Ginkoo, Haiku Walk


A Haiku Walk - Ginkoo 吟行

GIN  吟 means singing, praising, making a poem

KOO  行 means walking

The G of gin is pronounces like in "begin". The first beat is stressed, GINkoo.

For your fun :

銀行 ginkoo, the same sound, also means the bank where you put your silver, your money in, but that is only the same sound, a completely different word.

But you can still have a ginkoo at your local ginkoo :o)

And one more similar sound, but NOT related at all:

Gingko biloba tree 銀杏

For TENTORI, see below.

kukai 句会 haiku meeting


kigo for the New Year

hatsu kukai 初句会 first haiku meeting
(of the New Year)
..... shinnen kukai 新年句会(しんねんくかい) New Year Haiku Meeting
..... kukai hajime 句会始(くかいはじめ) beginning of the haiku meeting
hatsu unza 初運座(はつうんざ)first unza meeting (unza meetings started around 1820)
unza hajime 運座始(うんざはじめ)

hatsu hikoo 初披講(はつひこう)first loud reading of the haiku (in front of the meeting members)
hatsu kaishi 初懐紙(はつかいし)frist writing of a haiku (or other poem) on the thin Japanese folded kaishi paper

WKD : Kaishi 懐紙 folded paper, "pocket paper"

unza 運座 is a meeting of more than 10 people (the more the better) when each get an empty slip for each person present and has to write (say 10) haiku either about a kigo he likes or a given kigo. He then passes the slip to the next person who has to write the next haiku ... fast, on all 10.
Sometimes most difficult kigo where choosen just to test the knowledge of the poets present.

. . . . .

naka no dare ga okosu fuu-un hatsu kukai

who among the members
will start the storm ?
first haiku meeting

Hayashi Sho 林翔 (1914 - November 11, 2009)
Born in Nagano

fuu-un lit. wind and clouds, referring to a tense human situation.


What happens at a Ginkoo ?

A group of people walk along a certain area very attentively, make haiku about it and later exchange their haiku in a haiku meeting (kukai 句会).
You can set yourselves a seasonal or topical theme or make free haiku on the things you encounter on the way. A topical theme can for example include haiku with the color white or the emotion of surprize or something about laughter.

The walk usually occurs for two hours in the morning, then you have lunch together and after that, the competition, where everyone presents three haiku anonymously. All can choose their favortites among them and the six (or ten or any number you choose) haiku with the most points are announced.

You then discuss these haiku with the teacher (sensei 先生) present. He will give advise on judgement and improvement of some haiku, thus giving all a lesson. Only after thourough discussion will the persons be asked to step forth who made the winning haiku.

Remember, all the criticism, good and bad, is made before the author is announced. It is the haiku that counts, not the person who wrote it.

My Japanese haiku teacher in Kamakura always said:

Do NOT take pictures, do NOT sketch, but empty your mind and look deeply and not judgemental into anything you see on our walk. Imprint it in your heart and mind and then let a haiku flow out of it easily.

Take notes in your haiku book.

Write as many haiku as come to mind and select your best three later on for the competition.
While you compose your haiku, do not think about the good points you might win afterwards (tentori haiku).

Try to use all your senses. Smell the place, listen to the place, feel the things around there.

Ginkoo can show you how the same people in the same place will find completely different things to SING about afterwards. It is a great community activity.


Here is a text I wrote a while ago:

a Haiku meeting (kukai 句会) in Japan are usually meetings in the flesh!

Members of a Haiku Group come together with our teacher *sensei*, usually after a *ginkoo*, a walk for some time to a special place where we get an inspiration for our haiku. Some also prepare haiku in advance. But it is always part of the fun to see where the others put their attention when writing about the same place of experience. It sharpens your eyes for detail immensely to do that.

Then the haiku are written on anonymous slips of paper, so you do not know whose is whose and you select three or five of your favorites. Each member reads his haiku selection aloud and makes a little comment about it. Selecting haiku from so many is a good experience too in judgeing a good haiku.
The haiku with the most counts are then announced and discussed, and even corrected by the teacher.

This is the best part, since we do not yet know WHO we are criticizing and everybody tries to help improve the haiku at hand.
Afterwards, the author tells us his name and then only do we know who wrote that one.
Therefore, discussion is a big part of our Japanese kukai.

If it is a big group, the results may be published in the groups monthly magazine, otherwise we gather for the sheer fun of being togehter with our friends and discuss our beloved common interest, Japanese haiku.



Here are some descriptions from online sources:

Charnwood Arts was delighted to host a visit from Susumu Takiguchi - Chair of the World Haiku Club and Debi Bender, Editor in Chief of the World Haiku Rweview in September 2001. (Susumu sensei is on the right.)

Below Debi gives a brief account of their visit :

"The last of the three major events of World Haiku Autumn Festival, WHC members from different parts of the world participated in this World-Wide Ginko (haiku walk) by sending their poems to Paul Conneally, the organiser.

Simultaneously, in Loughborough, north of Leicester, England, members of WHC and their families enjoyed a country walk in the nearby wood at Beacon Hill. The leaves are just beginning to turn red and yellow, and mushrooms and wild berries added to the autumnal splendour.

On the following day, Susumu and myself were invited to select haiku poems written by local and international poets for Charnwood Arts miniWords 2001 haiku competition. Kevin Ryan of Charnwood Arts was the organiser of the competition, which attracted a great number of entries.

The two-day event proved to be a happy collaboration between a local arts organisation and WHC and at the same time between different local poets across the world.


Sunday morning was dedicated to "doing haiku."
The weather cooperated and the students and guests enjoyed a haiku walk around campus and to the nearby Fairview Park which resulted in several excellent haiku for the kukai competition.


Ron Moss

Join me on a Ginko [a haiku walk] in Cradle Mountain National Park, Australia, a World Heritage Site.
The 131, 920 hectare park, located in Tasmania, is the last great temperate wilderness remaining in Australia and one of the last remaining in the world. I visited the park in Autumn when the native deciduous beech (nothofagus gunnii or "fagus") puts on its colorful display. This web site contains my impressions shared through photographs coupled with haiku poetry.

..... Haiku Walk in the Koya Temple, Gabi Greve

..... Haiku Walk in Guilin, China, Gabi Greve


Tentori 点取り ... writing haiku to get good points

quote from
Basho: The Complete Haiku: by Jane Reichold

" Everywhere in this city I see people writing poetry to try to win prizes or notoriety. You can imagine what they write. Anything I might say to them would no doubt end in harsh words, so I pretend not to see or hear them."

Basho refused to attend any cherry blossom parties, saying that "places famous for cherry blossoms are filled with fame-seekers who know nothing better than screaming and making noise."


Tentori Haiku
, a haiku written with the sole purpose of getting good marks with a certain judge of haiku.
Once you know the style of this judge, you can adjust your haiku so that he will like it and give it good marks during a haiku meeting (kukai).

This is a way of composing haiku, that old Basho was also prone to.
the haiku that became world famous are mostly the ones Basho wrote just for the fun of it, just for himself and his students, just like that, without thinking of any points to win or loose.

ten 点 ... means point, as you get points in school for your homework or in a haiku contest for your poems.
tori 取り... is the verb ending form coming from TORU 取る, to take, to get.

so, the meaning is to .. get (good) points ... good is implied in the connection of this , since, who would make an effort in getting BAD points?

Once a friend asked me: can you teach me haiku? so I said YES.
Anther friend asked me: can you teach me haiku that will be accepted in the xxx magazine for publication? so I said NO. This would be to promote .. tentori haiku ... and I am not into this at all.

One other example comes to mind.

When I studied Japanese archery, the sensei (teacher, guru) would like to say:

If you speculate about hitting the target, you will surely miss it.
If you do not speculate about hitting, the arrow will hit the target.
If you hit the target without the proper attitude, your hit means nothing and the teacher will scold you angrily for wasting a precious moment.

The pracitce of Archery is not so much about hitting the target ... at least what I learned from my sensei. It is not even very much about what you do in the doojoo, the hall for practise. After all, you are there only for a few hours during the week.

The most important part is when you leave the doojoo and have no bow and arrow. Then you have to practise in real life ! Once you master this art ...
the enemy within is mastered.

Read more about my musings here: Tentori haiku

QUOTE: Tentori haiku

Some might argue that entering contests and making a name for yourself as a published poet is a good thing, giving others a chance to read your haiku and come to know your poetry. Thus it would provide you with a way to share your poetry with many kindred hearts.
Contests aren't
'bad' in themselves.

More of my thoughts about
Sensei, a haiku teacher


Quoting Jane Reichhold

When you have a kukai (or a contest judged by the contestants) you have an even wider range of factors as to what constitutes an ideal haiku because you will have people new to haiku along with a few more experienced persons. In any contest, often the poems with human factors in them do win because they more easily touch our hearts and thus, stick in the memory long enough to rise about the rest of the entries. Put in a pitiful cat or dog and your chances are even better.

The sponsor of a contest may set forth certain aspects for the contest but the judges may disregard these and choose what they like and not follow the rules the contestants were given. Also, it is not unknown in large contests for the sponsors to make final judgments, not on the quality of the work, but in order to give the prizes to certain people for the work they have done in the haiku community, to encourage persons where haiku is new, or to payback for old favors.

Even contests with several judges it is too often is not about excellence but who the winner is. If Jack Kerouac and Joe Blow are in a contest, the “wise” sponsor would give the first prize to Kerouac knowing that his fame would then rub-off on the contest and gain more publicity and more entries in the following year than poor Joe’s better haiku would bring. This is a good reason for entering kukai – at least you know what is pleasing to your fellow writers. I did not say they would pick the most excellent poem – I said they would pick what is most pleasing to them.

MORE is here:
© Jane Reichhold


Heijooshin, the Even Mind 平常心

When one person criticizes your haiku, you feel upset!
When one person prizes your haiku, you feel happy!

If you send me two haiku, one about a dog and one about a cat, I will surely prize the one with the cat, because I love cats (my tomcat is even called "Haiku kun").
Does that realy mean your DOG haiku was bad ?

As a teacher, one tends to praize a beginner a lot, in order not to discourage him, but rather stick to a sensei who kicks you in the shin than one who pats your back too much.

Try to develope an "even mind", heijooshin 平常心, where positive or negative remarks do not affect you emotionally
and only use them to improve your work.
The thought of getting published in a magazine should not be the ultimate goal of your writing haiku. Try writing haiku with the correct attitude and peace of mind.

Read a bit about Archery and the Unmoved Mind
(Daruma Library)
- www.heijoshin.com -

. heijooshin 平常心 Heijoshin, the even mind and koan .


......................... Some of my Haiku Theory

One Haiku, two Ideas The Basics

English Spelling and Punctuation

One-Line Haiku : three sections, three lines

THEORY : Counting on your fingers: 5-7-5 Cultural Differences

THEORY : Why 5-7-5 ? or rather, WHY NOT in English!

Japanese Spelling and the Hepburn System Romaji

My complete Haiku Theory ARCHIVES !!!!!

Teaching Haiku to Children / also usuful for adults


taking a walk
with my haiku friends -
winter in Wall Street

. Gabi Greve, January 2012 .


My Haiku Theory Archives !



1 comment:

Gen said...

sunday's walk
with fresh impressions
to haiku book