Autumn "haike" to Tanzan Shrine

Last month I joined the Hailstone Haiku group once again for their annual autumn "haike", in which we hike and write haiku. I'm no haiku expertin fact I generally have no interest in poetry. But I find haiku writing to be like photography; you want to capture a meaningful image in a beautiful way, and there's fun to be had in playing around with that concept.

What follows is my account, and some haiku written by the poets (an edited version of this appears at the official blog of the group, linked above).

Tanzan Shrine

It's a cool, early autumn morning and four pilgrims are searching for a path through Mount Goharetsu. Their destination is Tanzan Shrine and its annual "Kakitsu" festival, which is due to start in a few short hours.

Cloud shrouds the peaks
Above the plains of Asuka --
A lone kite circling

another step up
rising earth, interrupted - 
span of silver thread

The persimmon farmer talks
of a typhoon-damaged slope:
Mt. Katsuragi
wreathed in mist

Their route has taken them through the streets of Asuka from the minshuku where they had spent the previous night; into the foothills past locals growing their crops; and up among tall, straight trunks of cypress and cedar trees growing on the mountainside.

Field of golden rice 
ready for harvesting---
Ancient village, unchanged

The entomologist -
showing us his bagged live specimens
in a dreary wood

the trees close in and
catch our voices - their reply
a soft mockery

They reach the shrine, a burst of Japanese architecture, as the festival's ritual is already underway. Removing their shoes, they shuffle quietly into one wide room—open at the back to a sunlit canopy—and join the spectators. Many elaborate displays of fruit and harvest are brought from within the shrine, passing from priest to priest, to the shrill accompaniment of traditional pipes. A glimpse is seen of the statue to the enshrined deity, Fujiwara no Kamatari, which the festival honours.

For another year
priest pulls the curtain down
on the clan divinity -
his long, plaintive wail

The shinto priest:
A single green pepper
Atop his chestnut offering

The festival complete, our pilgrims head back into the sun, retrieving lunch boxes from their backpacks.

tier upon tier,
the surrounding trees are touched
by its scarlet paint