Short Shorts


WiK Writing Competition


WRITERS IN KYOTO presents the first annual
writing Competition: Short Shorts



(Sponsored by Tadg’s Irish Bar and Restaurant)


Theme: Kyoto (English language only)

Deadline: March 1, 2016 (midnight JST)

Genre: Short Shorts (unpublished material only)

Form: Haiku, short poems, character studies, essays, whimsy, wordplays, experimental verse, anything that helps show the spirit of place in a fresh light

Word Limit: 300 words (to fit on a single page)

Submissions: send to:
Please use Microsoft Word format, headed by the following information:
※ Full Name ※ Email Contact ※ Nationality ※ Location of Current Residence

Prizes to include Kyoto crafts generously sponsored by Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau. Winning entry to be published in the Writers in Kyoto Anthology.

Kyoto resident prize: Gourmet meal for two at Tadg’s



Some historical Kyoto Short Shorts

Even in Kyoto
I long for Kyoto
When the cuckoo sings
– Basho (1644-94)

GeishaThere is a dim moon over Higashiyama;
In the bonfires of the hazy nights
A dream lingers round the red cherries;
My thoughts are on the long hanging sleeves,
My dear Gion, and your dangling obi.
– Mikihito Nagata, from a nagauta, 1930

The flowing river never stops and yet the water never stays the same.
Foam floats upon the pools,
scattering, re-forming, never lingering long.
So it is with man
and all his dwelling places
here on earth.
– Kamo no Chomei, Hojoki, 1212 
(tr. Moriguchi and Jenkins)

Throughout the night, one hears the sound of footsteps in the corridor outside. Every now and then the sound will stop, and someone will tip on a door with just a single finger. It is pleasant to think that the woman inside can instantly recognise her visitor. Sometimes the tapping will continue for quite a while without the woman’s responding in any way. The man finally gives up, thinking that she must be asleep; but this does not please the woman, who makes a few cautious movements, with a rustle of silk clothes, so that her visitor will know she is really there. Then she hears him fanning himself as he remains standing outside the door.
– Sei Shonagon on the Imperial Palace, The Pillow Book, 1002 (tr. Ivan Morris)

Here, after all, was a city built on an imperial grid, yet curlicued with scented gardens and pretty floral canals. Here was a city still inscribed with the bloody feuds conducted in its hooded temples and dark castles, yet a city that was now a repository of all that country’s female arts. Kyoto today was the center of kimono and flower arrangement and geisha: of lacquerwork, paper umbrellas, and fans. Even the Kyoto dialect was famously a girl’s tongue, best suited to a high, melodious delivery, in which arigato became okini, and wakaranai wakarahen. ‘Every city has its sex,’ Kazantzakis had pronounced unequivocally. ‘This one is all female.’
– Pico Iyer, The Lady and the Monk, 1991

Even in Kyoto
hearing a cuckoo
Basho missed Kyoto

Basho missed Kyoto
which is just a word to me
but I hear Basho

I hear Basho when
the rain beats the windshield
and I miss the rain
– Peter Levine 
from ‘nostalgia for now’, (2014)

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