August 31, 2011

Haiga 644 Tony Pupello haiku

Haiku by Tony Pupello (USA). Artwork by myself.

Tony lives in NYC. I came to know him through a mutual friend, Jim Kacian. I was not involved with haiku then, but when I met Tony in NYC, he took me to a kukai held in the city. I remember that was a quite an experience, seeing all these people reading haiku in English. Dee Evitt, who led the kukai, asked me if I had some haiku to share, but of course I had none so I just sat still and observed the discussion.

Foggy night,
a foreign bird pecks alone
among city doves

On the next day, I went to the nearest Barnes & Noble, and picked up a copy of "Haiku Anthology" by Cor van den Heuvel, my first haiku book.

August 30, 2011

Haiga 643 Matsuo Basho haiku

Haiku by Matsuo Basho. Artwork by myself.
Basho wrote this haiku as he entered Kanazawa, where Maeda feudal lord had the catsle. Maeda clan was the most powerful one among 242 lords in Japan then.

As customary practice for haijin entering into a territory governed by fuedal lord, Basho wrote this haiku to pay respect to the lord. Basho wrote the haiku to praise the abundant richness of farm crops and general prosperity in the territory.

The city of Kanazawa now retains old things but at the same time has very contemporary art museum, and a good art and craft university.

August 29, 2011

Haiga 642 Matsuo Basho haiku

Haiku by Matsuo Basho. Artwork by myself.
Basho's journey in "Narrow Road to the Deep North" is nearing the end now. On Aug. 29, he was in Kanazawa. Kanazawa is known as little Kyoto, maintaining the looks of feudal Japan, when samurais ruled the land. I have been there a couple of times on business, one time I was invited to a crab dinner, a special treat in the winter time.

Kanazawa was, in Basho's time, a mecca of haiku in the area. I am sure Basho was welcomed and treated well during his stay. One sad thing troubled Basho, one of his best disciples, Issho, had pass way long before Basho's arrival. He wrote this haiku:

The gravemound should move!
my crying voice is echoed
in the autumn wind

August 28, 2011

Haiga 641 Francine Porad haiku - Hurricane Irene

Haiku by Francine Porad (US). Artwork by myself.
Just learned on the web that a huge hurricane was approaching NYC and nearby boroughs. I am aware of the geography at and around Manhattan, there are places lower than sea level, and am worried about high tide, not to mention the gust of wind and subsequence power black out.
I remembered this haiga I made a few years ago. I hope there is a bright star for wishing there.

Haiga 640 Elaine Cleveland haiku

Haiku by Elaine cleveland (USA). Artwork by myself.
Among the various facilities of my body, vision is probably the last thing I do not want to lose, for a visual artist like me, the working of the eyes is very vital.

I recently read a book by someone who lost eye-sight but started painting. That alone is a very brave decision, and what's more, this person's paintings sell!. I looked at some of her artworks and amazed at the fact that she paints quite realistic images.

There seems to be no limit to a person's will. Something I, who have no defect in my bodily facilities, should learn, and be grateful at the same time for what I have.

August 26, 2011

Haiga 639 Kuniharu Shimizu haiku - punched card

Haiku by myself. I found this photo on the web somewhere.
I heard the news that Steve Jobs of Apple stepped down from CEO and leaving. I have been an enthusiast of Mac computer since its early versions, and have been watching what Jobs was up to all these years. So, this news kind of touched me.

Digital is basically "on and off". It is very clear cut, no grey zone. This photo of the punched card illustrates it well. The combination of "on and off" store los of things: information, artwork, audio, movie. So many things can be digitized now and storage capacity has grown enormously. There are, however, in this world that cannot be digitized, namely the life.

Life is full of grey zone, and that is what makes it interesting, making it a great source of art, literature, poem, and such.

August 25, 2011

Haiga 638 Yoshiko McFarland (JP-USA)

Haiku by Yoshiko McFarland (Japan-US). Artwork by myself.

Yoshiko san is a few year senior than I, born right after the WW2. She probably had seen the remain of the war somewhere, and wrote this haiku.

I had the same experience when I visited one of the Palau Islands, Peleliu Island where more than 10,000 Japanese solders died, and so did many US Marines. I was there with my father to find the remain of a small church building. Tropical weather and vegetation have taken their toll over many years, and what we found were only a few foundation stones of the church.

Here and there on the island were rusted cannons and tanks, and skeleton of concrete buildings, which were probably military facilities. The contrast between the remains and a newly built war memorial was quite striking. The sky was so bright, so pristine, looked as if saying "...and then, the life goes on..."

August 24, 2011

Haiga 637 Robert D. Wilson haiku - letter

Haiku by Robert D. Wilson. Artwork by myself.
I picked this haiku from Robert's Viet Nam haiku series.

Viet seems so long ago. I was going to school in Hawaii when the war was raging, some of my classmates got drafted, some volunteered. As for myself, I was too busy adjusting to the school and to American way of life, to really see what was happening in the world. In a way, I was fighting my own little war on a little island in the Pacific. Receiving a letter from home at such time was so comforting, it helped summon up my will to face each day of the small battles.

August 22, 2011

Haiga 636 Kuniharu Shimizu haiku

Haiku and photograph by myself.
Two years after 9.11, I was in NYC. I walked all over the city, including the ground zero. I came across this scene during my roaming, probably somewhere in Soho.

When I was young, like in junior high school age, I used to watch American TV programs, and was awed by all the material wealth. To me, big trucks, and big V8 cars were always the symbol of the wealth. Time has changed and cars have gotten smaller, but trucks have not, still as big and mighty as the dinosaurs.

August 21, 2011

Haiga 635 John Bird haiku - dolphin

Haiku by John Bird (Australia). Artwork by myself.
Winter haiku? Why not? Some parts of the world are in winter season now. While us guys in the Northern Hemisphere are sweating all over and writing about scorching sun, those in the southern hemisphere are writing about chilly wind blowing through bare tree branches.

Yesterday, I attended a mini concert at my haiga exhibition site. Wakei san, my team mate of Basho project, did a very entertaining performance. This was my first experience with live Kouta, a type of traditional Japanese singing genre.

August 20, 2011

Haiga 634 Jane Reichhold haiku - whales

Haiku by Jane Reichhold (USA). Artwork by myself.
This is one of my early haiga. I made, then, some haiga for Jane. In return, she sent me a homemade thank-you card, which was more 3D than 2D; attached to the card were colorful strings, pieces of paper box and paper of various texture and what not.

When I was small, I ate whale meat a lot. It was much cheaper than pork and beef. It has distinct smell so needed to be cooked with care. Still, when whale was served on dinner table, it was a treat for us kids.

There are controvercy on whale catching in the world. Japanese people have been eating whale from long ago and every part of the whale is not wasted, from meat to bones to even beards. Whale has provided precious resources for Japan many years.

August 19, 2011

Haiga 633 George Swede haiku -unseen

Haiku by George Swede (Canada). Artwork by myself.
Like last year, this summer has been especially hot, and humid. Night time is even termed "tropical night". I have to sleep almost nothing on. I run the air conditioning but they say that leaving it on while asleep is not good for health so I switch it off just before fall into sleep. It nothing as sensual as this haiku.

This morning, coolness has returned, and going to be like that for a while. What a relief.

When I made this haiga and several others for George san, he generously sent me his haiku book entitled "Almost Unseen", a very handsom looking book. From the book, I made some more haiga for him.

August 18, 2011

Haiga 632 Vladimir Devide haiku

Haiku by Vladimir Devide (Croatia). Artwork by myself.

Devide san passed away recently. We lost a great poet, well known in Balkan countries as well as in the world. He was a key figure who made haiku popular among the Balkan countries, where there are a large population of haiku poets, next to probably Japan.

Your shadow is connected to you, but it also casts on to the others. When you have a fear, the other would get influenced by it. On the other hand, if your mind is peaceful, it would affect on the other, too. What with all that happened in Japan this year, the state of the mind counts great deal. In order to climb out of the hole of uncertainty, the state of the mind of us Japanese becomes crucial.

August 17, 2011

Haiga 631 Kuniharu Shimizu haiku

Haiku (or senryu) and photo by myself.
Again, a haiga from Los Angles. There are so many celebrities residing in this town, but for ordinary people, chance of getting to know such people is very little, like looking up at the leaves of palm tree high above. What we see at our eye level is only the dull trunks that resemble the elephants' legs.

Hollywood pavement,
my palm picks up dust
from stars' handprints

August 16, 2011

Haiga 630 Kuniharu Shimizu haiku

Haiku and photo by myself.
Some years ago, I was in Los Angels, doing some interviews for a magazine. At a hotel, I switched on TV, hoping to see English programs. To my surprise, what appeared on the screen was programs in foreign languages, mostly spanish. Channel after channel . Took me a while to settle on an English channel. This is something you never experience in Japan.

On a street, I found a scene of the photograph. Guitars in different colors and styles. It seems to visualize what the USA is becoming into.

August 15, 2011

Haiga 629 Alan Summers haiku

Haiku by Alan Summers (UK). Artwork by myself.
A few days ago, Alan san asked me to make a haiga for his haiku. He said it would be a cover or something of his haiku booklet. This haiga here is what I sent to him in reply. I added the Japanese translation, too.

I placed some stars in the eye-blind. The shine of the stars is contained in the blackness of the eye-blind--I meant this to be the memory. Sentimental and also humorous haiku.

In the first version, I made a typo, which Alan san pointed out. I am a typo person, I admit. In the past, I was responsible for a few magazines. How did I manage to survive the responsibility? Well, I always had a good proof reader as my assistant. I just contributed ideas for the content.

August 14, 2011

Haiga 628 Matsuo Basho haiku - another nuke power plant

Haiku by Matsuo Basho. Artwork by myself.
Basho's journey in the norther Japan goes on. Sora and he have departed Kisakata and is now traveling along the coast of Niigata, viewing Japan Sea on the way. He wrote several haiku then. This haiku here is one of them. He wrote about the eve of Tanabata Festival, July 7, which in present calendar is the middle of August.

The Island of Sado comes into the view, and write another famous haiku.
Billow-crested seas !
flowing toward Sado Isle
heaven's Milky Way

Then he meets two prostitues and stays a night under the same roof.
Beneath this same roof
prostitutes were sleeping too -
clover and the moon

The map shows the coast line of Niigata. Basho wrote Sado Isles haiku around Kashiwazaki. In present day Kashiwazaki, there is a big nuke power plant. The electricity generated there is all sent to Tokyo area. There was a rather big earthquake in the area several years ago. Luckily there was no tsunami and just a little damage to the facilities.

Oyashirazu is the roughest part of the path, high cliff and narrow road. Around there, Basho wrote the prostitutes haiku.

August 13, 2011

Across the Takenouchi Kaido (path)

I went to my haiga exhibition site yesterday to switch the haiga. I am showing now the another half of Basho haiga.
On the way to the site, I drove on Takenouchi Kaido (The photo shows a place where the new and the old meet: right side is the old path, and the left side is the present road, Route 166).

Takenouchi Kaido dates back to 600AD, was the first state governed path, connecting Osaka and Nara. In 1680's, Basho stayed for a while at a village along the path, and haiku he wrote then was included in his "Nozarashi Kiko" a travel haiku journal.

Now, Osaka and Nara are connected with two highways. Faster on them, but Takenouchi Kaido is a pleasant drive so I stay on it.

August 12, 2011

Haiga 627 Vincent Tripi haiku - cover bridge

Haiku by Vincent Tripi (USA). Artwork by myself.
When I first read this haiku, I did not know what a covered bridge was. I did web-search then and found many links to the word. I found that the wooden bridge was covered with roof so it lasts long time.There was a movie "The Bridge of Madison County", too.

I have walked through tunnels many time, but not the covered bridge. I can only imagine, but with the cover bridge, you come out to more or less the similar scene, like in this haiku. With tunnel, the change is usually more dramatic, like in Yasunari Kawababata's famous novel "Snow Country", which begins with this sentense "The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country"
Going though a tunnel transports you to another world.

August 11, 2011

Haiga 626 Michael Dylan Welch haiku - seashell

Haiku by Michael Dylan Welch (USA). Artwork by myself.

We have a very hot summer here in Japan. For the past several days, I stayed in Tokyo, where the heat from the pavement gets often unbearable. I had many places to visit, and fortunately stayed indoor most of the time, but during the to and from the heat exhausted me quite a bit.

Last night, I returned home. The heat seemed to have followed me. I was drenched with sweat, and tired. At home, grandkids welcomed me. Especially the younger one, a girl, a 3-year old, was comforting. She stayed by my side, telling me all kinds of things while I sipped a can of chilled beer.

A summer day -
sun' heat melts my body
child's voice melts my heart

August 7, 2011

Haiga 625 Kaneko Tohta haiku - minnow

Haiku by Kaneko, Tohta (Japan). Artwork by myself.

My town is surrounded by expanse of rich patches, which at this time of the year are covered with new green leaves of rice plants. The patches are always filled with water, and there are many small acuatic lives, including minnows. No matter how old you gets, these small lives always attract your eyes. Kaneko san is no exception. I assume he stayed by a stream and watched the minnows for some time, a story sprang in his mind, and then wrote this haiku.
I am off to Tokyo for several days. I will be one of many many minnows in a big pond.

Flood subsides...
a strayed minnow
in a water puddle

August 5, 2011

Haiga 624 Hosaku Shinohara haiku - stars

Haiku by Hosaku Shinohara. Artwork by myself.
Have you ever seen skyful of stars, I mean all the stars from the big ones to tiny ones, all visible?
I have. Once in a remote countryside of India, another time at the top of Mt. Maunakea in Hawaii. I was simply amazed and awed at seeing so many stars, which I had never known existed above me all the time. The sheer size of the sky itself was overwhelming, too.

Another thing I noticed was that at the top of high mountain where the air is thinner, stars do not twinkle. Stars twinkle because of the thick layer of atmosphere so it only happens on the ground level. I rather see stars twinkling, though, for it looks as though they are alive, breathing or something.

Shinohara observed the similar sky at the sea. I made this haiga, remembering my own experience of skyful of stars.

P.S. The word "skyful" is not in dictionary. I made it up, but still it works, does it not?

August 4, 2011

Haiga 623 Jerry Ball haiku - name

Haiku by Jerry Ball. Artwork by myself.
Just because I painted her hair yellow does not mean I drew a white girl. Women with golden hair are everywhere among Japanese women, too, nowadays. Men are also for that matter. Somehow black hair looks heavy and stuffy so many want to dye to lighter color especially in summer season. I am almost all grey so I do not need to worry about that.

Names. I forget names, too. I am basically a visual person, having good memories of how a particular person look like, like facial parts, but not names.

Just yesterday, a man approached me with a smile. Obviously he knew me, and he looked familiar. He began talking about Kosuke Kitajima, a Olympic gold medalist in swimming. Then I remembered him. He was one of the staffs at Tokyo Swimming Center. I had done design works for the center many years ago. Kitajima was with the center then, and surprisingly enough, when he wore swimming suits I designed, he began to win competition one after another. The man praised my works as lucky desgin. We laughed and talked some more, and departed. All the while, his name did not come back to my brain.

August 3, 2011

Haiga 622 Draja Kocjancic haiku - king

Haiku by Draja Kocjancic (Slovenia). Artwork by myself.
Children are king in summer time, especially in my town, Tenri. Every year, more than 200,000 children assemble in my town to attend Children's Summer Pilgrimage Festival, which runs from July 26 though Aug.4, a 10-day event.

Children come from all parts of Japan as well as from foreign countries. This year, many children in the disaster area are invited. They spend 2 to 3 days, attending prayer service, getting a lot of fun at numerous play sites, which include swimming pools, theaters, outside playgrounds, night parade, that scatter around the town. Children are indeed treated as king during this period.

August 2, 2011

Haiga 621 Alexis Rotella haiku - tears

Haiku by Alexis Rotella. Artwork by myself.

Alexis and I tweeted back and forth as follow:

Me: My shadow / when I laugh or cry, /still the same shadow
Alexis: as my late uncle said, why cry -- no one will hear.
Me: Often times, one cries not so much to let it heard by the others, but to let out one's stress.
Alexis: I know about crying letting out stress....I've cried a river of stress and continue to do so
Me: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Hope there are other means to let stress go.
Alexis: Writing relieves stress and hopefully poems and art turn stress into something meaningful and sometimes beautiful.
Me: One time I really cried was when I was in Hawaii. I went to beach at night, tossed and turned my body on sand.
Alexis: So your tears became one with the sea.
Me: Now, a poet talking. That's beautiful. A bit of unhappiness is good for art.
Alexis: I give them back / to the sea / these tears.

And thus, this haiku and then haiga were born.

August 1, 2011

Haiga 620 Dorothy Howard senryu - shadow

Senryu by Dorothy Howard, Canada. Artwork by myself.
Here is something suitable for the season now.
Many years ago, when I started writing haiku, I used to send submittion to a haiku magazine Dorothy edited. I forgot the name of the magazine, but I remember it had rather wild content, had certain energy of creation in it.

I like taking photograph, but do not have the kind of guts this photographer has. Still, getting a step closer the the subject is a valuable tip if you want a good photograph.