On a rainy November morning, I was playing hanafuda, a Japanese cards game featuring trees, plants and flowers for each month of the year (hana=flower, fuda=card).
The suit featured in November is the willow.
The most important card in this suit is a man with an umbrella, often referred to as ‘The Rainman’.
I noticed a frog on the card and was curious to know if there was a story behind this image of a man with an umbrella and a frog under the willow.
It turns out the man is Ono no Michikaze (“Rainman”) a famous calligrapher in in Japan.
One day, Ono no Michakaze was considering abandoning calligraphy. He went for a walk in the rain.
He saw a frog trying to grab a branch of willow.
Each time the frog jumped, the breeze would move the willow branch. The frog would try again, and the wind would move the branch again.
The calligrapher thought this frog would never reach the willow, but after seven attempts, the frog finally grabbed the willow branch.
Then, the calligrapher knew he shouldn’t give up.
He went on to become one of the most important calligraphers in Japan.
If you have a difficult project, and you feel like abandoning, think about the little frog trying to reach the willow branch.
Photos by Jessica Tremblay.
Objects: hanafuda cards by Nintendo, Japanese paper doll made by a Japanese senior, paperbag cherry tree made by a Burnaby Public Library librarian, frog figurine from a flea market.
a drop of pond
at the end of a beak
- Brad Bennett, A drop of pond
Here I am sittin’
on this stump. There’s a rabbit!
I bet he won’t jump.
- Jazz Haiku by James Emanuel, cartoon illustration by Old Pond Comics.
When I was a young poet in my twenties, it was difficult for me to explain to my parents what a haiku was since I wast just discovering it myself.
Fortunately, a teacher knew what haiku was. After he commented that the short poems I was writing were like haiku, he ordered a haiku book, loaned it to me, and that was the start of my haiku adventure.
When and how did you discover haiku?
What came first, the frog jumping or the poem?
Did you know many haiku poets are also paper artists? Among them, Terry Ann Carter, Claudia Radmore, Steve Addiss, and more, will have artwork in the international exhibit Words: Haiku on paper in Whitehorse, Yukon. The exhibit coincide with the Haiku Canada conference in May 2016.
Support the Go Fund Me campaign to receive a catalogue featuring work by your favorite artists/haiku poets. I just donated now and the process was really easy.
Thanks for sharing the campaign on Facebook and Twitter to help fellow haiku poets.
I created some haiku-origami pieces for the exhibit. Not sure if they’ll be in the final exhibit or not. I mean, I was told they will be, but it seems unbelievable that my work would be exhibited next to international artists, so I’ll believe it when I see it.
I’m keeping the final artworks a secret, but you’ll find above an earlier version of “Childless” with the frog origami not yet mounted.
Any artwork not selected for the final show will be featured in store windows on Main street during the conference. It’s gonna be great to see haiku everywhere in Whitehorse during the Haiku Canada conference. Thanks to Helen O’Connor for curating the exhibit.
This month, I’ll be making comics based on the prompts from the National Haiku Writing Month challenge. All themes will start with the letter Z it seems.
Here’s my zebra comic.