Eastward ho!

“mountain meadow” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

“mountain meadow” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

At the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington last fall, we started with a fun icebreaker: write down five items from your bucket list, then walk around the room and share with other participants. (For more about Seabeck, see The path unfolds.)

After the exercise, my daughter Maya and I compared lists. I definitely don’t share her dream of working a stint as a bartender! But it turns out that we both had the exact same number one wish: to travel to Japan as a family.

Meanwhile, Makino Studios turned five years old in March. Thinking about how to mark this milestone, I remembered the bucket list exercise. It occurred to me that the best way to celebrate would be to use some of my earnings to take our family to Japan. How fitting that a business that draws deeply from the traditions of Japanese art and haiku would enable us to travel there.

So we are off early next month for three weeks of exploration and adventure! This will be the first trip to Japan for our teens; it is the fourth trip for me and the second for my husband Paul. My sister Yoshi will join us for the first and last few days of the trip.

Our itinerary includes visiting Japanese relatives in Tokyo and touring the venerable 320-year old Makino sake factory in Takasaki. We’ll also see the Makino temple and a cemetery there containing family tombs from ten generations.

My mother, sisters and I (standing, left) wear kimonos sent from Japan by my grandparents. (Santa Monica, California, 1969.)

My mother, sisters and I (standing, left) wear kimonos sent from Japan by my grandparents. (Santa Monica, California, 1969.)

I’m also excited to hike along the ancient Nakasendo trail in the Japanese alps, where stone tablets commemorate visits by revered haiku poets Basho and Shiki. We will soak in hot springs and explore Japanese temples, gardens, castles, and museums.

To experience Japanese life more deeply, we will mainly stay in ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and a variety of homes booked through Airbnb. As lovers of Japanese cuisine, we are especially excited about the food! I imagine I’ll find much artistic inspiration throughout.

While the earnings from my art business are modest, the psychic rewards are incalculable. (I just don’t think I’d feel the same about bartending.) To all my store buyers, customers and supporters over the past five years, I bow in thanks.

salt breeze
all the countries
on my bucket list

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

ukiaHaiku Awards: At the ukiaHaiku Festival on April 24, this poem of mine won second place in the Jane Reichhold International Prize, out of 412 entries from six continents:

with divorce rates
mating butterflies

And this one took third in the Dori Anderson Prize for haiku about Ukiah:

a row of raindrops
hanging on the clothesline—

manzanita blossoms

Newest stores: The list of Makino Studios card retailers now includes Down to Earth in Eugene, Oregon; Three Sisters in Ukiah; and Swish Healdsburg in Healdsburg, California. If there is no store in your area, you can order online through my Etsy shop.

Order by June 1: As I’ll be traveling in Japan, I will not be able to fill online or store orders between June 2 and June 28.

Connecting: I appreciate the kind responses to my last post, on International Haiku Day. You can get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

Publication credit: “salt breeze” was published in Exhaling, the Seabeck 2015 anthology; it tied for second place in the Seabeck kukai (a haiku contest determined by participating poets).

Lights out

“what remains” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

“what remains” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

My son Gabriel is an unusual kid: while other twelve-year old boys like to play video games, he prefers to watch BBC science documentaries. So much so, in fact, that his dreams have included a narrator with a British accent.

He has matter-of-factly explained to me that the average mammal species lasts about one million years. On a planet more than four billion years old, that’s the blink of an eye. This means that Homo sapiens, the clever species that tamed fire and invented the iPhone, could be gone before we know it.

lights out
we discuss
our extinction

What with all the grocery lists and oil changes of everyday life, it’s easy to lose the grand perspective. But the truth is that for all our striving, even the most influential and famous of our species—President Obama, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey—will be forgotten long before the pebbles on the beach turn to sand.

Yes, there is something sad about all this. Billions of people work hard every day to make it through this life and to leave something of lasting value. Yet in geological time, all this effort will amount to approximately nothing.

At the same time, I find some reassurance in taking the (very) long view. It puts our human insanities in perspective, and enables a sort of Zen detachment from the grim daily headlines. Keeping the big picture in mind helps me find a sense of lightness and acceptance of our predicament.

what remains
of the mountain
sand between my toes

OK, so nothing I can do in my time here will last longer than the flap of a butterfly’s wing. Ultimately, this helps clarify what’s really important. Not money, degrees, titles, or fame. Not even the amazing children my husband and I are raising: in a hundred years, we’ll all be history.

At the risk of sounding too woo-woo, I’ve come to feel that what matters—and what may be the only real and lasting thing—is the energy and intention that we put out in the world as we do our work. Call it spirit. Call it love. And no matter how much time we are given, no matter how long our species survives, let’s make the best of it, and call it good.

“what remains” was first published as a haiku in With Cherries on Top, Ed. Michael Dylan Welch, Press Here (2012), and reprinted in this world:Haiku Society of America Members' Anthology (2013). The art was first published on Haigaonline (December 2013).

Makino Studios News

Wet Paint: Ten new haiga (haiku paintings) have been posted to the Current Work section of the Gallery on this site.

Red Moon Anthology: The poem below was selected for a just-published collection of the best haiku of 2013, fear of dancing: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2013, edited by Jim Kacian:

some part of me
still wild

Annette’s Blog: For previous posts, including this one from June 2012 on Gabriel’s scientific perspectives, see Parallel Universes.

NaHaiWriMo: February is National Haiku Writing Month. Get daily prompts and share your efforts on the NaHaiWriMo Facebook page.