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triveni spotlight: 7th October 2023

triveni spotlight A FEATURE EVERY ALTERNATE DAY! hosts: Kala Ramesh and Vidya Shankar GUEST EDITOR: Keiko Izawa 7th October 2023


himawari no saka tachikogi no obōsan

sunflower hill

the monk stands

pedaling his bike


— Ike Koyama

from 365 Nichi Kigo Techō (365-Day Kigo Diary) 2023



During this month, I’d like to introduce contemporary Japanese haiku, including kigo, which are referred to as “yūki haiku(有季俳句)”. In yūki haiku, toriawase (matching kigo and the remaining phrases) is the key point, not to mention its creativity and originality. In my view, Japanese haiku are generally simple compared to English (language) haiku, but the subtle sensibility is embedded within as the synergies with the power of kigo. I hope you enjoy karumi (lightness) blended with seasonality in these haiku.

Keiko Izawa

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Thank you for being our next guest editor Keiko Izawa You are bringing something fresh and this is going to be a treat for all our members. _()_

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17 Comments


I am enjoying your selections, Keiko. May I ask a question? At some point this month will you talk about kireji?

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Keiko Izawa
Keiko Izawa
Oct 08, 2023
Replying to

As for #1, cut comes after "shunshō no"

#2 before "bankakō"

#3 before "tsuki to kaku

#4. after "himawari no saka"


In modern haiku, younger Japanese poets don't use kireji so often to avoid the classical Japanese way, which is rather difficult to use as to the positioning, etc. So kire: cuts usually come after nouns or verbs in those haiku. You will find kireji in the next two haiku to be posted.

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marilyn ashbaugh
marilyn ashbaugh
Oct 07, 2023

sunflower hill

the monk stands

pedaling his bike


Keiko,


I enjoy the subtleness and karumi of this haiku. I think of a monk as austere and otherworldly yet in this scene perhaps he is standing to get a better view of sunflower hill, which displays his/her interest in mundane beauty. A facebook page "Haiku University" is dedicated to two-line toriawase haiku. Thanks to your guidance here I understand this type of haiku.


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Keiko Izawa
Keiko Izawa
Oct 07, 2023
Replying to

Marilyn,

Thank you for the remark from a different angle. There are several steep hills in the vicinity of my home, and I used to climb these hills by electric bike. But even with it climbing the hill wasn’t so easy. So if the hill was steep, maybe the monk climbing the hill by a cheap bike should have been unable to enjoy the view as he stood pedaling.. But even so, I enjoyed the possibility of your such idea🫶🏻

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lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
Oct 07, 2023

The cyclist can stand whilst pedaling the cycle and this visual image is good. The vertical axis with that of the sunflowers and the monk is curious to look out for the smaller ones too. Not necessarily needed that the monk is climbing the hill. It can be as you pass by a hill.


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Keiko Izawa
Keiko Izawa
Oct 07, 2023
Replying to

I don’t know about it in India, but in Japan, especially in big cities like Tokyo or Yokohama it’s rarely seen that monks ride bikes or climb the hill by bike. So this unusual scene brings me some warmth, and the “standing monk” is definitely adding a spice to this haiku, making a good toriawase with the kigo “sunflower”.

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Lev Hart
Lev Hart
Oct 06, 2023

First post:


The kigo, "sunflower," suggests late summer, hot weather for riding a cheap bike up a steep hill. We can infer that the bike has no gears and that the hill is a challenge, because the monk needs to stand upright on the pedals, using his full body weight to turn them. Perhaps we can just see his head and shoulders bobbing above the sunflowers, his vertical axis mirroring theirs.


Given the heat, the incline and the monk's clunky bicycle, why isn't he walking it uphill, or cycling on an easier road? The answer lies in the seasonal reference. Late summer is the time when nature's vitality and vigour are at their zenith. The reader can assume that the…


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lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
Oct 07, 2023
Replying to

This helps.

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mona bedi
mona bedi
Oct 06, 2023

An intriguing ku! Would love a commentary on this Keiko.

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Keiko Izawa
Keiko Izawa
Oct 08, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, Lev, for the explanation! That’s what this haiku means.

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