Paulownia KIRI


桐の花 雨上がりの 霧に消え

mist merges
with heavy rainclouds -
paulownia flowers

after the storm -
paulownia blossoms
in each puddle


桐の花 見上げて空の笑顔かな

paulownia buds -
and then looking up
to the smiling sky

kigo for early summer
paulownia flowers, kiri no hana 桐の花
..... hanakiri 花桐(はなきり)

The trees grow stright to a great hight, and the flowers are right in the four directions high up there. They convey a sense of straightness. In haiku, looking up at the flowers is often a theme.

aburagiri no hana 油桐の花 (あぶらぎりのはな)
flowers of Japanese tungoil tree
yamagiri 山桐(やまぎり)"mountain paulownia"
dokue、どくえ、inugiri ぬぎり
Aleurites cordata, Vernicia cordata


Paulownia is a genus of between 6–17 species (depending on taxonomic authority) of plants in the monogeneric family Paulowniaceae, related to and sometimes included in the Scrophulariaceae. They are native to much of China (its name in Chinese is 泡桐/pao1 tong2), south to northern Laos and Vietnam, and long cultivated elsewhere in eastern Asia, notably in Japan and Korea. They are deciduous trees 10–25 m tall, with large leaves 15–40 cm across, arranged in opposite pairs on the stem.
The flowers are produced in early spring on panicles 10–30 cm long, with a tubular purple corolla resembling a foxglove flower.
The fruit is a dry capsule, containing thousands of minute seeds.

Paulownia is known in Japanese as kiri (桐), specifically referring to P. tomentosa; it is also known as the "princess tree". It was once customary to plant a Paulownia tree when a baby girl was born, and then to make it into a dresser as a wedding present when she gets married. It is the badge of the government of Japan (vis-à-vis the chrysanthemum being the Imperial Seal of Japan). It is one of the suits in hanafuda, associated with the month of December. Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia states:

The genus was named in honour of Queen Anna Pavlovna of The Netherlands (1795–1865), daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia.

Paulownia wood is very light, fine-grained, soft, and warp-resistant and is used for chests, boxes, and clogs (geta). The wood is burned to make charcoal for sketching and powder for fireworks, the bark is made into a dye, and the leaves are used in vermicide preparations.

 © Wikipedia

Some other types of paulownia in Japan

aogiri アオギリ【青桐、梧桐】
akigiri アキギリ【秋桐】
aburagiri アブラギリ【油桐】
iigiri イイギリ【飯桐、椅】
harigiri ハリギリ【針桐】
higiri ヒギリ【緋桐】


"autumn of the paulownia, dooshuu 桐秋(とうしゅう)

kigo for early autumn

Category : Season

kiri hitoha 桐一葉 (きりひとは) one paulownia leaf
..... hitoha, hito ha 一葉(ひとは)one leaf
..... ichiyo
hitoha otsu 一葉落つ(ひとはおつ)one leaf falls
hitoha no aki 一葉の秋(ひとはのあき)autumn of one leaf
kiri no aki 桐の秋(きりのあき)paulownia in autumn

(Some saijiki place this kigo in early winter).

CLICK for more photos

kiri hitoha ochite tenka no aki o shiru

one paulownia leaf
has fallen - now we know
the heavenly autumn is coming

Ichi yo ochite tenka-no aki-wo shiru
(With the fall of one we know that autumn as come to the country.
When one leaf has fallen, it is known that autumn is coming.
A single leaf flutters in the air and it's autumn.)

Katagiri Katsumoto 片桐且元 (1556 - 1615)
He was a retainer of Toyoyomi Hideyoshi.
He was driven in exile just before the Battle of Osaka, when he then wrote this haiku.

source : tenkomori.tv


Basho writes to his friend Ransetsu:

sabishisa o toote kurenu ka kiri hitoha

A paulownia leaf has fallen :
Will you not come to me
In my loneliness?

Matsuo Basho
source : Emily Evans

Will you not call on me in my loneliness?
A paulownia leaf has fallen.

A paulownia leaf has fallen in my garden, and lonesomeness overwhelmes me.
Will you please come and see me, my dear friend?

Classic Haiku:
An Anthology of Poems by Basho and His Followers
source : books.google.co.jp

A paulonia leaf has fallen;
Will you not visit
My loneliness?

source : 王貞治さん

cette solitude
viendrais-tu la partager ?
feuille de paulownia

source : nekojita.free.fr

yorube o itsu hitoha ni mushi no tabine kana

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


kiri hito ha futa ha mi ha yo ha sewashina ya

one paulownia leaf
and two, three, four -
how busily bustling

Kobayashi Issa

sewashinai 忙しない

. Numbers used in Kigo .

Tr. and comment by Chris Drake

kiri hito ha futa ha mi ha yo ha sewashina ya

a paulownia leaf falls,
a second, a third, a fourth --
what's the big hurry?

This hokku is from the beginning of the 7th month (August, early September), the first month of lunar autumn. In it Issa plays on an ancient Chinese saying which became a kigo season phrase in Japanese.
In the ancient Chinese anthology of philosophical writings known as Huainanzi (139 BCE, in Japanese Enanji), the phrase "knowing autumn has come by seeing a single Paulownia leaf fall" is a metaphorical expression meaning "recognizing a big change is coming before it comes by noticing a tiny change."

This Daoist approach took on a more Buddhist tone when the phrase was read in translation in Japan, where it was mostly used to mean "seeing a paulownia leaf fall and recognizing that all flourishing things soon decay and die." As a kigo in haikai, the literal meaning of seeing a paulownia leaf flutter down is stressed, and the phrase indicates that lunar autumn has almost imperceptibly just begun.

Paulownia leaves are heavy and very large (often the size of a hand-held fan or larger), and they fall earlier than most leaves, so the phrase is literally an image of autumn just beginning. Thus Issa's diary for the 7th month of 1812 has several hokku about paulownia leaves falling at the very beginning of the month, when there are few other signs that autumn has already begun. However, Issa goes beyond the standard image and evokes a second large leaf falling, followed by a third, and then a fourth. The second line sounds like someone welcoming the leaves to the ground by singing a song out loud, and Issa's reaction to the small profusion of leaves is humorous, but at the same time there is a suggestion of the deeper meaning of the original saying: if a single paulownia leaf foretells big changes in the near future, then four leaves must mean that the changes will be really big -- and they may be coming very soon.

Issa may well be thinking of Buddhism and the Pure land here as well. Four leaves falling instead of one is a very clear reminder that all things constantly and often unexpectedly change and that death and life are inseparable. Four falling leaves, then, might give Issa a sudden gut feeling of how near the Pure Land is. In fact, placed a few hokku earlier in Issa's diary are these two hokku:

nembutsu ni byoo no tsukishi hitoha kana

a single leaf
falls to the rhythm
of Buddha-name chanting

kiri hitoha totemo no koto ni saihoo e

a paulownia leaf
gives itself utterly
toward the west

In the first hokku, a leaf uncannily leaves life and falls as if in harmony with someone chanting Amida's name, and in the second hokku, Issa seems certain that leaves can go to the Pure Land in the west just as fully as humans can. In this second hokku Issa seems to regard the leaf as a teacher and comrade who is demonstrating to him how to be brave and resolute and all-trusting in Amida as it leaves its limb.

With these last two hokku in mind, its seems possible that in the very first hokku above about the four leaves falling Issa may also be referring to the sound of "four" (shi), which is the same as the sound of the word for "death" (shi).
The fact that the two words are homonyms has made the number four a taboo word in certain ritual contexts in Japanese, although Issa joyously uses it, perhaps because it reminds him of the Pure Land. Issa's advice in the last line to the leaves to slow down seems to be both a humorous expression of friendship and sympathy with the leaves and a realistic recognition that time never stops. Issa is probably addressing himself as well and telling himself to relax and follow the rhythm of time created by his own relationship with Amida.

The discussion continues here:

knowing the end of the year approaches its very end by seeing a leaf fall

. Translating Issa .

- - - - -

suzushisa no taranu tokoro e hito ha kana

into a place
lacking coolness
a paulownia leaf

Tr. Chris Drake

The date of this early autumn hokku is unknown, though the time of the hokku is probably late August or early September. It's in a collection of hokku Issa sent to the Edo poet Seibi, who returned them with his evaluations, so it was probably written between 1812 and 1816.
The first fallen paulownia leaf of the season was regarded as very significant, since traditionally it was believed to mark the clear, undeniable beginning of autumn and the end of summer-like early autumn days. The hokku seems to be about a village or town or a part of one which still seems to be in late summer. It's warm there, and it "lacks" the coolness of true autumn. As if to remind the people here that time is actually passing, a single large, roughly heart-shaped paulownia leaf now lies on the ground.
The phrase "knowing autumn has come from a single fallen leaf" goes back to ancient China (see the 11/7/2012 post), and the first fallen paulownia leaf often has somber or even ominous overtones in Japanese literature. In this hokku the paulownia leaf seems to be an image suggesting time itself and inevitable change and decline, abstractions which have suddenly become all too visible and poignant through the appearance of the leaf. Perhaps Issa is also suggesting that no matter where paulownia leaves fall the weather always feels unrealistically warm and the people there are always trying to live in an illusory timeless bubble, since that is the human condition. Amida Buddha may well be in the background of this hokku.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


kigo for early autumn

kiri no mi 桐の実 (きりのみ) paulownia nut
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


kigo for late autumn

aburagiri no mi 油桐の実 (あぶらぎりのみ)nut of the Aleurites cordata
..... toyu no mi 桐油の実(とゆのみ)
Aleurites cordata. Tungbaum
It is used to make oil.

iigiri no mi 飯桐の実 (いいぎりのみ ) nut of the Iigiri
Idesia polycarpa
..... nantengiri 南天桐(なんてんぎり)

tobera no mi 海桐の実 (とべらのみ) nut of the
Pittosporum tobira


powlonia buds -
a promise of kindness
and sweetness

paulownia blossoms
Gabi Greve, Spring 2009


paulownia patterns kiri

paulownia patterns
Gabi Greve, August 2010





Anonymous said...

Our paulownia tree dared a few blossoms but now ramains drought
dormant. I am afraid we see no release from these extreme drought
conditions for early summer.

I am happy to hear yours fairs better than ours.

Take care.

ai... chibi

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gabi for the photos.
Blyth tried to describe a pawlonia tree several places in his material on haiku, but it was never very clear.
I know how he tried to make the flora and fauna [especially the uguisu and hototogisu [sp?] but they were little more than words. Your photos answered immensely.
Thanks again,P. from USA

Anonymous said...

one paulownia leaf
(kiri hitoha 桐一葉)

kigo for early autumn

hito satte andon kiete kiri hito ha

people have gone
lanterns have died...
one leaf remains

Issa / Tr. David Lanoue
More KIRI haiku !


kiri hitoha hiatari nagara ochi ni keri

a single paulownia leaf
falls; catching the sunlight
as it goes

takahama kyoshi

Tr. Takiguchi

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

kiridansu 桐箪笥 chest from paulownia wood
They were especially light and watertight in the rainy season.

more about tansu chests

Gabi Greve said...

mikazuki no hosoki kiwa yori hito ha kana

from the thin curve
of the sickle moon...
one leaf falls

Tr. David Lanoue

Shinji Ogawa writes, "This haiku depicts the loneliness of an autumn evening so beautifully and eloquently."
the cut marker KANA is at the end of line 3.

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

enokoro ga shiite nemarishi hito ha kana

the puppy sprawling
for a nap...
a fallen leaf

A good haiku leaves plenty of space for the reader's imagination to invent. I imagine (as I think of it this morning) that the puppy has been playing with the fallen leaf, which the wind was perhaps blowing about. Now, exhausted, the puppy has plopped down to sleep on top of its new toy.
- tr. and comment by David Lanoue

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