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Archive: Contents of American Haibun & Haiga Volume 1

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Margaret Chula


April 21, 1997

Tonight we are the guests of Ishihara Sensei, who is hosting a Japanese-style banquet for the American haiku poet delegates. Ushered into a private room, we attempt to fold our long legs under the low tables as gracefully as possible. The day has been full and satisfying, with an expedition to Toshogu Shrine and the Tokyo University Botanical Garden, where we viewed the last cherry blossoms of the year.

After we finish a delicious meal, Ishihara Sensei stands up to tell us about his philosophy of naikan zokei, introspective shaping or looking inward at the landscape of the human mind. He emphasizes the importance of expressing the truth through humor. Rather than using an original Japanese word, he says 'yû-mo-a,' which is adapted from the English.

I stretch out my legs and close my eyes to better absorb his words. Not his words, rather the intuitive meanings behind them. For he is like a Zen master offering insights to a roomful of receptive disciples. 'The first line of a poem comes from heaven.' 'The kigo is a window to the mind.' Though intriguing, I allow these ideas to slide across my mind, careful not to let them catch on any spokes. Just let the wheel turn round and around and trust that it is moving toward understanding. 'To tell the truth as if it were false. True humor does not have the artificial manipulation of fiction.' I look up at the ceiling of the banquet room, which is decorated with mirrors and plastic cherry blossoms. And in the spirit of Ishihara Sensei's 'yû-mo-a' I write

artificial blossoms
dangle from the ceiling


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