Dry Flowers


stepping out
to sunshine and flowers -
January break


a rose
is a rose is a
January rose

JANUARY, a kigo in the World Kigo Database






蝋梅や 遠くある父の 庭思う

first wax-forsythia -
reminding me of father's
far-away garden

. wintersweet -
looking for a right
on the wrong side

. december sunshine -
an early forsythia
streches its head


is a very good smelling waxlike strong flower on a shrub, blooming even if it is snowing outside, a very tough old girl. She grows right next to a red-flowering camellia in my garden, giving even the bleakest winter day some glow of color. Her smell does not transmit via internet, that is too bad.

. Wintersweet - Kigo in the Database .



Tsugaru Daruma


at a familiar face -
all these variations


Tsugaru Glas Daruma


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Cold Morning

a long cold night
coming to an end -
my circle of life


behind the graves
the sun gets ready -
another winter day


Today it was minus 6 centigrade, the coldest morning so far !

Look at the photos, from here to Nr. 24.

Thinking about the cold wave in Russia and Europe, this is still a pleasant time !


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cats cold


on a cold day
ear by ear


sneaking you
a little kiss :
dear mama san

Haiku kun and his mother, O-Tsu
They have taken over two boxes from the Christmas presents and love to lean the head on these side cushions. They spend the whole cold day here on the kitchen table, adding an extra warmth to our soup.

Cats in Paradise .. O-Tsu and Haiku-Kun


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the welcome path
leading to another world -
snow, snow, snow

snow in the temple
the Buddha smiles
in silence

graves in the snow -
to wait for nothing
to want for nothing


Thank you, Mark!
The photos are a curtesy of Mark Schumacher, who visited the temple in January 21, 2006.
Mark Schumacher: All about Buddha Statues

It was one of my favorites when I lived in Kamakura and I visited it very often during all seasons in Kita-Kamakura.
The graveyard in the slopes is very fascinating.

- quote -
Tokeiji is a small branch temple of the Engakuji school within the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Its head temple, the Engakuji Temple, stands just a few hundred meters away on the opposite side of the railway tracks.

Tokeiji was founded by the wife of the regent Hojo Tokimune in 1285 after Tokimune had died at a young age. Until the end of the Edo Period, the temple served as a shelter for women who suffered abuse by their husbands and sought a divorce.
An official divorce could be attained by staying at the temple for three years.
- source : japan-guide.com -

Reference : Tokeiji


Here is a special treat for the Haiku Friends

James W. Hackett at Tokeiji. September 11, 2002
The grave of R. H. Blyth is also to be found at Tokei-Ji.
Tokei-ji and Dr. Blyth

北鎌倉 東慶寺 2006年1月22日

Tokei-ji Photos


. kekkon 結婚 konrei 婚礼 marriage in Edo
and divorce - engiri .

Amulets to
. Enkiri, engiri 縁切り to cut a bond .  

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- #tokeiji #tokeijikamakura -


shoes in the wood


. WKD - - - Cultural Keywords of the World - - - .

September 2 -
kutsu no hi 靴の日 day of the shoes

The second (tsu)  day  of the ninth (ku) month.

This is a pun on the Japanese KU (9) and the English TWO - TSUU - 2 ツー【two】.

Ku 2 no Hi -
the things we learn
via haiku

. geta, Wooden Sandals, Clogs, 下駄 .
waraji, zoori, zôri 草履 straw sandals

sneakers poems by Don Baird
source : Sneaker-Ku


a pair of shoes
in a lone forest -
the Japanese soul

above photo and following article from
The Japan Times: Jan. 17, 2006 (C) All rights reserved


So, what the heck is that?

Dear Alice:
The day after Christmas I went with friends to the top of Jukkoku Pass in Shizuoka Prefecture, which offers fabulous views of Mount Fuji in one direction and the Izu Peninsula in the other. We decided to hike down rather than take the cable car and bus, but shortly after we began our descent we came across a pair of men's dress shoes lined up neatly by the side of the path, toes pointing toward the thick bamboo woods.

For some reason, I was afraid the shoes meant that a suicide had taken place, and I insisted that we take a picture and notify someone. My hunch was confirmed by how seriously the park office took my report. They sent up a search party and called the police, but I don't know what happened after that.
Can you find out?
And can you explain why Japanese take off their shoes before they commit suicide?
Laura B., Yokohama

Dear Laura,
Your photo affected me deeply so I called the park office right away. The man knew exactly what I was talking about. "It's quite a mystery," he said. "We never did find a body, and although we checked the parking lots for abandoned cars and the police checked missing-person reports, nothing has turned up that can be connected with the shoes."

I asked why park officials assumed a suicide when they got your report. "Nantonaku," was all he said, which in this case is probably best translated as "That just seemed to be what it was." When I commented that I had a hard time understanding why someone choose to take off their shoes before they die, especially in the woods in the middle of winter, there was a long pause. "Do you mean to say" (and I could hear the wonder in his voice) "that in your country suicides don't take off their shoes?"

No, and while we're making comparisons, let me interject that Japan's rate of suicide is the highest among all the G7 countries, and more than twice the rate of that in the United States. In 2004, 32,325 people in Japan took their own lives, more than four times the number who died in traffic accidents. Men are far more likely to commit suicide than women, but in some age groups suicide is the leading cause of death for both sexes. Suicide is a very serious problem in Japan, and one that affects those left behind too.

That's why on Dec. 26 -- the very day you found those shoes -- the government announced a plan to reduce the number of suicides to about 25,000 per year over the next decade, largely by increasing the availability of counseling.

But let's get back to the shoe question. A spokesperson at the National Police Agency confirmed it's common for suicides to remove their shoes, but far from universal. There have been some high-profile shoeless suicides, like film director Juzo Itami, who reportedly left his shoes behind when he jumped to his death in 1997. Do the police keep statistics on this? "No, there's no point. We factor that in when determining whether the death was a suicide [if the shoes were deliberately removed the death is deemed less likely to have been an accident or murder]. Other than that, it's irrelevant."

I asked several people why Japanese might feel the urge to remove their shoes before committing suicide. Some had expertise in the psychology of suicide, some did not. The theories included the following: so as not to carry dirt from this world into the next; to indicate that the death was a suicide; to increase the chances of the body being found; because that's what samurai used to do; and because it's what they've seen on TV (it's a cliche in television dramas to indicate a suicide by showing a pair of shoes on a cliff or the roof of a building).

The most neurotic rationale offered, by quite a few women who have obviously spent too many years lining up shoes in entranceways, was that it's better to remove one's shoes than have them come off during the fall and land in some embarrassingly untidy way.


Gabi :

Today in the newspaper, Japan Times, was a sentence that made me smile.The author was making enquiries about the habit of Japanese people taking off their shoes before committing suicide. Her Japanese partner re-questioned:

*Do you mean to say* (and I could hear the wonder in his voice) * that in your country suicides do not take off their shoes? *

Anyway, what seems plain and simple and way beyond needing explanation on one side of the globe, is quite a different matter in a different culture.

Never take anything for granted when it comes to a different culture. Asian cultures have a very different cultural and religious background than Europe/America.

The World Kigo Database is a small step in trying to explain the various cultural meanings of words, festivals and customs from all over the world.

The World Kigo Database


. Crosscultural Musings
by Gabi Greve





Buds in Winter

cold winter day
the buds of life
all around me

feeling blue
even without sun
a smiling face


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Red Camellia


一滴の 雪解け水や 赤椿

just one drop
of melted snow -
my red camellia

Look at it here.
Look at it here.



Hatsu Mode


初詣 解ける雪の 音ばかり

first shrine visit -
only the sound of
snow melting

和田北 一宮神社
Wadakita Hachiman Shrine (Ichi no Miya) 


The New Year, a Kigo

My New Year Greating Card

First Sunrise of 2005


Tensaku by Susumu Takiguchi

Good show, Gabi, jolly good show!

A wonderful haiku at the start of a New Year.
The feeling of that special sense that everything is (made) fresh and new, which has especially been strong in Japan, can be keenly felt in this poem. At the same time, the haiku paints a picture of a remote shrine or temple, most likely to be a small yama-dera (mountain temple), with no one to be seen except for the author and/or her party, and most importantly for the sound of the snow melting. It is uncommon in the sense that it is a far cry from the usual gaiety, colours, happy noises and throng of people which are associated with the kigo hatsu moode.

Instead, the haiku presents such moods as serenity, forlornness, remoteness, quietness or peace and partly as a result of this the focus is more on the nature of the scene than human activities (of practicing the first visit to the temple/shrine). These are obvious without having to see the photograph attached.

The haiku also betrays some degree of detachment with which the author presents herself to this kind of situation and also with which traditional haiku have been written. This may be because of the mixed feelings or position which the author may or may not have as she is a non-Japanese long-term resident in Japan with deep interest and involvement in and knowledge and experience of things Japanese but still retaining at least to some extent the perspective of an onlooker, visitor or observer. All these things are in the haiku and therefore successfully done, which therefore needs no TENSAKU.

In order not to make myself redundant, I will do some TENSAKU.

1) You sometimes use kogo (modern Japanese) and sometimes use bungo (old Japanese in which most of the Japanese haiku have been written except for 'tomato' or 'melon' haijin). tokeru is kogo. bakari is also a bungo word which is still used as kogo but sounds more kogo. Nomi is more like bungo but has been superseded by bakari. If you use bungo for this haiku it can make it even better. So, brush up your bungo a little bit more.

2) The kigasanari (overlapping kigo) of hatsu moode and the melting snow is a problem not because kigasanari is bad in all cases but because this is not a good case for kigasanari (sometimes it is positively a help, sometimes it has neutral effects). Melting snow is a spring kigo in the Japanese haiku but from all points of view this is a New Year haiku, hatsu moode being a very strong and specific kigo which cannot be a 'subordinate' or 'auxiliary' kigo.
No doubt it must have been true that the snow was melting and making the noise when the author went for hatsu moode. However, something must be done for this particular kigasanari, at least if the haiku were to be regarded to be in line with traditional Japanese haiku.

Otherwise, we should deviate a little bit from the traditional Japanese haiku and accept the melting snow as it happened in real life in this haiku. As everybody expects (deep) snow, especially in the mountain temple, it is the very fact that the snow is unusually and unseasonably melting that makes this haiku special and humorous, with a touch of the sense of irony felt by a cool intellectual person or an aloof 'etranger'.

This point reminds us the importance that sometimes we need to demonstrate what sort of school of thoughts each of us stands for some specific haiku which need such clarification. In other words, it is a boron (wild and wrong argument) to say that haiku is haiku and that there is no such thing (or should not be) as American haiku or Japanese haiku. It is high time we graduated such elementary stage of haiku-learning.

3) The ji-tarazu (shortage of ji-on 5-7-5) in the case of this haiku in chu-shichi middle 5, i.e. Line 2 (only 6 ji) sounds bad in the Japanese ear. Generally, ji-tarazu is worse than ji-amari (excess of ji-on).


hatsu moode
kiku wa yukige no
oto bakari


hatsu moode
haya yukidoke no
oto nomi zo


yukidoke no
oto nomi zo suru
hatsu moode


hatsu moode
toki naranu yuki
tokuru oto


toki naranu
yukige no oto ya
hatsu moode


yukidoke no
oto wo kiku mi ya
hatsu moode


kite mireba
yukige no oto ya
hatsu moode

Somehow, No. 7 is my favourite.



Thank you very much, Susumu sensei!

my revised version

yukidoke no
kasuka na oto ya
hatsu moode

雪解けの かすかな音や 初詣

Bravo, Gabi !
This one is altogether a much superior haiku and sounds very much like a GENUINE classical Japanese haiku, except for the problematic kigasanari which, in this case, would not be accepted by traditionalist Japanese haijin. Which is something of a problem which you are well advised to tackle.

Instead of appreciating the intricate meanings of the haiku which I have discussed with you, they are likely to ascribe this kigasanari to what they perceive to be your ignorance as many of them tend to think that non-Japanese people cannot possibly understand haiku.

I have established the World Haiku Club and started this world haiku movement in order to break such perception gaps and taboos and also in order to prove and encourage that haiku can also be understood, written and enjoyed in non-Japanese languages and by non-Japanese peoples.

Among many aims of WHC, this is one of the biggest. Gabi-san, in my opinion, you are one of the rarest and most important persons in terms of helping prove the point I have just mentioned. As such, once again in my humble opinion, it may be wiser if you would not give the Japanese haijin ready excuses for saying that foreigners would never understand haiku after all.

I see your point, but I still prefer to hang on to my village reality and keep the kigasanari (maybe Issa in a reborn lifetime? )

* slight wind in the pines* would not do it, neither a drop of the *hatsu moode* changed to a mountain temple, so I guess I will be the non-understanding gaijin on the surface and something else for insiders. You have explained it so well in your first tensaku !


I have this follow up question:

* This point reminds us the importance that sometimes we need to demonstrate what sort of school of thoughts each of us stands for some specific haiku which need such clarification.*

Well, to tell the truth, I have not much formal knowledge about the schools of thought of haiku, neither Japanese nor Amarican. Could you explain that a bit further?

Susumu :
There are millions of schools of thought in the Japanese haiku community and I dare say there must be as many schools of thought in the rest of the world as the number of haiku poets. Perhaps, we are using this English phrase 'school of thought' differently. WHC's own distinction of WHChaikuneoclassical, WHCshintaihaiku and WHCvanguard is, in my opinion, one of the simplest, most comprehensible, most flexible and most practical one, even if few may understand it.


yama no kami
hatsu moode ni
dare mo kon

山の神 初詣に 誰もこん

I will not do my TENSAKU on this, partly because many comments I made on another one will apply to this as well and also I have little time, except to say that once again 'ji-amari' in line 2 should be corrected and that the line 3 shows something interesting as follows.

As haiku is a literary form born and developed in a country of feudalistic, hierarchical and male-chauvinistic nature, it still retains quite a bit of characteristics emanating from that. 'kon' in line 3 is a colloquial use, which in itself is all right, especially in conversation, but in a written work of literature it seems as if it would be OK for a male author but not so OK for a female author (a question of male language and female language in Japanese). It does not sound 'lady-like' ! Now this can make your leveller-spirited blood boil as it can be taken to be sexist, politically incorrect and anachronistic etc.

Issa would have got away with it, as he was a genius of colloquial use of Japanese in haiku and he was a male. However, if you are showing this to the Japanese you should expect such reactions, even if they may never tell you!


............ revised 2nd line

yama no kami
hatsu moode ni wa
dare mo kon

I prefer to keep the KON, since all the o-baachan and o-neechan here in my mountain comunity speak like that, sort of old-fashioned medieval talk.
By the way,
I have just been researching about the HAGA zoku of Ohaga, look here if you have some extra time (all in Japanese)
. 大垪和と垪和族 .

As for the lady-like, Japanese usually take me for a male species, since I am tall and wear my hair short ... so not to worry ! :o)


Continue here:

Archives for December 2005

Archives for November 2005


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