Carpe Diem #1163 geisha, the beauty of Japan


Carpe Diem #1163 geisha, the beauty of Japan

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today I’m taking a look at Geisha – The Beauty of Japan.

I hope you enjoy this post as much as I have had to study it, I learned so much, which I never knew before, it’s amazing, I never read about it before as I thought it was all about prostitutes, something my parents taught me that it was a bad thing, which ever since then I had shut my mind too.

But geisha is not like that I’m so glad I studied it.

Geisha are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills include performing various arts such as classical music, dance, games, and conversation, mainly to entertain not only male customers but also female customers today.

Apprentice geisha are called a maiko.


Photo Credit – Typical nape make-up on a maiko (Note the red collar)

A maiko is an apprentice geiko (not exactly same as geisha) in Kyoto, western Japan.

Their jobs consist of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen or the koto (traditional Japanese instruments) for visitors during feasts.

Maiko are usually aged 15 to 20 years old and become geiko after learning how to dance the traditional kyomai dances, play the shamisen, and learning Kyō-kotoba (dialect of Kyoto), regardless of their origins.

A woman above 21 is considered too old to be a maiko and becomes a full geisha upon her initiation into the geisha community.

Maiko is considered one of the great sights of Japanese tourism and look very different from fully qualified geisha. They are at the peak of traditional Japanese femininity.

The scarlet-fringed collar of a maiko’s kimono hangs very loosely in the back to accentuate the nape of the neck, which is considered a primary erotic area in Japanese sexuality.

She wears the same white makeup for her face on her nape, leaving two or sometimes three stripes of bare skin exposed.

There are three major elements of a maiko’s training.

The first is the formal art training. This takes place in special geisha schools which are found in every hanamachi.

The second element is the entertainment training which the maiko learns at various tea houses and parties by observing her onee-san.

The third is the social skill of navigating the complex social web of the hanamachi. This is done on the streets. Formal greetings, gifts, and visits are key parts of any social structure in Japan and for a maiko, they are crucial for her to build the support network she needs to survive as a geisha.

The first woman is known to have called herself geisha was a Fukagawa prostitute, in about 1750.

As they became more widespread throughout the 1760s and 1770s, many began working only as entertainers (rather than prostitutes) often in the same establishments as male geisha.

By 1800, being a geisha was considered a female occupation (though there are still a handful of male geisha working today).

There were many different classifications and ranks of geisha. Some women would have sex with their male customers, whereas others would entertain strictly with their art forms.

Prostitution was legal up until the 1900s (decade), so it was practiced in many quarters throughout Japan.

In the 1960s during Japan’s postwar economic boom, the geisha world changed. In modern Japan, girls are not sold into indentured service. Nowadays, a geisha’s sex life is her private affair.


Photo Credit – Profile of geisha Kimiha from Miyagawacho, wearing a formal black kimono and a Shimada-styled wig. Her obi is tied in the “taiko” (drum) style. All these are details which clearly distinguish her from a maiko (an apprentice).

Modern geisha still live in traditional geisha houses called okiya in areas called hanamachi (“flower towns”), particularly during their apprenticeship.

Many experienced geisha are successful enough to choose to live independently.

The elegant, high-culture world that geisha are a part of is called karyūkai  “the flower and willow world”.


Photo Credit – Geisha and two maikos. Mature geisha (center) ordinarily wear subdued clothing, makeup, and hair, contrasting with the more colorful clothing, heavy makeup, and elaborate hair of maiko (apprentices; left and right).

My tanka poem using the study of Maiko & Geisha ladies in Japan

young beautiful girls

train as maikos to become

geisha ladies very proud

they are not prostitutes

a human like you and me

Carpe Diem #1162 Ueno Iga Province, birthplace of Basho


Carpe Diem #1162 Ueno Iga Province, birthplace of Basho

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today we are taking a look at the region in which Matsuo Basho, one of the most famous haiku poet ever was born.

Basho was born in Iga Province near (nowadays) Ueno.

Basho’s birthplace is now in Mie Prefecture.


Photo Credit                                                        Iga City


The area around the modern city of Iga corresponds to a portion of ancient Iga Province.

Iga is known as the birthplace of the haiku poet Matsuo Basho and the home of the ninja Hattori Hanzo.

The city of Ueno was founded on September 10, 1941, it was often referred to as Iga-Ueno to avoid confusion with other Uenos.

Ueno is the location of Iga Ueno Castle and the Iga-ryū Ninja Museum.

On November 1, 2004, Ueno, along with the towns of Iga (former) and Ayama, and the villages of Ōyamada and Shimagahara (all from Ayama District), and the town of Aoyama (from Naga District), was merged to create the city of Iga.

Traditionally, though, the Iga region of Mie is considered to have always been a part of Kansai.

Mie Prefecture has traditionally been a link between east and west Japan, thanks largely to the Tokaido and Ise Pilgrimage Roads.

With 65% of the Mie prefecture consists of forests and with over 1,000 km (600 mi) of coastline, Mie has a long been associated with forestry and seafood industries.


Photo Credit – Iga Ueno Castle is a Japanese castle located in Iga, Mie Prefecture, Japan.

Construction on Iga Ueno Castle began in 1585, by the command of Takigawa Katsutoshi.

However, the honmaru, or innermost bailey, as well as the tenshu, or donjon, upon which the modern reconstruction was based were built by Katsutoshi’s successor, Tsutsui Sadatsugu.

Sadatsugu was then succeeded by Tōdo Takatora. Takatora renovated the honmaru, giving it 30 meters (33 yards) high walls.

This meant that the walls of the honmaru of Iga Ueno Castle were the tallest of any castle in Japan, a record that still holds.

After the threat of rebellion passed, the castle was not seen to be as important as it once was.

As a result, the tenshu was not rebuilt after it was destroyed by high winds in 1612.

Because of its beautiful architecture, and floor plan, Iga Ueno Castle is also known as “Hakuho” or “White Phoenix Castle.”

In 1935, the tenshu of Iga Ueno Castle was reconstructed out of wood.

It houses a museum which holds a collection of artifacts relating to the area’s history.

Most other parts of the castle lie in ruins, though the towering honmaru walls still stand.

The castle is now a National Historic Site and preserved in Ueno Park.

Iga Ueno NINJA Festa is the annual five-week ninja-themed festival in the Japanese city of Iga (in the former province of Iga), from April 1 to May 6.

Tens of thousands of ninja fans travel to Iga for ninja-inspired performances, competitions, and opportunities to practice ninja skills, organized to promote the city.

My tanka poem using the study of Ueno Iga Province, birthplace of Basho

mie area of forests

basho would have walked through them

reciting his thoughts

following path of nature

memories saved forever

Amanohashidate in Miyazu Japan

Amanohashidate in Miyazu Japan

This month I have been exploring the “Motherland” of haiku and Tanka, Japan.

Yesterday we had a look at Itsukushima Shrine and the Torii Gate in Japan, one of the three most beautiful sites in Japan.


Photo Credit                          NihonSankei. Three Views of Japan         

Today I’m taking a look at Amanohashidate in Miyazu, Kyoto prefecture Japan, Number two of the three most beautiful sites in Japan.

The third most beautiful sites in Japan is the Pine-clad islands of Matsushima which I wrote about at the beginning of February. 


Photo Credit – Amanohashidate view from Mt Moju0

Amanohashidate in Miyazu, Kyoto prefecture, Japan. This photograph is a view from the Amanohashidate View Land on Mt. Monju.

A thin strip of land connects two opposing sides of Miyazu Bay. This sand bar is 3.3 km long and covered with about 7,000 pine trees.

It can be viewed from mountains on either side of the bay or it can be traversed on foot. Near the southern end is Chion-ji, a Buddhist temple.

On the bar is the Isoshimizu fresh water well cherished since the Heian period, which was selected as one of 100 best springs and rivers in Japan by the Environmental Agency in 1985.


Photo Credit – Winter view of Amanohashidate in Miyazu, Japan

My tanka poem using the study of Amanohashidate in Miyazu.

unusual sandbar

covered with pine trees at sea

fresh water on bar

middle of a salty sea

must walk that track through pine trees

Torii Gate at Itsukushima Shrine in Japan

Torii Gate at Itsukushima Shrine in Japan

This month I have been exploring the “Motherland” of haiku and Tanka, Japan.


Photo Credit – Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima, Japan

Today I’m taking a look at Itsukushima Shrine and the Torii Gate in Japan, one of the three most beautiful sites in Japan.


Photo Credit – Itsukushima Gate.

The torii gate – the presence of a torii at entrances is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines

Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto Shrine (which is a Japanese ethnic religion, it focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past), and it’s on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima), in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, best known for its “floating” torii gate.

The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The torii appears to be floating only at high tide. When the tide is low, it is approachable by foot from the island.


Photo Credit – Torii low tide, from the inside of the shrine.

The shrine was designed and built on pier-like structures over the bay so that it would appear to be floating on the water, separate from the sacred island, which could be approached by the devout.


Photo Credit – Itsukushima floating shrine.

A “floating” building (Haraiden purification hall of the Marōdo auxiliary shrine) at Itsukushima Shrine

Because the island itself has been considered sacred, commoners were not allowed to set foot on it throughout much of its history to maintain its purity.

To allow pilgrims to approach, the shrine was built like a pier over the water, so that it appeared to float, separate from the land.

The red entrance gate, or torii, was built over the water for much the same reason.

Commoners had to steer their boats through the torii before approaching the shrine.

Retaining the purity of the shrine is so important that since 1878, no deaths or births have been permitted near it.

To this day, pregnant women are supposed to retreat to the mainland as the day of delivery approaches, as are the terminally ill or the very elderly whose passing has become imminent.

Burials on the island are forbidden.

Originally it was a pure Shinto shrine “where no births or deaths were allowed to cause pollution.

My tanka poem using the study of Torii Gate at Itsukushima Shrine in Japan.

Itsukushima shrine

beautiful sacred island

torii gate famous

looks like floating on water

what about stormy weather

Carpe Diem #1161 Matsuyama City birth-place of Masaoka Shiki


Carpe Diem #1161 Matsuyama City birth-place of Masaoka Shiki

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today we are taking a look at Matsuyama City birth-place of Masaoka Shiki.


Photo Credit – Masaoka Shiki.

Masaoka Shiki October 14, 1867 – September 19, 1902), pen-name of Masaoka Noboru.

He was a Japanese poet, author, and literary critic in Meiji period Japan.

Shiki is regarded as a major figure in the development of modern haiku poetry.

He also wrote on reform of tanka poetry.

Some consider Masaoka Shiki to be one of the four great haiku masters, the others being Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa, which I have written about in the last couple of weeks

Shiki suffered from tuberculosis (TB) much of his life.

In 1888 or 1889 he began coughing up blood and soon adopted the pen-name Shiki from the Japanese hototogisu, which is a word usually translated as cuckoo.

It is a Japanese concept that this bird coughs blood as it sings, which explains why the name “Shiki” was adopted.

He died of Tuberculosis in 1902 at age 34.

Shiki, or rather Tsunenori as he was originally named was born in Matsuyama City in Iyo province (present day Ehime prefecture) it is in northwestern Shikoku, Japan.

The capital is Matsuyama.


Photo Credit – Matsuyama castle

Matsuyama Castle is a flatland-mountain castle that was built in 1603 on Mount Katsuyama, whose height is 132 meters, in Matsuyama city in Ehime Prefecture in Japan

After the Battle of Sekigahara, the Tokugawa shogun gave the area to his allies, including Kato Yoshiaki who built Matsuyama Castle, forming the basis for the modern city of Matsuyama.


Photo Credit – Matsuyama-Panorama.

A panoramic view of the city from Matsuyama Castle

My tanka poem using the study of Masaoka Shiki as a prompt

modern haiku poems

was masaoka shiki

died very young with tb

its sad nature can be hard

look that bridge is in heaven

Carpe Diem #1160 Kema, birth-place of Yosa Buson


Carpe Diem #1160 Kema, birth-place of Yosa Buson

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today I’m taking a look at Kema, birth-place of Yosa Buson.


Photo Credit                                            Osaka  Castle

Looking for information about Kema-cho, Miyakojima Ward in Osaka city hasn’t been very successful, so I will now write what I have found out about Yosa Buson a (Haiku Master).

Yosa Buson original surname Taniguchi, Born 1716 – January 17, 1784  in the village of Kema in Settsu Province, (now Kema-cho, Miyakojima Ward in Osaka city).

He learned poetry under the tutelage of the haikai master Hayano Hajin.

Yosa Buson settled in the city of Kyoto at the age of 42.

It is around this time that he began to write under the name of Yosa, which he took from his mother’s birthplace (Yosa in the province of Tango).

Yosa Buson married at the age of 45 and had one daughter, Kuno. From this point on, he remained in Kyoto, writing and teaching poetry at the Sumiya.

He died at the age of 68 and was buried at Konpuku-ji in Kyoto.


Photo Credit                                             Yosa Buson Grave.

Yosa Buson’s grave is also located at the temple.

Little History of Konpuku-ji in Kyoto Japan

It is a Zen Buddhist temple in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan.

During the Genroku era (1688-1704), the temple was restored by Tesshu from the nearby Enkō-ji, and acted as a branch of that temple. It was also converted to the Rinzai sect.

When Matsuo Bashō traveled to Kyoto to visit his friend Tesshu, he stayed in a thatched hut in the back of the garden, and after some time, the hut was named Basho-an.

However, it fell into ruin, and in 1776 Yosa Buson restored it.

The thatched roof hut stands on the east side of the garden, and inside is a tea room.

My tanka poem using the study of Yosa Buson.

yosa buson poet

haiku star seventeenth century

kind hearted loved life

feels good reading about him

painted in the stars above

Weekly Tanka Prompt Challenge – Week 33 – Children & Wonderland

Weekly Tanka Prompt Challenge – Week 33 – Children & Wonderland


Photo Credit  #weeklytankachallenge -33

Simple Guidelines.

Take the words “Children & Wonderland” and write a tanka poem.

English tanka poetry consists of five units, usually with the following pattern of    5-7-5-7-7 which is syllables.

  1. You can use the picture above, your own or no picture at all.

Copy and paste the link of your finished tanka in the comments below, I will acknowledge them the following week, also share on social networks.

My tanka poem  – using the words “Children & Wonderland”.

children love summer

living in a wonderland

young ones play to learn

remembering my childhood

playing with a hula hoop

Bloggers that entered “Weekly Tanka Challenge – Week 32 – “bridges & home”. Thank you.

The Bag Lady

Reinventions Reena


S. Writings


Mick E Talbot

Bgkskalata – Reblogged

Carpe Diem #1159 Matto, birthplace of Chiyo-Ni


Carpe Diem #1159 Matto, birthplace of Chiyo-Ni

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today we are taking a look Matto – Birthplace of Chiyo-Ni

Matto, is a village in Kaga Province, now Hakusan Ishikawa Prefecture Japan.


Photo Credit                 Hakusan city office

Matto also is known as the city that never sleeps, unfortunately, doesn’t exist anymore because in 2005 it became part of the new town Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture.

The modern city of Hakusan was established on February 1, 2005, from the merger of the city of Matto, and the towns of Mikawa and Tsurugi, and the villages Kawachi, Oguchi, Shiramine, Torigoe and Yoshinodani (all from Ishikawa District).

Eleven cities are located in Ishikawa Prefecture.


Photo Credit  –     Mount Hakusan from east of Hakusan Mountains, Honshu, Japan.

Who is Chiyo-Ni?

Fukuda Chiyo-ni 1703 – 2 October 1775) Born in Matto, she was a Japanese Poet of the Edo period, widely regarded as one of the greatest female haiku poets.

Chiyo-ni began writing haiku poetry at age 7.

By the age of 17, she had become very popular all over Japan for her poetry.


Photo Credit – Chiyo-ni standing beside a well. This woodcut by Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrates her most famous haiku: finding a bucket entangled in the vines of a morning glory, she will go ask for water rather than disturb the flower.

Her poems, although mostly dealing with nature, work for a unity of nature with humanity.

She is perhaps best known for the haiku below

morning glory!
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water

Today, the morning glory is a favorite flower for the people of her hometown, because she left a number of poems on that flower.

If you would like to read more of her poems Click here. 

Chiyo-ni’s teachers were the students of Basho, and she stayed true to his style, although she did develop on her own as an independent figure.

After becoming a nun, Chiyo took the Buddhist name, Soen.

My tanka poem using prompt of the study of Matto – a village in Kaga Province, now Hakusan Ishikawa Prefecture.


new name old name still the same

beauty never leaves

breaking away from old poets

new poets writing haiku

Carpe Diem #1158 Kashiwabara, birth-place of Kobayashi Issa


Carpe Diem #1158 Kashiwabara, birth-place of Kobayashi Issa

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today we are taking a look Kashiwabara, the birthplace of Kobayashi Issa,  Born June 15, 1763 – January 5, 1828) he was a Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jodo Shinshu sect known for his haiku poems and journals.

He is better known as simply Issa, a pen name meaning Cup-of-tea, he wrote over 20,000 haiku, which have won him readers up to the present day.

Reflecting the popularity and interest in Issa as man and poet, Japanese books on Issa outnumber those on Buson and almost equal in number those on Basho.

He wrote a diary, now called Last Days of Issa’s Father.

More information on Kobayashi Issa

A little about Jodo Shinshu

It means“The True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching”  also known as Shin Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism.

It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran.

Shin Buddhism is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan, with 20% of the population of Japan identifying as members of the sect.


Kashiwabara, Shinano Province, Nagano Prefecture

My tanka poem using the study of Kobayashi Issa a Haiku poet

lost mother at young age

troubled child with step mother

unhappy with life

searching but not finding peace

life unhappy many losses

Carpe Diem #1157 Sakura, the national pride of Japan


Carpe Diem #1157 Sakura, the national pride of Japan

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today we are taking a look Sakura, Cherry Blossom.

The National Pride of Japan.

Welcome to Japan’s pink and modern world of cherry blossoms.

It is impossible to think of springtime Japan without an iconic image of a sea of cherry trees awash with perfect pink blooms instantly coming to mind.

Japan has a wide variety of cherry blossoms (sakura); well over 200 cultivars can be found there.

The most popular variety of cherry blossom in Japan is the Somei Yoshino. Its flowers are nearly pure white, tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem.

They bloom and usually fall within a week before the leaves come out.

Therefore, the trees look nearly white from top to bottom.


Photo Credit  “Hanami” is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming sakura or ume tree.

The custom is said to have started during the Nara Period (710–794) when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning.

By the Heian Period (794–1185), cherry blossoms came to attract more attention and hanami was synonymous with sakura.

From then on, in both waka and haiku, “flowers” ( hana?) meant “cherry blossoms”.

The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well.

Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this.


Photo Credit                                        Himeji Castle, Japan

Did you know?

Cherry blossoms and leaves are edible and both are used as food ingredients in Japan.


Photo Credit 

Sakurayu is a Japanese infusion created by seeping pickled cherry blossoms with boiled water.

This combination becomes a type of herbal tea and has been enjoyed in East Asian culture for many generations.

The main ingredient, cherry blossoms petals, are harvested when the cherry trees bloom from mid to late spring.

After the calyxes are removed, the petals are then pickled in plum vinegar and salt and the product subsequently dried.

The dried cherry blossoms are then stored or sealed in tea packets and sold.

In order to produce sakurayu, a few such dried, salt-pickled blossoms must be sprinkled into a cup of hot water.

Once covered in hot water, the collapsed petals unfurl and float.

The herbal tea is then allowed to steep until the flavor reaches its desired intensity.

The resulting drink tastes slightly salty.

“Sakura-yu” is served at weddings as it represents “beginning,” which is most appropriate for a wedding.

My tanka poem using the study of Sakura – Cherry Blossom

cherry blossom petals

pickled in plum vinegar

perfect herbal tea

prefer white wine at weddings

instead – salt pickled petals