The Old and New – Kurisumasu Haibun – December 10, 2015

“T’is the season to be jolly!” sang little Akira Daichi* at the top of his voice as he walked in the snow-covered woods. He loved the crisp cool air, the red holly and the white mistletoe berries, all this said to him: Merīkurisumasu**!

Kitsune watched from her hiding place as the boy gathered the white and red berries, she was curious, so she took on human form, to find out what this new game was.

“Konnichiwa! O-genki desu ka?***” she said bowing.
“Genki desu!****” he replied respectfully.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m gathering holly and mistletoe for Christmas. I’m going to help decorate my sister’s home for that festivity. Her husband is American.”
“Ah so! Kurisumasu is American?”
“No no .. not just American. It is a mixture of the old European religions and Christianity.”
“Ah so! Like with our Shinto and Buddhism! That is good. Teach me your song … of “jolly”.” said the kami.

And so Akiro Daichi taught her his song and she helped him to find the most beautiful mistletoe and holly for the holiday.

This is how Kitsune learnt about Christmas and even today she helps anyone who comes to her woods to find the best and brightest berries remembering her friend’s love of Christmas. And when the bright day comes, she sings her “jolly” song at the house of Yuki-Onna.

the old and new
with bright winter colours


*bright great wisdom
**Merry Christmas
***”Hello. How are you?
****I’m fine


Is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shape shift into men or women. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.
Source: Wikipedia


The Lady of the Snow, the Snow Queen or Winter Ghost in Japanese mythology. Sometimes she appears as an earthly woman, marries and has children, but sometimes she will disappear in a white mist. To those lost in blizzards, struggling futilely against the cold, she came, soothing them, singing to lull them to sleep, then breathing a deathly cold breath on them. The “snow maiden” was the spirit of death by freezing; a calm, pale woman who appeared to the dying, making their death quiet and painless.
Source: Japanese Goddess Names

The Japanese religious tradition is made up of several major components, including Shinto, Japan’s earliest religion, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Christianity has been only a minor movement in Japan.

Carpe Diem Extra #43 Carpe Diem Kamishibai Kurisumasu

In today’s episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – Extra we are invited to “kamishibai Kurisumasu” … write a Christmas Haibun.  My favourite kami – Kitsune came to mind immediately, so please indulge me on my imaginary voyage to some unknown time in an imaginary Japan when a little boy taught Kitsune (whom I imply, taught Yuki-Onne) about Christmas.

Carpe Diem’s New Year – October 1, 2015

under autumn leaves
a new year begins –
the family
excited dance and sing
writing haiku every day

© G.s.k. ‘15


Today begins the month-long celebration of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai … the first features began in October 2012 and has come a long way!  Many many happy returns to Carpe Diem’s creator and host Chèvrefeuille.

(If you’re curious like I am, eventually you’ll go and find out what the title of this great site means, so I’ll save you the effort – Carpe Diem is Latin and it literally means – pluck the day [as it is ripe] or enjoy the moment .. haiku of course is a form of Japanese poetry … and kai is a multi cultural word which meanings fill a whole page of Wikipedia –  in Hawaiian – sea, in Japanese – ocean or shell [but also restoration,recovery and in one site forgiveness], in  Navajo – willow tree, in Maori – food and in Tagalog it’s and abbreviation for  “kaibigan” friend!)

Carpe Diem #830 New Year

The Eagle – Troiku – September 3, 2015

Public Domain – uploaded by Adam Cuerden (found on Wikipedia)

among the stars
there – flies the mighty eagle
reminder of freedom

among the stars
seen on this moonless fall night
Aquila flies

there – flies the mighty eagle
servant of Zeus
wings bright in the sky

reminder of freedom
eagle spread your mighty wings
good hunting tonight

© G.s.k. ‘15

Written for : Carpe Diem #810 Aquila (Eagle)

Chiyo-Ni’s “Morning glory” – Tan Renga – July 4, 2015

Chiyo-ni standing beside a well. This woodcut by Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrates her most famous haiku: finding a bucket entangled in the vines of a morning glory, she will go ask for water rather than disturb the flower.

Chiyo-ni standing beside a well. This woodcut by Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrates her most famous haiku: finding a bucket entangled in the vines of a morning-glory, she will go ask for water rather than disturb the flower.

asano eikou yoku baketto entanguru watashiha mizuwo motomeru

the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water

© Chiyo-Ni

all life is precious
even the morning-glory

old farmer
disentangles the bucket
each petal intact

warm tea in the morning
from morning-glory well

© G.s.k. ‘15

Written for:

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #92, Chiyo-Ni’s “Morning glory”

The print was uploaded onto Wikipedia by Petrusbarbygere

Haibun – May 28, 2014 – Nationalism


Once banners were flown and made literally to fly in order to celebrate a family or a quarter of a city, like in Siena, a province or religion.  Then, there were the rich potent reigning families like the Tudors or the Hapsburgs.  Each having their own special family stem symbolising their power and might.  Then one day, the idea of nations became a part of our collective memory.  We suddenly became a “people” no longer just loyal to our family or our province and king but a mythological “people”.

Before that age, conquests were made in the name of a person, not a people.  The “people”, when the last line was drawn were the property of some Vizier, Emporer or King or maybe a religion.

In the 18th century, nationalism was born.  First among nations was England, here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

With the emergence of a national public sphere and an integrated, country-wide economy in 18th century England, people began to identify with the country at large, rather than the smaller unit of their family, town or province. The early emergence of a popular patriotic nationalism took place in the mid-18th century, and was actively promoted by the government and by the writers and intellectuals of the time. National symbols, anthems, myths, flags and narratives were assiduously constructed and adopted. The Union Flag was adopted as a national one, the patriotic songRule, Britannia! was composed by Thomas Arne in 1740, and the cartoonist John Arbuthnot created the character of John Bull as the personification of the national spirit.


The term nationalism was first used by Johann Gottfried Herder the prophet of this new creed. Herder gave Germans new pride in their origins, and proclaimed a national message within the sphere of language, which he believed determines national thought and culture. He attached exceptional importance to the concept of nationality and of patriotism – “he that has lost his patriotic spirit has lost himself and the whole worlds about himself”, whilst teaching that “in a certain sense every human perfection is national”.

The political development of nationalism and the push for popular sovereignty culminated with the ethnic/national revolutions of Europe, for instance the Greek War of Independence. Since that time, nationalism has become one of the most significant political and social forces in history, perhaps most notably as a major influence or postulate of World War I and especially World War II. Benedict Anderson argued that, “Print language is what invents nationalism, not a particular language per se”.


From then onwards we’ve seen the price of rising of nationalism, even today from  the Basque country to Chechnya, the Tuaregs in Mali to the Eritreans … and so many more besides. Nationalism has been used to bond people even more than a religion or a single ruler ever could have done.  Basically, nationalism bonds totally through the creation of the myth of a pre-existing “people”;  united by language, culture, religion and race even when that unity never actually existed, as par example Italy before the Risorgimento, Franco’s Spain or Nazi Germany, just to name a few.

a flag, a song, a language
dividing  people

Written for Ligo Haibun – May 26, 2014


Italy…under water…again!

Italy…under water…again!

once again the rain has fallen
and once again the country succumbs

each year a new region
is drowned under the floods
and yet we’re surprised:
’cause the area changes.

disaster is always just ’round the bend
just a question of when the big rains begin

as parliamentarians fight to stay in their seats
the people sit and shout at the TV watching the deadbeats
politics has become another circensus
to distract us from the real problems that’re all around us

I look at the news from ’round the world
of war and famine and useless debate
prejudice and racism and national hate
I look at the world covered in water and snow
and ask myself where do we think we will go…
with all the talk, talk, talk
the useless chat
of pushing the blame to this group or that

though the rainfall was copious
that isn’t the problem
unlike in some places
here the issue’s neglect
rivers overgrown in trash and debris
buildings and roads encroaching the beds
greed and corruption
and procrastination
the land of…



Flood Lists 2013

River Floods in Italy

There is nothing new about floods in Italy.  It has to do with the terrain and how the cities have been built over the centuries…here in Trentino not so many years ago, we had the same problem…then around 25 years or so after one of the worst river disasters of the Region, something was decided to be done…and the Provincial Government began to clean up the rivers and free up the river beds.  Dams etc were also created to dole out the water.  It took quite a few years and a lot of money. A maintenance program, which is one of those things that usually gets forgotten when such projects are finally undertaken in Italy, was also created and most importantly, followed.  But there is something to be said here…Trentino and Alto Adige is an autonomous region.  When we too will be under central government rule, we might also have problems of getting the job done.  Hard telling. The other Autonomous Regions for the most part have not had the same success.

“Autonomous regions with special statute

Autonomous regions with special statute

Article 116 of the Italian Constitution grants to five regions (namely Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Aosta Valley and Friuli-Venezia Giulia) home rule, acknowledging their powers in relation to legislation, administration and finance. In return they have to finance the health-care system, the school system and most public infrastructures by themselves. (This is accomplished by a substantial tax return from the central government, which is being whittled down because of the present “economic crisis” g.s.k.)

These regions became autonomous in order to take into account cultural differences and protect linguistic minorities. Moreover the government wanted to prevent their secession from Italy after the Second World War.[6]

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol constitutes a special case. The region is nearly powerless, and the powers granted by the region’s statute are mostly exercised by the two autonomous provinces within the region, Trentino and South Tyrol. In this case, the regional institution plays a coordinating role.”  Wikipedia