Ten Styles of Tanka – Post 4 – January 23, 2016

fallen willowold willow is gone
it can never be replaced
these empty tears
fall down my cheeks unchecked
remembering summer shade

© G.s.k. ‘16

4. Conviction of feeling – ushintei

This is Teika’s most famous poetical ideal; one that he most developed in his middle and later years. Over this time he came to give ushin two distinct senses. One, in the narrow sense of “deep feeling” as one of the ten styles and in the broader sense of “conviction of feeling” – the quality that must be part of every good poem. Teika felt this could not be an adopted “style” but could result only if the poet “approached the art with the utmost seriousness and concentration”. These strong words of stubborn and uncompromising demand were typical of Teika’s goal of the highest stand of artistic integrity.
Another interpretation of the style is that it uses a highly subjective sense in which the speaker’s feeling pervade the imagery and rhetoric of the poem. It is especially appropriate for poems expressing love or grief.

Given as example is this poem by Princess Shikishi, #9:1034 in the Shinkokinshū:

tama no o yo / taenaba taene / nagaraeba / shinoburu koto no / yowari mo zo suru

jewel of my soul
threaded on the string
that should break
how to endure these things
I am getting weaker

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #66 Teika’s Ten Tanka Techniques by Jane Reichhold

The Ten Styles of Tanka – Post Two – January 21, 2016


that winter at noon
I was happy – full of life
the willows shone bright
their leaves flowed like silver rain
imitating a spring day

© G.s.k. ‘16

“2. Appropriate statement – koto shikarubeki

From the former emperor Go-Toba’s Secret Teachings, is his statement that the Priest Shun’e said of this style “that a poem should be composed so that seems to glide as smoothly as a drop of water rolling down the length of a five-foot iris leaf”. The priest was known to have composed in a smooth quiet manner.

As example is this poem by Shunzei, #16:988 Senzaishū:

sumiwabite / mi o kakusubeki / yamazoto ni /amari kuma naki /yowa no tsuki kana

weary of the world
I thought to hide myself away
in this mountain village
but it reaches every corner of the night
bright radiance of the moon

Teika’s Ten Tanka Techniques by Jane Reichhold

The Ten Styles of Tanka – Post One – January 20, 2016

winter morning
walking down this empty path
only silence
memories of summer’s joy
have frozen on the wind

© G.s.k. ‘16

1. Mystery and depth – yūgentei, the image evoking ineffable loneliness (This category is associated mostly with Fujiwara Shunzei (1114-1204) – examples from  Toshiyori:

uzura naku / mano no irie no / hamakaze ni / obananami yoru / aki no yūgure

cries of quail
from the shore of Mano cove
winds blow
waves of plume grass
ripple in autumn dusk

furusato wa / chiru momijiba ni / uzumorete /noki no shinobu ni / akikaze zo fuku

my birthplace
buried under crimson leaves
fallen in the garden
sedge grass from the eaves
melancholy autumn wind


(Today’s episode is dedicated to the Ten Tanka Techniques by the famous Japanese poet Fujiwara no Teika written by by Jane Reichhold on Carpe Diem Haiku Kai,. It seems a shame to write just one tanka for the whole episode but on the other hand to write ten tanka all in one post means no single tanka technique or indeed tanka can be appreciated.  So, I’ve decided to write a tanka dedicated to each technique on separate posts.

For the complete post published by Chèvrefeuille on the ten tanka techniques, which is really extremely interesting, please click on the link above.)


Morning Haiku and Waka – Animals in Haiku – January 13, 2016

shaded Ducks

floating blossoms
fluttering o’er the orchards
majestic monarchs

first morning light
the  cuckoo calls from woods
like clock-work

in September
the salmon swim down stream
the ocean calls

Mallard ducks
laughing along the lakefront
the geese flew south

© G.s.k. ‘16

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #65 combining animals and seasons

Today’s splendid episode was presented by Sara McNulty of Purple Pen in Portland for her award-winning post for our special Christmas Kamishibai challenge. Here is one of the haiku she used to inspire her post:

The harvest moon–
rabbits go scampering
across Lake Suwa

~ Buson ~

And here are two of her own haiku:


black nose sticking up
Is the dog buried under
a pile of leaves?


hot night
chorus outside my window
tree frog serenade

© Sara McNulty

Morning Haiku and Waka (Movement) – Beyond – January 6, 2016

winds of time

beyond the stars
echoes throughout creation
a big bang

going beyond now
meditations upon life
an apple seed

this spring’s augur
a dried cherry pit – found
behind the cupboard

in the winter pond
how big the full-moon grows
beyond this haiku

© G.s.k. ‘16

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #64 Beyond “movement”

In this episode we follow the debate between Chèvrefeuille and Jane Reichhold on the possibility of movement in the haiku.  Ms Reichhold’s view is that a haiku is: a static moment in time, characterized by the a-ha moment

“as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water. Just an eye-blink, a heart beat … And if you would bring that short moment into haiku there is no movement at all.”

Chèvrefeuille’s opinion is slightly different, he uses the example of Basho’s famous haiku about the frog in the pond:

old pond
frog jumps in
water sound

© Basho (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

“In that famous haiku by Basho lays the birth of “undou” (movement). “Undou” (movement) however is more than only the movement of a frog. It’s the movement of nature, of our world, movement that is everlasting like a “perpetuum mobile” and that, my dear Haijin, visitors and travelers, is why I created “undou” (movement) as a new haiku writing technique.”

I personally think that even if one wanted to use the Zen concept of “here and now”  there is a here and now movement.  Something that is static,  or so my Shiatsu Master Ohashi taught us, is dead. Also from my understanding, in the present traditional Japanese haiku there is no A-Ha moment, Zen was excluded from haiku by Shiki – but even Basho and the other classical haiku poets didn’t use haiku as a part of a Zen practice.   Unless a monk put one of his mondo in haiku form there is no Zen haiku though there are Buddhists who wrote haiku – many of the Renga schools liked to use haiku in this way … but besides all this, it would seem that the idea of the A-ha moment is not in fact Japanese at all, it is Western:

“Traditionally, in Japan, haiku is not of zen inspiration. At the best, it follows the buddhist attitude that consists in observing things without a priori, as things are, before formulating an opinion. Haiku is sometimes considered as a mental exercise.

By us Westerners, haiku has been introduced in the beginning of this century (20th Century), in an exotic atmosphere. The zen dyeing seems [to have] arrised in the 50s with the popularization of that philosophy in the American culture.

Blyth’s fundamental work (1949)  based upon the idea that haiku is the poetic expression of zen spread,  through the ‘beat generation’ (Allan Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac). This idea would then dominate the Western haiku approaches.”

tempslibres – free times
© Copyright Serge Tomé, 1999



A Troiku with Basho – Troiku – September 30, 2015

flash mob of flowers

butterflies and birds
restlessly they rise up
a cloud of flowers

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

butterflies and birds
flit from tree to flower
cherry blossoms bloom

restlessly they rise up
seeking the sun and wind
rain-filled clouds

a cloud of flowers
under the cool spring shower
bee’s sanctuary

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #63 Troiku (reprise)

Tokubetsudesu – Troiku – September 23, 2015

first bridge

autumn reflections
as I cross the sun warmed bridge
geese fly south

© G.s.k. ‘15

autumn reflections
old man contemplates winter
under the hot sun

as I cross the sun warmed bridge
ducks laugh down stream
– diving for trout

geese fly south
the noisy swallows have gone
but the blackbird sings

© G.s.k. ‘15

Linked to:

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #62 Troiku – today’s feature is an invitation to write a whole new troiku … what is a troiku … it’s a chained haiku born from the lines of a Japanese haiku – like a Russian sled pulled by three horses!  This form was invented by the host of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, Chèvrefeuille and here are a couple of examples:

as you can see this one was based on Basho’s “Old Pond”.

seeking knowledge
getting deeper insight
hermit’s choice

seeking knowledge
contemplating under the Bodhi Tree
like Buddha

getting deeper insight
while listening to the silence
the sound of rain

hermit’s choice
seeking refuge high up in the mountains
closer to the gods

© Chèvrefeuille

Tokubetsudesu – Troiku from a Haiga – September 23, 2015


haiga 22

autumn sailors
float on the green lake waters
without a goal

autumn sailors
face the shifting fickle winds
– those flapping sails

float on the green lake waters
this windless morning
in the autumn rain

without a goal
they depart early each morn
sailing into the sun

© G.s.k. ‘15


Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #62 Troiku

Morning Cobwebs – Tokubetsudesu – September 16, 2015


shining on cobwebs
this early morning dew
crystallizes time

a crystal umbrella
made of spider silk
on the autumn path

imprisoned fly awaits death
caught in an old spider’s web
composing its fly jisei
it’s saved by the storm

even these morning cobwebs
are cleared away with breakfast
I’ll make some coffee and toast
thinking of autumn

© G.s.k. ‘15

Written for:  Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #61 crystal cobweb

“colourful leaves” – tanka story – September 9, 2015

in the morning
walking among colourful leaves
their rustling sound
speaks to me of chestnuts
and jelly like persimmons

autumn song
sung by the crackling leaves
burning in a pyre
orange fire among red leaves
in my neighbour’s raked lawn

colourful leaves
climb up the old house’s walls
bright perky red
nearby – an evergreen tree
autumn harmony

these colourful leaves
so beautiful to see today
announce winter
and white crispy snow
among barren trees

© G.s.k. ‘15

Written for:

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #60 Variety “colorful leaves”