Ten Styles of Tanka – Post 5 – January 24, 2016


as the sun sets
the north star shines brightly
in the gloaming
awing the voyager
a grain of sand on the beach

© G.s.k. ‘16


5. Lofty style – taketakaki tei, a method of achieving grandeur and elevation

One of the traditional examples of this style is the poem by Fujiwara Yoshitsune (1169-1206) composed on the given theme of “the moon at dawn” in the Shinkokinshū #16:1545:

ana no to o / oshiakegata no / kumonma yori / kamiyo no tsuki / kage zo nokoreru

the coming dawn
pushes open the Gates of Heaven
from the clouds
the moon from the Age of Gods
is an image left behind

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

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

Fields – Haiku Haitaishi- January 22, 2016

windy afternoon
a lark caught in the current
o’er fields of grain

in a field of wheat
cicadas serenade
[a  farmer sleeps]

fresh turned soil
crows fly o’er the empty fields
searching out seeds

a field of snow
perfect white canvas
tales, yet untold

© G.s.k. ‘16

Carpe Diem #901 fields

Here are a few examples about this modern kigo by Jane herself:

a field of snow
fenced in by fields
of snow

the winter moon
diminishing into snowflakes
open fields

dark fences
encircling the snowy field
eyelashes blink

stitching together
now-covered fields
blackbird wings

© Jane Reichhold

And here is Chèvrefeuille’s lovely haiku:

virgin field
disgracing it would be a sin
the first bare step

© Chèvrefeuille

Ten Styles of Tanka – Post 3 – January 22, 2016


November Afternoon

November Afternoon

in the distance
as the sun melts in the mist
a solemn ray
disperses light on the lake
and his soul in the wind

© G.s.k. ‘16

3. Elegant beauty – urawashiki tei, characterised by harmony, balance, and beauty of cadence

Examples of this style is this one from the great poet of the late 7th century – Kakinomoto no Hitomaro from the Kokinshū, #9:409:

honobono to / akashi no ura no / asagiri ni / shimagakureyuku / fune o shi zo omou

dimly dimly
on the shores of Akashi Bay
morning mist
vanishing by distant islands
longing follows the ship

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 (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



Snowdrop – Haiku Writing Techniques – December 30, 2015


in winter’s midst
standing on the empty pier
a snowdrop

long winter day
passes in a flash of light

© G.s.k. ‘15

This post is dedicated to my friend Elena of Elena ed Orlando

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #25 The Technique of Narrowing Focus

ake yasuki yo wo iso ni yoru kurage kana

the short night ending–
close to the water’s edge
a jellyfish

© Yosa Buson

amenohiya madakini kurete nemuno hana

A rainy day
Quickly falls the night–
Silk-tree blossoms

© Yosa Buson

the whole sky
in a wide field of flowers
one tulip

© Jane Reichhold

in the moonlight
Wisteria flowers look fragile –
a gust of wind

© Chèvrefeuille

Morning Haiku and Waka – Sunrise – December 2, 2015

willow sunrise

dawn breaks
shadowing willows and pines
in black and white

sun’s reflections
outlining autumn trees
at dawn

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #21 The Technique of Mixing It Up:  today’s technique helps us include the author creating a bit of ambiguity using the gerund in one’s haiku … who is doing the action, nature or the author?  Here are two examples of how the technique works:

end of winter
covering the first row
of lettuce seeds

© Jane Reichhold

meigetsu ya ike o megurite yomosugara

full moon
walking around the pond
all night

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Paradox – Haiku – November 25, 2015


dancing in the park
bright new worlds
in soap bubbles

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #20 Paradox

Examples of paradox in haiku

waiting room
a patch of sunlight
wears out the chairs

© Jane Reichhold

black forest
whatever you may say
a morning of snow

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

reaching for the sun
tulips bursting through the earth –
colorful rainbow

© Chèvrefeuille

different images
seen through readers eyes
haiku paradox

© Chèvrefeuille