by LB (member of the Hailstone Haiku Circle)


dangling trumpet vine
not quite reaching
the cold, clear river

on the surface of the pond
they are mirrored …
double-flowered cherry trees

the violet-blue shimmer
of a wisteria vine
entangled with moonlight

beyond the lighthouse
shrouded in spring haze …
a distant isle

Easter Sunday –
the hailstone iron kettle

April rains –
a golden carp takes shelter
under Kinkaku-Ji

a great wave –
in its aftermath
cherry blossoms


early summer evening –
a ting of coolness
bluish-white celadon

midsummer –
dropping a bucket
into a deep well

drowning the cicada’s song

the swift currents of

the Kiyotaki River

cloud-covered night
at the observatory
stunned by fireflies

early summer –
a few drops drip from an oar
in the centre of a lake

just to see it
a golden carp leaps out –
solar eclipse

mirror pond –
the only sound
the plash of a golden carp


in the caldera
the flowing lava of
crimson maples

in the stone basin –

the moment I light
a cigarette –
a lightning strike!

the sound of a flute
through the pines –
faintly autumn

climbing a mountain –
deeper and deeper
into autumn

trashed folding screen –
the ginkgo covers it again
in gold leaf

branches of the pine
already bent into shape
the autumn wind

at the traffic lights –
autumn mountains

autumn moon –
peeking through
indigo curtains


light snowfall –
the crackle of charcoal embers
in the tea room

a metre of snow –
it slips off
with a thud


Old Roads –

Rounding a bend,  I pulled out of the narrow river-valley road into the vast expanse, framed by shaggy cedar and bamboo-covered mountain slopes. A pale mist clung to the slopes, the patchwork of fields, which on my last visit was dry & brown, was now covered with a fresh sprinkling of January snow. I followed the narrow roads clustered at the foot of the mountains and passed a shrine & a bamboo grove that concealed ancient kiln sites from various centuries. The morning sun shone dimly through the haze of a silvery-gray sky as I passed an old crumbling climbing kiln that had seen its last firing a century ago & pulled up the bumpy drive leading to Sawa Kiyotsugu’s studio with its pair of wood-burning kilns.

I got out of the car & stared momentarily at the star-encrusted soil (the crusty nature of the soil here is due to the abundance of feldspar granules which characterises the works of the local potters). Sawa sensei’s studio with its tiled roof & weathered beams had the usual artistic disarray of pots scattered around, some were placed on plinths. As I was admiring their natural fired textures the master potter appeared. I was here to help with the firing. We split some logs, cleaned the kiln shelves & prepared the kiln loading. As it grew dark I headed back into town & stayed for the night at a nearby inn.

Next morning we finished the loading: traditional water containers for tea-ceremony, large tsubo jars, tea bowls, gourd-shaped saké flasks & flower vases.Then we closed the mouth of the kiln with bricks & mortar, leaving a gap at the base for a small bundle of twigs to start the firing. We offered saké to the kiln gods & sprinkled salt for purification, after bowing to the altar, we lit the fire. As twilight was setting in, a light snow began to fall which soon turned to sleet, it was soon time to return to Kyoto.

Under these pine-covered hillsides
Of remnant snow …
We light a fire

(Shigaraki, Jan. 2014)