On August 26, I visited 象潟(Kisakata), 秋田(Akita) and took some pictures of the spots referred to in『奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ .

I also wrote some haiku there. I’d like to post some pictures and haiku.

松尾芭蕉( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) arrived at Kisakata on the evening of August 1, 1689, when a misty rain started to fall, obscuring Chokai Mountain.

The next morning the weather cleared beautifully. When the morning sun rose in all its splendor, Basho and his party took a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata. They put in first 能因島 (Nohin jima), Nohin Island, where they called at the remains of the hut in which 能因(Nohin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.


Here are the photos of Nohin Island.


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能因島・鳥海・象潟(H21) 053


My haiku is this:


(Nohin jima  nebu no hana yuki  roh shoh ju)

Nohin Island 

mimosa blossoms gone

old pine trees


After that, Basho and his party left for the opposite shore, where they landed from their boat, and they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hoshi)(1118-1190), Saigyo, who wrote of it in 1174:



Kisakata no sakura wa nami ni uzumorete hana no ue kogu ama no tsuribune

At Kisakata

A cherry tree is covered

At times by the waves;

Fishermen must row their boats

Above the cherry blossoms.


                                                                                    Translated by Donald Keene


 Then they called at the temple standing nearby. In those days it was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which is now called 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple.

Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, Basho rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water.

Now there is the stone for tying the boat with a rope (舟つなぎの石)(fune tsunagi no ishi) found behind the temple, where Basho and his party landed, tying their boat.

And we can see Mt. Chokai from there.


Here is a photo of the boat-tying stone and Mt. Chokai.


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By the way, I’d like to show you a photo of Mt. Chokai, taken at the countryside of Kisakata.


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There I wrote the following haiku:



(haku un no  Chokaisan ni  tonbo tobu)

Mt. Chokai 

rising in white clouds

dragonflies below


Here I’d like to tell you about the origin of the name ‘Mt. Chokai’.

Kanji characters, 鳥(tori), bird ,  海(umi), sea , and 山(yama), mountain, are used for that name in Japanese. This means that the mountain was filled with birds and had a wonderful view of the sea.


 Here  is a photo of the sea taken from the slope in Kisakata, which leads to the foot of Mt. Chokai.


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There I also wrote the following haiku:



(hatsu obana  umi no kanata ni  shima hitotsu)


Fresh pampas grasses

facing the horizon

lonely island


                                  ― Hidenori Hiruta




On August 3, we received an e-mail from Mr. Roy Lindquist in Norway, saying “ I just wonder if I could have any future in your Akita International Haiku Network.”

We at once answered his e-mail, saying “ It’s our great pleasure to share haiku with each other on the website.”

Since then we’ve been sharing haiku or comments through the linking websites.


RoyIdress_pp(Roy Lindquist)

According to his self-introduction, he just recently began writing haiku and he is only a new writer of haiku. We post his two haiku first of all.






Man reflects from heart

burned charcoal still warm

distant song


distant melody from mother’s heart

gray hair

still listening


These two haiku of his were written for 徳川元子(Tokugawa Motoko), who was a writer of 『遠いうた徳川伯爵夫人の七十五年』(Tooi uta- Tokugawa hakushaku fujin no nana juugo nen), ‘Distant Song : 75 years as Countess of Tokugawa’ .



Mr. Roy Lindquist met Mrs. Motoko Tokugawa, the late Countess Tokugawa, in 1968, when he was a student, and showed her around in Oslo as a guide.

During her stay in Oslo, he was given a Japanese name, 藤枝輝雄 (Fujieda Teruo), so he thinks of her as his mother. He was presented with her book in 1982. 

Mr. Roy Lindquist visited Japan twice in 1969 and 1972, and he met Mrs. Motoko Tokugawa in Tokyo. They had been corresponding with each other for more than 20 years until she passed away in Tokyo in 1989.

Remembering his stays in Japan, he wrote some haiku.


deep bow

lady not forgotten

respect of the past


last iris bloom

the woman strikes a match

in the Meiji garden pavilion


melancholy Koto tunes

face disappears

chrysanthemum embroidery on old wedding dress




Now Mr. Roy Lindquist has his own site: http://haikuroy.blogspot.com, where he publishes his own haiku almost every day. He is such an energetic haiku poet.

Here we post some of his haiku written recently.


 Persimmon tree

autumns joy



innocent child

play with words

so easy that even an adult smile


shining pearl

most beautiful

its secret is pain


click click click




On August 21, his haiku appeared on ‘the Asahi Haikuist Network by David McMurray’. 


tiny blue flower

morning glory

dew under my bare feet


This site address is: http://www.asahi.com/english/haiku/.

Last of all we hope that his haiku will be enjoyed by more and more readers in the world.


― Hidenori Hiruta


Here is a picture of a lotus flower bud.


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In 2003 I got a haiku book written by Sylvia Forges-Ryan and Edward Ryan.

Its title is “Take a Deep Breath’” ‘The Haiku Way to Inner Peace’.

Its jacket photo by Jana Leon has a flower of white and red or scarlet.  Even now I wonder whether the flower is a lotus flower or a water lily. It might be a water lily, because Sylvia Forges-Ryan wrote haiku about water lilies.

Among these lilies

in Monet’s pond

Basho’s watersound

And they noted:

Here’s that splash again, only now it brings together the spontaneity of Nature―Basho’s “watersound” ―and the art of a painted garden. Even in a pond as beautiful as Monet’s, filled with a mass of lovely water lilies, the frog still goes “pop!” The splash breaks through the stillness of the art.

In ‘HAIKU MEDITATION’ of their book, the classic haiku poem written by Basho, from which Basho’s watersound comes, is shown with their translation.

Old pond

a frog leaps in

water’s sound

They also noted:

It is about a moment―just the experience of this moment―”splash!” Every haiku is an attempt to reveal, in poetic form, such a moment, no more or less. Often the first two lines set the scene, giving the reader a context. Then in the next line the poem opens to offer a moment of insight. True haiku are carefully created so as to lead to a “splash” that sets off ripples of thought in the reader.

  Here I proceed with the main topic ‘Basho’s lotus flowers.

In 1688 Basho visited one of his disciples, 下里知足(Shimosato Chisoku) in 鳴海(Narumi), 名古屋市(Nagoya-shi). There he wrote the following haiku:


(hasu ike ya  ora de sono mama  tama matsuri) 


Lotus pond!

not – pick this as

festival – of – spirits

On the day of Basho’s visit, they held 玉祭(魂祭)(tama matsuri), festival – of – spirits, which is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed (deceased) spirits of one’s ancestors. Cut lotus flowers were among the offerings placed on the “spirit shelf” (tama dana) for this festival.

  Basho’s haiku implies that lotus flowers blooming in a small pond of his disciple’s are the very offerings as they are, even if they aren’t cut and offered on the “spirit shelf”.


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By the way, why do lotus flowers have anything to do with Buddhism?

That is because of Buddhist iconography, in which Buddha is often represented on a pink lotus. In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech, and mind as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. It is also to be noted that most Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu, Japanese, amongst other Asian deities are often are depicted as seated on a lotus flower. According to legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.   


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This summer I am reading again the haiku book, whose title is “Take a Deep Breath”, ‘The Haiku Way to Inner Peace’.

And I wrote my haiku:


(gasshou ni  iki fukamare ri  hasu no hana)

Palms joined

taking a deep breath

lotus flowers


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Last of all I’d like to refer to the viewpoint on haiku, about which Sylvia Forges-Ryan and Edward Ryan told us in their haiku book.

They noted:

Haiku are the perfect form for their exercises because they are the shortest of poems, with the longest echoes. A good haiku distills a great deal of experience into a few phrases, and sets off a chain of thoughts that expand like the ripples in a pond.


                                                                                                                                                                                    ― Hidenori  Hiruta


  Professor Alexander Dolin teaches Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University(AIU). He also writes haiku.

We would like to post haiku by Professor Alexander Dolin and his students, Mr. Brent Sanders, Ms. Lim Shi Qi and Ms. Madoka Shizukuishi.


Haiku by Alexander Dolin 



  akita sugi  shimo tsuku asa mo  ao sugi te 

Cedars in the field

(Akita cedars)

even through the frost this morning

abundantly green!



yoru fukaki  yami ni uta yomi  neko no koe

Darkness of the night

and my cat is chanting there

(waka) poems he composed…


Haiku by Brent Sanders


The sun will burn away

The magic twilight hour.

It is such a waste.


I wake before dawn

A silent world where only

  The wind outside howls.


Haiku by Lim Shi Qi


Run to far way

Till your legs plead mercy

  Till the seasons change


 I stand on the hills

Why do I still not see you

Wonder are you real


Haiku by Madoka Shizukuishi



  yuki no yo ni  tokere ba ii noni  shukudai no yama  

The piles of assignment

I hope they were snow, so that

they could melt away



ayume domo  ayume domo tooi  anata made no kyori

Look back to make sure

But still there is a long distance to you

Even I walk all day long



  okiniiri  mado no konayuki to  hotto chokore-to

My favorite winter

Breath is white and snow in sight

Sweetness of hot chocolate



ame furi ni  omoidasu nowa  haha no koe

Memory in my heart

Mother’s voice calling me soft

One rainy day



akane zora   kosumosu yure te  kimi omou

Madder red sunset

Seeing a swaying cosmos; I ask

“How have you been?”




On July 31, I visited 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple in 象潟(Kisakata), 秋田(Akita) and I discovered many things. This temple is famous for the last spot which 松尾芭蕉( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) visited during his stay in Kisakata from August 1 – 3, 1689.

According to 『奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ translated by Donald Keene, Basho and his party took a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata. They put in first 能因島 (Noin jima), Noin Island, where they visited the remains of the hut in which 能因(Noin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.

On the opposite shore, when they landed from their boat, they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hosi)(1118-1190), Saigyo, who wrote of it in  1174: 


 Kisakata no sakura wa nami ni uzumorete hana no ue kogu ama no tsuribune 


At Kisakata

A cherry tree is covered

At times by the waves;

Fishermen must row their boats

Above the cherry blossoms.  


    Translated by Donald Keene


Basho wrote on:

  “Near the water is a tomb they say is the Empress Jingu’s, and the temple standing nearby is called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji). I had never heard that the Empress had come this way. I wonder if it is true.” 

It is said that in those days there were 99 small islands and 88 lagoons there and the people enjoyed beautiful sceneries or fishing by boat around there.

However, on July 10, 1804 a big earthquake hit this area, by which the earth there upheaved by 2.4 meters and the lagoons were changed into dry land.

Now, most of those lagoons have turned into rice fields or residential areas, but there are the remains of those days left there.

Firstly, the stone for tying the boat with a rope (舟つなぎの石)(fune tsunagi no ishi) is found behind the temple.


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Secondly, the cherry tree(西行法師の歌桜)(Saigyo hoshi no uta zakura), where Saigyo is said to have written his waka poem, is also found near the boat-tying stone.


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Thirdly, the stone tablet inscribed with Basho’s haiku is found inside the temple garden. It is said to have been built in 1763 on the seventieth anniversary of Basho’s death.


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Basho wrote his haiku during his stay in Kisakata. One of them is this:


Kisakata ya  ame ni Seishi ga  nebu no hana



Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.


                                                                         Translated by Donald Keene


Now there are two statues built in front of the temple. One of them is Basho’s statue and the other is Seishi’s, who is said to have been one of the four beauties in China.


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象潟干満珠寺(H21) 004


On my way home, I hit upon the following haiku:


Seishi tatsu  Basho to tomoni  saku hanabi


Seishi standing

accompanies Basho

fireworks in bloom


                                                                                             ― Hidenori Hiruta