Slice of Life: Haiku Postcards

(This is part of the Slice of Life project)
This is kind of cheating, but I finally gathered up all of my haikus that I wrote on a family trip to Japan two weeks ago and created this slideshow, so it is a Slice of Life — but not immediately recent. One interesting side note, though, is that I was talking with a teacher at my son’s preschool and he mentioned that he has been writing haikus recently, too, and we are now exchanging our poems with each other. Very cool to be on a poem hand-off with another teacher.

Peace (in poems),

Japanese Advertisements — and a challenge for you

In our journeys through Japan, I kept getting a laugh out of the street advertisements — it may have been my own cultural ignorance, but I found them highly amusing.

Here are a few:

One ad in particular, which was in the Chinatown section of Yokohama, puzzled all of us. So, I challenge you to make a guess as to what it is all about. Use the Google Form to submit a guess and I will share your answers at a later date.

Here is the ad:
Japan ads (24)
Now, make your guess:

Peace (in cultural divides),

A few stray Haiku Postcards from Japan

We arrived home last night after a grueling airplane ride — nothing too dramatic, just too long, and the time changes wreak havoc with your mind … how do we land in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier in the same day that we left from Tokyo? That had my sons’ minds spinning a bit. But, we survived.

I hope to go through photos later today (as you can imagine, we have tons) and share a few out, and get a collection to show my students when I am back in the classroom tomorrow. (Yikes) One interesting side project involved a series of photos of advertisements we saw in Japan that had us scratching our heads. I hope to have my students look at them, write about what the ads are about, and then talk about advertisement techniques that travel across cultures.

Yesterday morning, we got a tour of the USS George Washington, which is an aircraft carrier where my brother-in-law is an operations officer in charge of coordinating the fleet of which the GW is the flag ship. It is an incredibly large ship that is home to thousands of sailors and pilots when it is at sea (it is in dock now, getting repairs and updates).

So, my first haiku:

A floating city
thousands of sailors living
in this labrynth

As we stood aboard the flight deck, out in the distance, we could see Mount Fuji appear in the skyline — a sight that is hard to describe. It is a stunning vision.

Almost a mirage;
Mount Fuji sits on the edge
of the horizon

During out travels, we saw beautifully crafted porcelain pottery. Bowls, cups, etc. Much of the designs have stories behind them, moving tales into artwork.

Intricate, etched blue
set against the white background
tales told: pottery

And finally, green tea is everywhere and it has a very distinct taste. One day, the kids ordered up some green tea ice cream. It was delightful, although with a strange aftertaste.

Hot liquid green tea
cooled and transformed into ice
sweet and yet, bitter

Peace (and thanks for reading my haiku postcards),

Haiku Postcards from Japan: the trains and the adventure

I did not get to post yesterday, as it was a day for great adventures: a bus ride from Tokyo to Mount Fuji, a bus ride up to a point about 7,000 feet up the incredible dormant volcano, a boat trip across a crater lake in Hakone, a gondola ride up another massive mountain that provided spectacular views of the world and Pacific Ocean, and then … the coup for my youngest son … a ride back to Tokyo on the super-fast bullet train. Wow.

One observation: the commuter trains here are brutal at rush hour — the trains are packed full and yet, no one speaks, no one communicates. It’s a small space with no sound. Unless you are Americans with five young kids and then all you hear are our voices. Also, the train waits for no one. There is a strict timetable – to the minute — and the doors close whether or not you are all the way in. There are even train employees called “pushers” that jam you into the train to make sure the doors close on time. If you have little kids, this is a bit stressful, as you might imagine.


Doors close, in or out;
This train stops for no one;
Unrelenting pace

Mount Fuji is as impressive as you might imagine — rising as a white landmark from miles and miles away. We got lucky – it was clear skies and blue and we could see all the way to the top. It was breathtaking in its beauty.

Magnificant cone;
white-capped, majestic beauty;
its power:dormant

And finally, after a gondola ride up another mountain, we were greeted by an ornate temple, standing like a sentry thousands of feet up in the air.

Red temple standing
near five volcanic craters
peaceful and serene

Peace (in poetry),


Frozen Saxophonists: a Japanese city haiku

We spent a good amoung of time outide the naval base yesterday (after getting rattled awake by a small earthquake in the morning) in order to get a sense of a Japanese shopping district. It was bustling with activity and a food court, in particular, was interesting to experience — all the different kinds of foods, exotic and strange to our Western tongues.

On the city streets, though, what intrigued me were a series of statues … of saxophonists. I play the saxophone, so I kept being pleasantly surprised to find these solitary musicians embedded into the chaos of the city streets. I guess it must be some appreciation for jazz music, although there were no explanations — just statues here and there.

Thus, today’s haiku from Japan:

Music as language;
Frozen saxophonists play
cool Japanese jazz

Peace (with city music),


From the Imperial Palace: a haiku

Tokyo is a modern city, with the ancient Imperial Palace closed up inside of it. It’s an interesting collision of the old and new. The modern Tokyo that we saw yesterday on our train and foot travels was nothing too special — just another boxy skyscraper city center. But the fortress-like walls of the Imperial City, where the Emperor and his family live, is impressive — moats, walls, stately buildings on the rocky outcropping of the hills. We had hoped to get inside and see the gardens, but all access was closed off and so we had to use our imagination for what it might be like to be so cloistered.

Here is my Tokyo-Imperial Palace haiku:

Modern city, guard;
protecting the past from this:
concrete invasion

Peace (outside the walls),


Japanese Shrine: A haiku reflection

Yesterday, we wandered many streets of the surrounding Japanese cities — getting a glimpse of the Japanese culture far from the well-traveled roads. It’s hard to avoid the observation that this island is cramped, with narrow streets, narrow sidewalks and bustling activity everywhere.

We also visited two important cultural places — a giant Buddha (we even went inside the belly of the Buddha, which should be the name of a rock band, as Dave Barry used to say in his columns) and a beautiful temple shrine complex. Both sites are hundreds of years old. The temple, in particular, was astounding, using the landscape to capture the essence of spirituality.

I wrote this haiku to capture my thoughts of the shrine:

A water whisper:
Music amid the temples;
we walk silent paths

The site is known as Tsurogaoka Hachimangue Shrine and it is in Kamakura.

Peace (in 5-7-5),


My Haiku Project from Japan

We arrived .. sanity intact.

I am keeping a journal of our visit here in Japan (of course) and my goal is to write at least one haiku each day while we are here. A short poem to capture the experience. I’ll get on here and blog the haikus when I can and when I have time.

This poem is about losing an entire day as we skipped across time zones.

Hurdling time zones
like jumping picket fences
Everything stands still

Peace (from the land of the rising sun),