On a Ginko with Guy from Athens, GA

travels with our own haiku master, David Oates.

Featuring the Haiku of David Oates

If you’ve never had anything to do with haiku you won’t know that a ginko is “a walk with haiku writers, usually held at the start of a season or at a ‘special’ time in the season (blossoms, equinox, solstice, anniversary, etc) in a chosen place (originally in nature). During the walk the haiku writers discuss, take note or write haiku.” (Haiku Spirit).

On our 10 day Haiku Walking in Japan adventure (ostensibly one long ginko) we were fortunate to be in the company of an experienced haijun from Athens, that’s Athens, Georgia, USA. So, you may well ask, what is a haijun?

The modern Japanese dictionary (Kojien, the best one-volume dictionary in Japanese), defines haijin as:

a) A person who writes haiku as a pastime, or as an occupation ;b) A haikai master; c) A person who writes many haiku.

Others define haijin as a haiku friend or mentor or an accomplished haiku poet.

David Oates was definitely our haijun. As a poet of haiku and haiku- influenced work he has been published widely in periodicals and magazines around the world and you can see why from his poems below. David was most generous with his tips, humour, and his vast knowledge on all topics haiku and non-haiku. We are hoping a little of his expertise rubbed off on us.

who won the battle?

same as always


oh! that bald man

in the bus’ rearview

is me.

on a trip

never eaten so many things

I couldn’t identify

Photo by Gabrielle Wang

giant temple

of a feudal clan

white clouds above

full of fruit

persimmon tree —


Japan is so different

when I open my Coke Zero

it goes crack!

guided tour

in the train station

suitcase wheels rattle

after so many automatic doors

the one I’ve been waiting at


Photo Wikipedia (under creative commons).

slippers, slippers

feet the wrong size

for Japan

© David Oates, Japan, 2016 (haiku)

Intro and photos by Jan Cornall except where indicated .

David Oates, third from left, reading from our mobile haiku library on the train to Matsushima.

David Oates is a tutor, author, and performer from Athens, Georgia, USA who hosts Wordland, a public-radio show on WUGA, Athens, devoted to poetry, fiction, and comedy. David’s fiction and poetry have been published in numerous periodicals, including more than 100 haiku-influenced poems in a score of magazines from around the world.His latest publication Drunken Robins is published by Brick Road Poetry Press.

Donald was a traveller on Haiku Walking in Japan 2016. The next trip heads out in November 2017.

Read other contributions to Summer Grass here.