SNOW AND THE LAMENT OF AN ABANDONED HUSBAND

Denver got hit with another snow—I enjoyed it. It started last night and snowed all night, there was heavy wind making it a blizzard—but perhaps not as bad as they expected. It snowed off and on all day today too, but the streets were clear fairly early in the day—-a spring snow so temperatures were not as cold as if it would have happened a month or two ago. But for that, here are some more winter haiku:

 

入り船まち也

遠島の

雪の月

 

irifune machi ya

toujima no

yuki no tsuki

 

Waiting for the boats to return!

the moon and snow

on a distant island.

 

Japan has numerous fishing villages all up and down its coast. The term 入り船まち (irifunemachi), means to wait for the boat or boats to return. But there is the usual wait for family and friends, when they expect boats to return in the late afternoon or the evening. And then there is the real wait—when a boat or group of boats are late in returning to port.

January 1st, 2010, I composed another fishing village haiku. I have mentioned several times that at the beginning of the year—the first time you do something is very special. A fishing boat in a fishing village, is not only a source of livelihood, it is is also dependent upon to protect your loved ones while they are using it to earn that livelihood—so the first time of the year that you go on a fishing boat, is not only special—they make a ceremony out of it with the village—to pray for good luck and a prosperous and safe year. This ceremony is called 乗り初め (norihajime), or First Boarding—-and you do not just come (kuru) to the boat, you ceremoniously-come (Mairu) just as you would to a shrine:

 

波と風も

お参り

乗り初め哉

 

nami to kaze mo

o-mairi

norihajime kana

 

the waves and the wind too

ceremoniously come

the first boarding!

 

Speaking of New Years, and doing things for the first time—-today I rewrote an old haiku that was a bit sloppy—-thinking it over I felt it was better expressed through a tanka. I was thinking of so many poor souls in Japan—–there are many of them—–often they are products of broken relationships, who go on quietly, doing their jobs, living their mundane lives—broken down loners in a very group-focused culture:

 

妻の捨て櫛

と着物に

忘れられた鍵

淋しき

初湯の音也

 

tsuma no sutekushi

to kimono ni

wasurerareta kagi

sabishiki

hatsuyu no oto ya

 

the wife’s discarded comb

and in a kimono

a forgotten key

how lonely

the sound of years first boiling water!

 

Is everyone depressed enough now? Here is one to bring you back up to an aesthetic reality from november 2008:

 

山道也

露霜は

月にちらちら

 

yamamichi ya

tsuyujimo wa

tsuki ni chirachira

 

the mountain path!

frozen dew

sparkling from the moon

 

There’s that moon again—I have written numerous times about the philosophical significance of the moon. For example, you may go back to HOME ALONE ON A WINDY NIGHT WITH A CHINESE LUTE if you forget it—-or not, and just enjoy it at an aesthetic level.

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HAPPY FIRST TIME

In my first post in this blog, I mentioned that this blog originally started on another website as a joke. On New Years Day of 2013, I posted a thread for Japanese speakers, and those learning Japanese that simply said, ‘Happy Himehajime!’

There are numerous manga cartoons that make jokes of himehajime, but I don’t know if anybody ever wishes anyone a Happy Himehajime. You see—in Japan, everything done for the first time of the year is special—in fact it has a sacred quality about it. For example, Hatsuyu refers to the first time you boil water in the year. Hime means princess, and hajime means first, or beginning—so it is literally, First Princess. But it actually means to have sex for the first time of the year, so you could say, First Sex, First Congress, First Lovemaking, etc.

Here is the second post I did on that thread:
 
Over the years, I have composed numerous haiku about himehajime. I will have to find those—However my first haiku of the year (Hatsuku-or–hakku), coincidentally is on the same subject, and goes:

 

朝早い
はたらく湯女
姫初め 也

 

Asa hayai
hataraku yuna
himehajime ya.

 

Early in the morning
the working bath house prostitute
himehajime!

 

On the surface, this is Senryu, or satirical haiku. But deeper down, it has numerous other layers of meaning which touch upon a sad and often ignored pathos of life. The bath-house prostitute in old Japan was, among prostitutes, nothing like the courtesans or geisha, but rather a low ranking prostitute. My impression is that she did not even have the status, nor possibly even the skill of today’s Soapland women, the skillful prostitutes at what used to be known as Turkish Baths (Turkey took offense and forced Japan to change the name from Toruko—which meant Turkish Bath, but which also means Turkey).

So here you have a sacred act, or at least special act, being performed in the vulgar, by a girl who provides this service, easily multiple times a day. I also wrote:

 

元日に
はたらく湯女
姫初め也

 

Ganjitsu ni
hataraku yuna
himehajime ya

 

On the first day of the year
the working bath house prostitute
himehajime!

 

But this is too blatant perhaps? Early in the morning, in light of himehajime, already implies January First. This is the most important and special day of the year in Japan. It is a time for family, relaxing, eating good food… But a bath is also very important–and for the poor who cannot afford their own bath, the bath house must stay open. So even on this special sacred day, this sacred act was performed by the vulgar. One must wonder, if that particular copulation is special for either participant. Perhaps through the day and weeks, she would provide the himehajime to many lonely men. But what about her own family? Her own ability to share this once a year moment with a lover who makes her whole? And was that first customer that was her himehajime, even worthy of such an honor? Alas, she most likely had no choice in the matter—–reflecting that typical Japanese fatalism that defines the plot of so many Japanese stories…

 

Here is one from a few years ago:

 

雪降り、降りに
ばば、とじじ
姫初め

 

Yuki furi furi ni
baba to jiji
himehajime

 

As the snow falling, falling
the old lady, and the old man
himehajime