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Haiga

Every culture has its own characteristics. What do you associate Japan with? Fujiyama, geisha, technology, Carry-Okie.... By the way, why "Fujiyama"? Nobody in Japan calls it that. Actually, it's "Fuji-san"!

Japanese culture is rich in traditional arts as well - kabuki, noh, kyogen, haiku, tanka and that. But the reality is that most of us are not so familiar with them now. I must admit I'm not either. It's a shame. And it's kind of fun and at the same time ironic that I stumble upon English websites that explain various aspects of Japanese traditional stuff and I learn a lot from them these days.

Meanwhile, with regard to MNW's comment about Ban'ya Natsuishi, a Japanese haiku poet, on my "Iguanas" entry, Mr. Kuni Shimazu recently posted about his website "see haiku here," where he displays a lot of his works of digital haiga (visualized haiku) collaborated with haiku poets from all over the world.

Haiku comes with brevity, but talks a lot. For someone who is not familiar with haiku like me, it's often difficult to know what a certain haiku indicates. Haiga will stimulate your imagination. Just go and see some. I like this one.

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Comments

Lacquerware.

You know...an old-fashioned word in English for something that is lacquered is "japanned"--just like the word synonymous with porcelain is "china".

Actually...I associate a lot of things with Japan. I'm going to have to track back to you on this one.

Yeah, I know lacquerware is called "japan," but didn't know the use of "japanned"!

OK, I'm looking forward to your entry.

Maybe it’s inevitable that people from one country would associate certain stereotypical characteristics with people from another, that is, until people get to know each other. When I think of Japan, there arise associations with the traditional arts, as you say, but also with bullet trains, martial arts, gardens, baseball, samurai, and sushi. But these are only the quick, surface impressions, often introduced or reinforced by mass media. Going a little deeper, I personally think of a closeness to nature and an unusual aesthetic sensitivity. Really, when I think about it, it’s interesting how often I come into contact with things Japanese. Last night, for example, my wife and I went to the local college to see the Akira Kurosawa film “High and Low”, really good noir, BTW. There are two Japanese gardens in our area, which I visit often. And one of my favorite foods is sushi; I especially like a cafeteria-style place called Pacific Buffet.

…And, of course, there’s haiku. I’ve met several Japanese haiku poets (“haijin” is the word I’ve heard used), Ban’ya included, but also Susumu Takiguchi out of Oxford, UK, and Fay Aoyagi in San Francisco. And several English-language haiku poets, too. So many of the names on Kuni Shimazu’s website are familiar to me. What a shining gift Japan has given to the world in the form of haiku. It has entered a number of other languages’ literatures. Here in North America, I think we’re trying to learn from and adapt haiku to our own cultures, to cultivate our own indigenous haiku. I’ve even tried my hand at a few haiga, with a “poem card” postcard in the works.

I very much enjoyed the particular haiku you mentioned, Kiyo. Who hasn’t seen times when sea and sky blend into one color, so that nothing is distinguishable? I know I’ve seen such things on Long Lake on my way to or from work. It’s as if I’d found the edge of the Earth, and everything just drops off into a void. That’s what I find in this haiku. And then that wave, how one whitecap can spell out an entire world. And I can’t help but feel that such a wave, besides being itself, must also be symbolic of the Earth itself in the void of space, and, beyond that, of each of our own individual lives, as well. It’s particularity I’m after, here. Look how meaning is rooted in particularity. That each of us is here gives definition and meaning to infinity.

I think you’re right, haiku stimulates the imagination. But the arts can often be so new, so trackless and unpredictable, that people can lose confidence in their own feelings about it. I think we should each go with our hearts, though. Readers bring as much to haiku as haiku brings to them.

MNW

Thanks for sharing your views, MNW. Reading the haiku and looking at the haiga, I felt the contrast of infinity and mortality, yet the mortality comes with its own meaningfulness. And your view on the haiku -- what fun! It was not until I stated blogging that I got to know haiku is popular among many Americans and can be universally so.

I put the trackback number in my "ping" box...but your site doesn't show that I've trackbacked to you. Anyway. I did write something on my first impressions.

What about you? What is your image of Texas?

Dear all,

Thank you for your interest in haiku and haiga.
If you wish, please submit our haiga contest:

WHA website is accepting haiga submissions. Submissions may include all styles of haiga from traditional brushwork to photographic and computer generated art, or other mixed mediums. The results of the judge's selection will be announced each month on this site. Haiga work that receives more than 1.50 out of 3.00 points will be displayed.

Submission Guidelines
1. One haiga per person
2. If your haiga is done on paper, scan it and send it as an email attachment. (Be sure to resize your submissions for computer screen viewing using 72dpi in a JPEG Format)
3. Haiga data will not be returned.
4. Submit your haiga to: haikubanya@mub.biglobe.ne.jp, jpandsk@worldpath.net, kuni@mahoroba.ne.jp
5. Include the following information: your full name, mail address, and email address.

Judges: Ban'ya Natsuishi, Zolo, Kuniharu Shimizu

http://www.worldhaiku.net/haiga.htm