Friday, December 25, 2015

Carpe Diem #885 without you: Stone Mountain, at Yamanaka, from this day on

!! double episode !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

During the holidays I will bring a few prompts together in one post, because this time of year is very dear to me and my family. We love to have time together and that makes that I have decided to bring another "double episode" today. Of course you all are part my family of haiku loving people and I just had to make this episode for you all.


On my way to Yamanaka hot spring, the white peak of Mount Shirane overlooked me all the time from behind. At last I came to the spot where there was a temple hard by a mountain on the left. According to the legend, this temple was built to enshrine Kannon, the great goddess of mercy, by the Emperor Kazan, when he had finished his round of the so-called Thirty- three Sacred Temples, and its name Nata was compounded of Nachi and Tanigumi, the first and last of these temples respectively. There were beautiful rocks and old pines in the garden, and the goddess was placed in a thatched house built on a rock. Indeed, the entire place was filled with strange sights.

Stone Mountain
whiter than its stones
autumn wind

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Credits: Yamanaka Hot Springs

I enjoyed a bath in the hot spring whose marvelous properties had a reputation of being second to none, except the hot spring of Ariake.

at Yamanaka
it’s not necessary to pluck chrysanthemums
hot spring fragrance

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

The host of the inn was a young man named Kumenosuke. His father was a poet and there was an interesting story about him: one day, when Teishitsu (later a famous poet in Kyoto but a young man then) came to this place, he met this man and suffered a terrible humiliation because of his ignorance of poetry, and so upon his return to Kyoto, he became a student of Teitoku and never abandoned his studies in poetry till he had established himself as an independent poet. It was generally believed that Teishitsu gave instruction in poetry free of charge to anyone from this village throughout his life. It must be admitted, however, that this is already a story of long ago.

My companion, Sora, was seized by an incurable pain in his stomach. So he decided to hurry, all by himself, to his relatives in the village of Nagashima in the province of Ise. As he said good-bye he wrote:

no matter where I fall
I will be buried between
flowering bush-clovers

© Sora (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

I felt deeply in my heart both the sorrow of one that goes and the grief of one that remains, just as a solitary bird separated from his flock in dark clouds, and wrote in answer:

from this day on
dew will erase the writing
on my hat

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

(Note: Basho refers to “a party of two”, which he wrote on his hat as he and Sora started their “Narrow Road”)

Credits: Zenshoji Temple near the castle of Daishoji

I stopped overnight at the Zenshoji Temple near the castle of Daishoji, still in the province of Kaga. Sora, too, had stayed here the night before and left behind a poem.
Sora and I were separated by the distance of a single night, but it was just the same as being separated by a thousand miles. I, too, went to bed amidst the howling of the autumn wind and woke up early the next morning amid the chanting of the priests, which was soon followed by the noise of the gong calling us to breakfast. As I was anxious to cross over to the province of Echizen in the course of the day, I left the temple without lingering, but when I reached the foot of the long approach to the temple, a young priest came running down the steps with a brush and ink and asked me to leave a poem behind. As I happened to notice some leaves of willow scattered in the garden, I wrote impromptu,

sweeping the garden
I want to leave in the temple
scattered willow leaves

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

and left the temple without even taking time to refasten my straw sandals.

Credits: Pine tree (woodblock print Ogata Gekko)

Hiring a boat at the port of Yoshizaki on the border of the province of Echizen, I went to see the famous pine of Shiogoshi. The entire beauty of this place, I thought, was best expressed in the following poem by Saigyo.

inviting the wind to carry
salt waves of the sea,
the pine tree of Shiogoshi
trickles all night long
shiny drops of moonlight.

© Saigyo (Tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa)

Should anyone ever dare to write another poem on this pine tree it would be like trying to add a sixth finger to his hand.


What a sad story. Basho and Sora have been on this journey so long together and now Basho has to say goodbye to his travel companion, because of illness. It's "double sad", because Basho wasn't healthy himself, he had a chronic diseases of the intestines. He once has said "I will die on one of my travels as a result of my illness", and now Sora had to leave him because of an illness.

How sad it is to look around you and see how people are alone or lonely without family or friends ... no one has to be alone with Christmas ... but ... well we all know that there are a lot people alone and lonely now. Let us think a while of them ... and than look at ourselves.

underneath the bridge
warming their hands at a fire basket
those ... lost and alone

© Chèvrefeuille

I hadn't planned to create a wonderful episode and leave you all with such a sad toned haiku ... but that's our reality, our world is lost and alone ... but there is a power, a great power, to overcome that ... unconditional love.

Merry Christmas

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and it will remain open until December 28th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, 
writing something; the moon clear; harvest moon; loneliness, next Sunday.


  1. A treasure in this double episode, Chevrefeuille -- and it is good to remember those who are lost and alone over the holidays.

    Namaste --