Monday, January 26, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #129, Sogi's 5th haiku

Dear haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a sad idea today I present you all our last haiku by our featured haiku-poet Iio Sogi (1424-1502) a pre-Basho haiku-poet and renga master. A lot of his haiku were once "hokku" (starting verse for a renga), but there aren't a lot of haiku preserved of him. I had a very small choice. Today's haiku by Sogi is the "hokku" of a "Dokugin", a solo-renga, titled "Sogi Alone" written by, as the title shows you, Iio Sogi. I had never heard of this "Dokugin", but I think it's great discovery, but were does that bring me with my "Soliloquy no Renga", which I presented as a new idea ...?

Well ... that doesn't matter in this CD-Special it's all about haiku by Iio Sogi and this one is just wonderful and I hope it will inspire you all to write an all new haiku in the same sense, tone and spirit as the one I gave:

Now that they end
There is no flower that can compare
With cherry blossoms

© Iio Sogi

And this is my haiku which I wrote inspired on this one by Sogi:

Ah! those cherry blossoms
every where I look their beauty amazes me again -
finally spring is here

© Chèvrefeuille

Not as strong as I had hoped, but it's in my opinion close to the one by Sogi.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 29th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, a new Haiku Writing Techniques episode, later on. For now .... have fun, be inspired and share.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

carpe Diem Time Glass #18,

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I have had a wonderful weekend and I hope you all too have had a great weekend. It's Sunday again so time for a new episode of our time challenging feature "Time-Glass" in which the goal is to respond on a given prompt and an image with an all new haiku within 24 hours.

This time I have a Time Glass episode "with a twist", I only give you an image, but you have to write/compose a haiku in which there are more than one senses found. For example you write a haiku in which you describe something you see and hear.

Credits: landscape with balloons
What a beautiful photo don't you think? I hope it will inspire you to write an all new haiku within 24 hours. This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 26th 7.00 PM (CET) ... So you have just 24 hours to respond. Have fun! Be inspired and share ...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Carpe Diem's "Little Creatures" #16, Daisies

!! This is the CD Little Creatures episode of Saturday January 24th !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It my pleasure to present a new episode of our "Little Creatures" feature inwhich the little creatures of nature are playing the leading role. This time I have chosen for a beautiful little flower, the Daisy. And I love to tell you all a little bit more about this nice sweet little flower. There is so much to tell about Daisies so let's go:
If you’re thinking about white daisies, there’s more to daisies than that.  They can also be bright and sunny yellow, purple, pink, red, and orange. Daisies look like cartwheels with petals as spokes.  In other ways, it also looks like a star that’s shining brightly.Even if daisies are a very common name for this flower, it’s also known in many other names.  Names like ox eye, horse gowan, moon penny, poverty weed and dog blow all pertain to the daisy.
Daisies are not poisonous.  In fact, a lot of people add daisy leaves to their bowl of fresh garden salad.

Victorian Interpretation:  Daisies have many different meanings attached to them.  In the Victorian age, it meant innocence, purity, and loyal love.  It also means that you’ll keep someone’s secret.  You’re saying that “I vow never to tell anyone” - when you give someone a daisy.
Superstitions:  Based on Scottish lore, daisies were referred to as gools.  For every farmer who owns a wheat field, they have an employee called the gool rider.  They had the task of removing the daisies from the fields.  For these farmers, if a big crop of daisies was found in your field, you had to pay a fine in the form of a castrated ram.
For the Celts, daisies were thought to be the spirits of children who died when they were born.  It’s God’s way of cheering them up when He created the daisies and sprinkled them on the earth.  This has a big connection to daisies symbolizing innocence.
What's the meaning of Daisies: 
Daisies are flowers that mean different things to different people.  It can mean cheerfulness particularly for the yellow colored blossoms and it can mean youthful beauty and gentleness.  Some people look at the daisy to be a symbol of good luck.  However, the most popular meanings attached to the daisy are - loyal love, innocence and purity.  It’s also a taken to convey the message – “I’ll never tell”.Apart from the Celtic legend that daisies were the spirits of children, the symbol of innocence also comes from the story about a dryad who oversaw meadows, forests and pastures.  One of the nymphs, Belides danced around with her nymph sister when the god of the orchards, Vertumnus saw her.  To make sure that she escapes his attentions, she turned herself into a daisy thus preserving her innocence.In terms of loyal love, daisies are used by women particularly in the Victorian age to see which suitor loves them the most.  By picking on the flower’s petals, a woman would know who loves her and who does not.
I found a few wonderful haiku on Daisies:

sitting silent still
low to earth, resting old bones
the daisies still grow.

© Caroline Brown
Or what do you think of this one:

A misty light fog
hiding spring daisies in bloom
lifts with dawns sunrise

© Travis Morgan

And I found another nicely written haiku with Daisies as theme:

poppies and Daisies
among the swaying wheat sheaves
a field mouse nibbles

All wonderful haiku inspired on Daisies. Here are a few I wrote myself:

around the mansion
daisies standing strong together
after the storm

miracles happen
in the tiniest things
daisies blooming

thousand daisies
around the farmer's house -
lowing of a cow
© Chèvrefeuille

The goal of this Little Creatures feature is to write an all new haiku inspired on the theme. The haiku can be classical or non-classical that's up to you. For this episode I have an extra rule ... you have to write a eight (\8) stanza renga with a twist. What does that mean "with a twist" you have to follow the following "line-structure" 3 lines 2 lines 3 lines 2 lines 2 lines 3 lines 2 lines 3 lines, but of course this is not an obligation. Feel free and inspired.

This "Little Creatures" episode is open for your submissions Saturday January 24th at noon (CET) and will remain open until January 31st at noon (CET).

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #70,

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Another week has gone. Time flies ... January 2015 is closing in to it's end and we have already forgotten the last year ... we are looking forward to the upcoming of spring, but here in The Netherlands it has finally become winter with strong frost in the nights and frost at day ... it's really cold today here, but .... well it's winter ...

This week's Tan Renga Challenge starts with a haiku written by myself and I hope it will inspire you enough to write the second stanza towards it. The second stanza has two lines of approximately 7 syllables each. The second stanza is a continuation or completion of the images in the first stanza.

Here is the first stanza:

sweet perfume
mingles with the sound of rain -
a dog barks

© Chèvrefeuille

The goal is to write a second stanza towards it by associating on the images in this haiku, or hokku (starting verse of Tan Renga).

I am looking forward to your completions or continuations. This Tan Renga Challenge is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Friday January 30th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Carpe Diem #654, Sheperd's Purse (Nazuna); Carpe Diem #655, First Calligraphy (Kakizome); Carpe Diem #656 Isle Of The Blessed (Hoorai)

!! This is a extra long post in which I will publish THREE prompts each with it's OWN LINKING WIDGET, because I take a weekend off as you could have read in our last Carpe Diem Extra !!

Carpe Diem #654, Sheperd's Purse (Nazuna)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's a bit strange to prepare this post, because I haven't done this earlier, taking a weekend off, but I am in need of a little bit rest ... so I have chosen to take a weekend off. Of course I will not leave you without the prompts from our prompt-list for these days, so in this post I will publish three prompts (each with it's own linking widget). And the first prompt is Sheperd's Purse (Nazuna) it's one of the seven sacred herbs which are use the make a porridge around New Year.

Credits: Sheperd's Purse (Nazuna)
Sheperd's Purse is a little herb which flowers whit little white flowers and it's leaves look like a little purse that's why it's called Sheperd's Purse. It's a fragile little herb and mostly it's overlooked, but (as we will see) it came under the attention of Matsuo Basho once and he wrote a nice haiku about it. This haiku is a kind of tribute to the beauty of Sheperd's Purse and it shows us how we have to look at nature (as haiku-poets). Even the little creatures/creations are worth writing a haiku about ... as we all know from our "Little Creatures" feature.

furu hata ya nazuna hana saku kakine kana

if you look closely
a Sheperd's Purse flowering
underneath the hedge

© Matsuo Basho (1686)

Really a beautiful haiku if I may say so, because it's really a tribute to the beauty of Sheperd's Purse. To write a haiku about it ... will not be easy.

"look granddad"
my granddaughter shows me Sheperd's Purse
"a money-purse".

© Chèvrefeuille

A nice one ... This part of this episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 26th at noon (CET). Have fun! Come on let us go further to our next part of this post, First Calligraphy (Kakizome).


Carpe Diem #655, First Calligraphy (Kakizome)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I remember that I have mentioned this tradition of writing the first calligraphy earlier here at CDHK, but I can't really say when that was, but it doesn't matter (at least not to me) to do a prompt several times. As I told you in one of the earlier posts of this month the kigo for New Year (the fifth season) are for the main part all things which are done for the very first time.
The First Calligraphy (Kakizome) is also such a tradition. I have found a few nice haiku by Issa on this first calligraphy which most times was written in the mud with a cane, and of course later on paper. Every haiku written as the first haiku of the New Year is special, but the ones I love to share here by Issa are really beautiful.

kakichin no mikan mii mii kissho kana

looking, looking
at the mandarin orange...
year's first calligraphy

tsui-tsui to bô wo hiite mo kissho kana

swish, swish
writing with my cane...
year's first calligraphy

ko-dakara ga bô wo hiite mo kissho kana

the treasured child
writes with a cane...
year's first calligraphy

© Kobayashi Issa

calligraphed haiku

In ancient Japanese times it was a great honor to write the first calligraphy so that third haiku is very special, because of the fact that this first calligraphy is done by a child, a treasured child. Maybe one of his own children, who sadly all lost their life at a young age.

I haven't really written a haiku with this kigo in it, but I love to share my "first calligraphy's" of 2013, 2014 and 2015 here with you all:

first day of year
bad spirits and ghost defeated
royal fireworks

© Chèvrefeuille (January 1st, 2013)

lives collide
Inner Fire burns
in the Aleph

© Chèvrefeuille (January 1st, 2014)

looking back
2014 has passed away
nice thoughts remain

© Chèvrefeuille (January 1st, 2015)

A nice tradition I think, maybe I have to create an anthology of the first calligraphy's (first haiku) of our haiku family here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.
This part of this episode is open for your submissions Saturday January 24 at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 27th at noon). Have fun! Now ... let us go on to the last (third) part of this episode, Isle of the Blessed (Hoorai).


Carpe Diem #656, Isle of the Blessed (Hoorai)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Here it is our third part of this weekend-post, because I take a weekend off. It's not easy to write a post about this New Year kigo, because it's so specific for Japan, but well I have chosen to use it so I have to write it.

This also is such a kigo which looks strange as a kigo for New Year. What has Isle of the Blessed (Hoorai) to do with New Year? I will try to explain that.

Isle of the Blessed is the Japanese equivalent of the Western Elysian Fields or Heavens. In myth and legend, heavenly abodes are abundant. There is the Isle of Avalon where King Arthur still sleeps; the Isle of the Blessed ruled over by the giant Cronos; or the Elysium Fields, a place of incomparable beauty where virtuous Romans went after death. For the ancient Celts, there was the Otherworld, a place hidden from human eyes by a magical mist and visible on only one day of the year, the Feast of Samhain (November l), when the gates to both worlds were open and the souls of the dead were said to roam the earth.
Then, of course, there is the Eden story, the Paradise lost by man with the fall from grace of the first two humans, Adam and Eve. This is a concept shared by the world’s three great monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — though it, too, is subject to much variation.
Credits: Isle of the Blessed (Hoorai)
Interestingly, the most ancient of human civilisations, the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian, did not believe in the existence of either an afterlife or a heaven. In these technically advanced societies, humans were believed doomed to remain forever in the “house of dust” or darkness, which “none who enters ever leaves”. In this house, the inhabitants find that “soil is their sustenance” and “clay their food” where, clad in bird feathers, they see no light but “dwell in darkness”.
Why is this "Isle of the Blessed" a New Year kigo? I think this had to do with remembering the ones who passed away in the last year, a kind of Halloween, but than on January 1st. Are we not all doing that as New Year's Eve is there? Looking back to what had happened in the last year? And look forward into the future. What a feeling to know that there will be an afterlife ...

I found a nice haiku on "Isle of the Blessed" composed by Narayanan Raghunathan (co-founder of Wonder Haiku Worlds):

I enter the Isle of
the Blessed - a distant
flute plays Bhairavi

© Narayanan Raghunathan

I wasn't inspired enough to write a haiku myself about this "Isle of the Blessed", but I sought through my archive and found another nice haiku about a kind of "Blessed Isle", Holy Isle. Holy Isle is a Buddhist Isle at the Northern waters of the United Kingdom.

painted on rocks
the devote Buddhist monk
Holy Isle

Holy Isle
the Kagyan Tradition
painted on rocks

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you did like this "Triple-episode" and remember every part of this post has it's own Linking Widget. This last part is open for your submissions Sunday January 25th at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 28th at noon (CET). Well ... have fun! I will publish our new episode, our last haiku by Sogi, our featured haiku-poet, later on.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Carpe Diem #653, Yuzuriha

!! This post will be published earlier, because I am in the nightshift !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I told in episode 652 I ran into several "strange" kigo and today such a kigo is our prompt. Today our prompt is Yuzuriha (or Daphniphyllum Macropodum)
Yuzuriha is a plant with long broaded evergreen leaves and it was very common in ancient Japan to use it as an ornament for New Year to celebrate the good relationship of old and new generations . There is no English-name for it. Here is a small description of this plant:

Daphniphyllum macropodum is a shrub or small tree found in China, Japan and Korea. Like all species in the genus Daphniphyllum, D. macropodum is dioecious, that is male and female flowers are borne on different plants. The timber is used in China in construction and furniture making. It is grown as an ornamental plant, chiefly for its foliage.
Credits: Yuzuriha (in it's habitat)
As I look at this photo of Yuzuriha it looks somewhat similar with the rhododendron in my backyard, but as you can see in our next photo it's blossoms/flowers are looking very different than the blossom/flowers of the rhododendron.
Credits: Yuzuriha flowers (cultivated)
It's a very beautiful plant and those flowers/blossoms are really gorgeous. And as you can see at it's "construction" than you can understand the meaning of Yuzuriha, to celebrate the good relationship of old and new generations, it's very complexed. 
I have sought for an example of haiku with this Yuzuriha in it, but I couldn't find one, so I have to write one myself with this New Year kigo:

yuzuriha blooms
together with my kids and grandkids
picking the flowers

celebrating New Year
an Ikebana piece on the table
adoring it's beauty

© Chèvrefeuille

Not as strong as I had hoped, but I think these haiku are nice examples of this Yuzuriha. Yuzuriha must be an awesome flower to use in an Ikebana piece as you look at the bright green leaves and the complexity of it's flowers. Just one branch with flowers is already gorgeous.
Credits: Ikebana piece (sadly without yuzuriha) for New Year
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 25th at noon.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Carpe Diem #652, Pheasant's Eye (Fukujusoo)

!! I publish this new episode earlier than I normally do, because I am in the nightshift !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I was preparing the prompt-list for this month I ran into several classical kigo for (the fifth season) New Year with very rare/strange things. On of them was our prompt for today, Pheasant's Eye (Fukujusoo), I even thought for a while that it was a joke or something, but it really is a kigo for New Year and I will try to explain it to you.

It turned out to be a flower which was special for New Year. Pheasant's eye, fukujusō, New Year's Day Plant. It grows in many mountainous areas of Japan. It begins to show new leaves in February or March and flowers with small bright yellow blossoms of 10 to 20 petals with a strong glow. Since the flowering time fell in the New Year season according to the lunar calendar, it was used as a decoration for the New Year, and so it came known as Pheasant's Eye or New Year's Day plant. Even now some farmers grow it especially to flower for the First of January.

In the Edo period, it was already artificially grown and sold in small pots, with petals of white, cream and red flowers, even double-petals. The name actually means : Plant of good fortune and long life, "prosperity grass" or "longevity grass", so it was very auspicious for the New Year celebrations.
Pheasant's Eye (Fukujusoo)
And I found a few really beautiful haiku with this wonderful Pheasant's Eye as theme. Here they are:

ôyuki o kabutte tatsu ya fukuju kusa

covered by the big snow
yet they stand...
New Year's grasses
© Issa

asahi sasu rooshi ga ie ya fukujusoo

morning sunshine
on the old Zen teacher's home -
Pheasant's eye in bloom

© Buson

jimen kara sora ga hajimaru fujukusoo

from the earth
the sky begins ...
Pheasant's eye

© Miyasaka Shizuo (1937 - )

hi no ataru mado no shooshi ya fukujusoo

the sun shines bright
on the window panes ...
Pheasant's eye
© Matsui Kafuu (1879 - 1959)
All great haiku I think. I especially the one by Miyasaka Shizou, because of it's image and the spiritual meaning of it as I look at the "meaning" of Pheasant's Eye (good fortune and long life). It will not be an easy task to write/compose an all new haiku for today's prompt, but ... yes you are right I have to try ... (smiles).
Credits: Pheasnat's Eye (Fukujusoo)

Pheasant on the run
as the first day of the year is celebrated -
colorful fireworks

© Chèvrefeuille

And I have tried to write a classical haiku following the classical rules, but I can not get that third line with it's 5 syllables, so maybe you can help me with that ...

Pheasant's Eye reflects
looks at it's beauty in the mirror -
she arranges her corsage

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 24th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, Yuzuriha, later on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Carpe Diem's Haiku Writing Techniques #3, Repetition & Carpe Diem Special #128, Sogi's 4th haiku

!! I will publish this episode earlier because I am in the nightshift. This is a DOUBLE episode, each part has it's own linking widget !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to present to you our third episode of our Haiku Writing Techniques feature here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I love to tell you something more about repetition, repeating words and sounds, in haiku. I think this episode is a nice follow-up of our 2nd episode "onomatopoeia" of last week.

Among all poetical forms the haiku is the very soul of brevity. In no more than three lines it contains a maximum of seventeen syllables, often fewer. Every word, every break counts. Yet there are haiku that have space for repetition within this narrow frame. How then is this achieved?It goes without saying that in order to work it must be done with considerable skill, or sensitivity. It may use for quite different poetical reasons, however. By its very element of surprise repetition of a word or part of a phrase may make the readers pay greater attention. They may feel that in order to be understood the text as it stands calls for reading aloud. Now recitation of poetry is an excellent practice which has been neglected in these years of silent reading due to general literacy. A poem worth reading is worth reciting, and will gain by it. Often the word which is repeated changes its sense to some degree. This will encourage the reader to savor its complete range of meaning. This effect is particularly striking when different forms of the same verb are used.A word may create a definite anticipation that is then twisted to a surprise. Some haiku are written in an elusive style which it would be difficult to render into exact prose. By the repetition of words the reader is encouraged to shift them around and consider various possible interpretations of the scene. In other haiku the text may be perfectly clear and the repetition will serve as an exclamation, an expression of the sense of wonder. A scene will be compressed. A single word is used where normally a full description would be needed.The repetition will show the reader the value of the word that has been chosen and the richness of meaning within its range. Repetition can increase the impact of a haiku.
One of the most well-known haiku in which repetition is very clear is the following by Matsuo Basho. He wrote this haiku as he saw Matsushima:

Ah! Matsushima!

© Basho (?)

It is said that this haiku was indeed written by Basho as he saw Matsushima, but in his “Narrow Road to the Deep North” he writes about Matsushima the following: “I couldn’t write a haiku as I saw Matsushima’s beauty, it was to overwhelming”. So who did wrote that haiku? There are sources who say that it was written by a monk named Tahara Bo. Well it doesn’t matter really, because it’s a wonderful haiku and it shows how you can use repetition in your haiku to show the beauty of something.
There are several haiku written in which "repetition" is used and I have found a few of them. I found for example a lot of haiku with repetition written by Kobayashi Issa who was the master of repetition:

kyoo mo kyoo mo onaji yama mite haru no ame

today too, today too
I see the same old mountain ...
rain in spring 

nake yo nake yo oya nashi suzume otonashiki

sing, sing!
orphan sparrow...
so quiet

sakura sakura to utawareshi oiki kana

"Cherry blossoms! Cherry blossoms!"
they sang
under this old tree

kuyo-kuyo to sawagu na asu wa asu no tsuyu

don't complain
so much - tomorrow brings
tomorrow's drew drops

na-batake ya hyoi hyoi hyoi ya kiku no hana

canola field --
a chrysanthemum, another
and another

© Kobayashi Issa

And I found a few haiku by others, but with a strong repetition in it. Repetition can increase the beauty of haiku, but I think you don't have to over do it. Repetition can have a function in your haiku (or tanka). It can make an emotion stronger or a painted image even more beautiful ... repetition ... well try it sometimes.

tsubame tsubame doro ga suki naru tsubame kana

Swallows, oh, swallows,
how much you like the mud!
you swallows!

© Hosomi Ayako (19071997)

snow is falling
on millions of homes
snow is falling

© Taro Kunugi, Japan (2011)

the river

the river makes
of the moon 

© Jim Kacian (1996) 

Of course I had to try it myself and I have sought through my archive to find a few examples of "repetition" ... here they are:

cherry blossoms fall
the spring breeze rustles through the leaves
cherry blossoms fall

one summer morning
the sound of a dog barking
and barking again

A last one to conclude this episode of our Haiku Writing Techniques:

children's laughter
I enjoy their laughter whole day long
laughing children

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you did like this episode of our Haiku Writing Techniques and I hope it will inspire you all to write all new haiku in which you use this "repetition". Have fun!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, Pheasant's Eye (Fukujusoo), later on.


CARPE DIEM SPECIAL #128, Sogi's 4th haiku "life in this world "

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to present to you our 4th haiku by Iio Sogi (1424-1502) our featured haiku-poet of this month. We have had already three wonderful haiku written by him and today I love to share another nice haiku by Sogi with you all.

yo ni furu mo sara ni shigure no yadori kana

life in this world
just like a temporary shelter
from a winter shower

© Iio Sogi (1424-1502)

It's a very unique haiku I think, but it's so true what Sogi is saying here. Life is just like a temporary shelter, life is short like the snow ... enjoy life to the fullest I would say ... and that's what Sogi says in this haiku.

The goal of this CD-Special is to write/compose an all new haiku inspired on the one by Sogi and try to touch his sense, tone and spirit ... not an easy task I know, but I think it's a great way to learn how you can improve your haiku skills.

in just one heart beat
the sunlight breaks through the mist
revealing the meadow

© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... not as good as I had hoped, but well ... I like this haiku ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Pheasant's Eye (Fukujusoo), later on. For now ... have fun!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Carpe Diem #651, Picking Young Greens (wakanatsumi)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As we are closing in to the end of January our New Year kigo will be more looking like Spring kigo as we have today Picking Young Greens (wakanatsumi) for prompt than we see that spring is coming closer. In this kigo with the "young greens" are meant the seven sacred herbs as we have seen in earlier posts here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. 
Today it's all about Jinjitsu (January 7th) on this date there is the Festival of Seven Herbs or Nanakusa no sekku on which the Japanese cook a special seven-herb rice porridge. 
The Festival of Seven Herbs or Nanakusa no sekku is the long-standing Japanese custom of eating seven-herb rice porridge (nanakusa-gayu) on January 7 (Jinjitsu).

Credits: Nanakusa-gayu
On the morning of January 7, or the night before, people place the nanakusa, rice scoop, and/or wooden pestle on the cutting board and, facing the good-luck direction, chant "Before the birds of the continent (China) fly to Japan, let's get nanakusa" while cutting the herbs into pieces. The chant may vary.

The seventh of the first month has been an important Japanese festival since ancient times. The custom of eating nanakusa-gayu on this day, to bring longevity and health, developed in Japan from a similar ancient Chinese custom, intended to ward off evil. Since there is little green at that time of the year, the young green herbs bring color to the table and eating them suits the spirit of the New Year.

This is the song mentioned above: 

tōdo no tori to,
nihon no tori to,
wataranu saki ni,
nanakusa nazuna,
te ni tsumi-ire te,
kōshitochō to naru

China-land's birds and
Japanese birds,
earlier than bring on their coming,
seven species wild herb,
I pluck them to the hand and
it becomes Neck, Turtle Beak, Dipper and Extended Net

By the way "Neck", "Turtle Beak", "Dipper" and "Extended Net" are all Chinese constellations.

I found a nice haiku written by Narayanan Raghunathan (co-founder of Wonder Haiku Worlds) with this prompt in it:

cool dawn -
an old Indian picking
young greens

© Narayanan Raghunathan

I found a nice Waka written by Emperor Koko Tennoo

It is for your sake
That I walk the fields in spring,
Gathering green herbs,
While my garment's hanging sleeves
Are speckled with falling snow.

© Emperor Koko Tennoo

Credits: Chickweed, one of the Seven Sacred Herbs
And I have found a nice trio of haiku written by Kobayashi Issa with wakanatsumi as theme:

kusa-tsumi no kobushi no mae no irihi kana

sun sinking
just beyond the fist
of the herb picker

kake-nabe mo asahi sasunari kore mo haru

dawn sun shining
even on my chipped pot --
this, too, New Year's

waga haru ya tadon hitotsu ni kona ichiha

my New Year's --
one ball of charcoal
a bunch of stunted greens

© Issa

And here is my attempt to write a haiku inspired on this prompt:

late at night
picking young greens in the kitchen garden -
the almost full moon

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... a nice post I think. This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 22nd at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, a new episode of our special feature on Haiku Writing Techniques, later on.

Carpe Diem Ask Jane #8, Is tanka another name for waka or are these two different forms?

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Not so long ago Gillena emailed a question for Jane and with this episode of "Ask Jane" I present that question by Gillena. By the way Jane has become 78 last Saturday and I have send her our love and congratulations with her birthday.

Waka (literally "Japanese poem") or Yamato uta is a genre of classical Japanese verse and one of the major genres of Japanese literature. The term was coined during the Heian period, and was used to distinguish Japanese-language poetry from kanshi  (poetry written in Chinese by Japanese poets), and later from renga.
The term waka originally encompassed a number of differing forms, principally tanka ("short poem") and chōka ("long poem"), but also including bussokusekika, sedōka ("whirling head poem") and katauta ("poem fragment"). These last three forms, however, fell into disuse at the beginning of the Heian period, and chōka vanished soon afterwards. Thus, the term waka came in time to refer only to tanka.
Japanese poet and critic Masaoka Shiki created the term tanka in the early twentieth century for his statement that waka should be renewed and modernized. Until then, poems of this nature had been referred to as waka or simply uta ("song, poem"). Haiku is also a term of his invention, used for his revision of standalone hokku, with the same idea.
Traditionally waka in general has had no concept of rhyme (indeed, certain arrangements of rhymes, even accidental, were considered dire faults in a poem), or even of line. Instead of lines, waka has the unit  and the phrase


Dear Jane,

Is tanka another name for waka or are these two different forms?

Gillena Cox


Dear Gillena,

It is good to see you here in Holland on Carpe Diem! Thanks for the question.
Yes waka and tanka are basically the very same form. In the Japanese passion for giving a thing various names at various times, and since we in English have borrowed the Japanese terms, we are stuck with this problem.

In the very beginning poems in the tanka form were called “uta” or songs and occasionally even this word is still used. I found Akiko Yosano writing in Japan in 1901 did this. Also Jim Wilson, an American in California, in his books of tanka, composes music that can be used to sing or accompany any of his tanka. This is possible because he uses a strict syllable count.

When the Japanese began to compose other song forms (in the 800 CE) they changed the name from uta to waka.  Waka has remained in use up until today when both waka and tanka are employed for the same form. Whenever the court world of Japan refers to the form they use the older world of waka. Most modern Japanese, when speaking of the form and the poems, use the word tanka which translates to “short poem or song or elegance.”  Thus it is possible to hear all three terms used to indicate the same thing. I hope this gives you courage to write down whatever you are feeling in poetry!


Jane Reichhold
PS.: I (your host) will include a waka by Ariwara no Motokata

Within the year
Spring has come again;
The one year:
What should I say: that it's last year,
Or that it's the year to come?

As you can see, Waka follows the same form as Tanka.


I hope you did like this episode of "Ask Jane". Do you have a question for Jane? Than please feel free to email your question to:

I will take care that your question will be brought under the attention of Jane.