn, his inheritance dispute finally settled, he moves into his family home.
* 1814, Age 52
Fourth Month, 11th day, he marries Kiku ("Chrysanthemum": age 28).

big chrysanthemum--
a never-say-die
demeanor

* 1816, Age 54
Fourth Month, 14th day, a son, Sentarô, is born. Fifth Month, 11th day, he dies.
* 1818, Age 56
Fifth Month, 4th day, a daughter, Sato, is born.
* 1819, Age 57
Sixth Month, 21st day, Sato dies of smallpox. From this year to 1821, Issa writes haiku in Hachiban nikki ("Eighth Diary").

this world
is a dewdrop world
yes... but...

* 1820, Age 58
Tenth Month, 5th day, his second son, Ishitarô, is born.
* 1821, Age 59
First Month, 11th day, Ishitarô suffocates while bundled on his mother's back.

why did the blooming
pink break?
why?

* 1822, Age 60
Third Month, 10th day, his third son, Konzaburô, is born. From this year until 1825, Issa writes haiku in Bunsei kuchô ("Bunsei Era Haiku Notebook").
* 1823, Age 61
Fifth Month, 12th day, his wife, Kiku, dies.

if only my nagging
companion were here...
such a moon!

Konzaburô dies in Twelfth Month that same year.
* 1824, Age 62
Fifth Month, 22nd day, he marries Yuki, a samurai's daughter (age 38). Eighth Month, 3rd day, they divorce.

after cutting
the snake gourd vine...
strangers

* 1826, Age 64
Eighth Month, he marries Yao (age 32). For the next two years he writes haiku in Bunsei ku - jû kuchô utsushi ("Bunsei Era 9th-10th Years Haiku Notebook").
* 1827, Age 65
Sixth Month, 1st day, a fire sweeps through Kashiwabara village, destroying Issa's house. Ninth Month, he moves into a grain barn on his property that survived the fire. Eleventh Month, 19th day, he dies. Equivalent Western date: January 5, 1828.

one dies out
two die out
lanterns for the dead

*In the traditional Japanese way of counting age, a child is one at birth and gains a year with each New Year's Day.

Wikipedia article

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tanka Poems

Tanka poems are short, lyrical poetry structured in 31 syllables arranged in groups of 5, 7, 5, 7 and 7, syllables, in a two-part form with the first part in 5, 7, 5, and the second part in 7 and 7. Even in the "Man'yoshu,"(the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) which is the Japan's oldest anthology of poetry, compiled in the eighth century, many of the poems were already composed in this form.

It is written in the preface of "Kokinwakashu,"(the Collection of Japanese Poems from Ancient and Modern Times) that "the Japanese poetry grows out of people's feelings to become leaves of words for everything in the world." Its main feature is that, in expressing the gamut of feelings in a simple form, it must contain--and this is an indispensable feature--a suggestiveness felt beyond the words.

Perhaps a requirement for an outstanding tanka poems is that it causes associations with a suggestiveness not expressed in words and a deep elegance. Today there are many lovers of this art form, tanka poetry.

Tanka Poems Example:

Saying Goodbye

Carefully I walk
Trying so hard to be brave
They all see my fear
Dark glasses cover their eyes
As mine flow over with tears

Friday, June 02, 2006

What is Haiku?

  • Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional japanese poetry.

  • Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The term hokku literally means "starting verse", and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known as haika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikai poetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain.
    Largely through the efforts of Masaoka Shiki, this independence was formally established in the 1890s through the creation of the term haiku. This new form of poetry was to be written, read and understood as an independent poem, complete in itself, rather than part of a longer chain.
    Strictly speaking, then, the history of haiku begins only in the last years of the 19th century. The famous verses of such Edo-period (1600-1868) masters as Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa are properly referred to as hokku and must be placed in the perspective of the history of haikai even though they are now generally read as independent haiku. In HAIKU for PEOPLE, both terms will be treated equally! The distinction between hokku and haiku can be handled
    by using the terms Classical Haiku and Modern Haiku.

    Modern Haiku.
    The history of the modern haiku dates from Masaoka Shiki's reform, begun in 1892, which established haiku as a new independent poetic form. Shiki's reform did not change two traditional elements of haiku: the division of 17 syllables into three groups of 5, 7, and 5 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal theme.
    Kawahigashi Hekigoto carried Shiki's reform further with two proposals:

    1. Haiku would be truer to reality if there were no center of interest in it.
    2. The importance of the poet's first impression, just as it was, of subjects taken
    from daily life, and of local colour to create freshness.