Now is late in autumn here in Akita.

Our website is full of autumn. The readers have contributed pictures and haiku about autumn from all over the world.

伊藤貞順 (Ito Teijun), a Japanese poet in Akita, presented two pictures to us. She rode on a local train from 鷹巣 (takanosu)  to 角館 (kakunodate) and enjoyed the beautiful sceneries of nature, taking some pictures of them.  



Joshua Sellers, an American poet contributed his haiku about autumn to our site.

pieces of sky

autumn drizzling

in puddles



chigire zora  aki shitataruru  mizu tamari  


 heavy fog

from pines, sounds

of dew dripping



kiiri koishi  shouju no shizuku  tsuyu no oto


 night shadows  

a lone cricket chirps,

then silence



yoru fukeru  koorogi hitori  seijaku e


 moonlit sky  

quivering crepe myrtles  

and their shadows



gekkou ni  furueru kage ya  sarusuberi


 not one word


an acorn



sasayaki no  ichigon mo nashi  donguri ka


autumn daybreak —

sunlight blazing through

 maple leaves



akino ake  momijiba kuramu  hi no hikari


Last of all we post some other haiku on the blog, ‘AKITAHAIKU’ , whose address is

 AIU俳句・鳥海山 063


Harvest time  

ears of rice bathing

in the sun



shuukaku no  hinata ni  yokusu  inaho kana


by Hidenori Hiruta, a Japanese poet



 Harvest time  

approaching winter

ready to celebrate



shuukakuji  iwai wo sonau  fuyu chikashi


by  Juhani Tikkanen, a Finnish poet



fou muin  


a freithy yill


full moon  


a frothy beer



meigetsu ya  awadatsu biiru  kamoshidasu


by John McDonald, a Scottish poet


Harvest Moon

i look for you in

other’s poems



meigetsu ya  shi no naka ku no naka  kagayakeri


by Devika Jyothi, an Indian poet


                                                              ― Hidenori  Hiruta


桝田愛佳(Masuda Aikabegan painting haiga in her elementary school days.

In summer, 2008, her mother, 桝田純子(Masuda Junko), and David Ferron, an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Akita City, Akita, Japan, took up haiga by Masuda Aika as their haiga project.

We post their haiga project on the website, dividing it into three stages.

We hope that you will appreciate haiga by an elementary schoolgirl in Akita.


Ms. Masudas and Davids Haiga Project


わたしと俳画  Haiga and me


Akita Municipal Sotoasahikawa Elementary School

 六年一組 Sixth grade, First class

 桝田愛佳 Masuda Aika

始めたきっかけ  Why did I start?


I heard that when my mom said to an acquaintance of hers, “My Aika likes paintings,” she replied, “My mother teaches haiga. Would like to try it?”


When I heard this I thought it sounded interesting, so I took some lessons.

北潟先生のこと  Ms. Kitagata


Even though Ms. Kitagata is over eighty years old she is a very gentle teacher who knows a lot.


Her real name is Kitagata Sachie, but when she makes haiga it is Kitagata Shiho.

愛佳俳画 006

愛佳俳画 008

愛佳俳画 007

愛佳俳画 009

せつせつと                  せつせつと

眼まで濡らして           めまでぬらして

髪洗ふ                        かみあらう

節子句                        せつこく

愛佳                           あいか


Eyes get wet

When hair’s washed

愛佳俳画 010

マスカット                  マスカット

おいしく食べし           おいしくたべし

夜食後                        やしょくあと

愛佳                           あいか

Muscat grapes

Deliciously eaten

After dinner

愛佳俳画 011

愛佳                あいか

山の雲             やまのくも     

いけしまま      いけしまま

松立てにけり   まつたてにけり

章句                あきらく

Pine trees stood

In the mountain clouds      

Like arranged flowers

愛佳俳画 012

愛佳                           あいか

十五夜の                     じゅうごやの

雲のあそびて              くものあそびて

かぎりなし                  かぎりなし

夜半句                        やはんく

For fifteen nights

The clouds played


愛佳俳画 013

愛佳                あいか

冬に入る          ふゆにはいる

山国の紺          やまごくのこん

女学生             じょがくせい

Headed into winter

The mountain country’s dark blue


愛佳俳画 014

牡丹雪                        ぼたんゆき

地に近づきて              ちにちかづきて

迅く落つ                     はやくおつ

六林男句                     むりおく

愛佳                           あいか

十才                           じゅうさい

Large snowflakes

Come towards the ground

And swiftly fall

愛佳俳画 015

金銀の                        きんぎんの

紙ほどの幸                 かみほどのさち

クリスマス                  クリスマス

欣一句                        きんいちく

愛佳                           あいか

Gold and silver

Little joy-filled paper

At Christmas

(To  be continued)


 ― Posted by  Hidenori  Hiruta 


On July 15, we received two comments for ‘Akita International Haiku Network’ from Scotland. Mr. John McDonald sent his comments to us for encouragement, saying ‘Good Luck!’. He was the first haiku poet to send us comments and presented us with his haiku books.

I’d like to take up one of his haiku books, whose title is ‘THE THROU-GAUN CHIEL’.

I post some of his haiku, showing my free translations of them in Japanese to you.

 In his e-mail, Mr. John McDonald noted: In Scotland we have two languages one is Gaelic(which is a Celtic language) and the other – the one I write in – is a Germanic language brought to the British isles from Saxony ( old German ) It was the original english language and the original Scottish language ( in the lowlands of Scotland only – Gaelic was in the highlands )  The language was then refined in England, to become present day english, but in scotland it remained for many years ( mainly 17th, 17th centuries and then was replaced by present day english.) but a few of us like to keep the old language alive hence my poetry ( and some of it indeed still spoken in some areas).

  Here I’d like to show you some scots haiku in his native language as well as in English, and my free translations of them in Japanese. I hope that you’ll enjoy scots haiku.

slaw watter

takkin in the licht

jowellin the troot

slow water

taking in the light

jewelling the trout




danryuu no  torauto kazaru  kuraki chi ni  



drameit o a draigon –

the riven bouk

clootit wi a haiku


dreamt of a kite

the torn body

patched with a haiku




Takono yume  chigire tsukurou  ikku kana



in the clessroom winnock

new bulbs



in the classroom window

new bulbs





Kyousitsu no  mado ni me wo fuku  sinne kana



thigger wifie –

her sheddae

skiffs me


beggar woman –

her shadow  

touches me




Monogoi me  watashi ni fureru  kageboushi



cumulus cluds


pander by


cumulus clouds


drift by




Watagumo ni  hakuchou no mure  ukabi keri



― Hidenori  Hiruta


On September 30, the activities of our network were reported in the Akita Sakigake newspapers (秋田魁新報:Akita Sakigake Shinpou).

 That afternoon one of the readers sent to us haiku about ‘autumn rice fields’ , or ‘秋の稲田(aki no inada)’ .  The Kanji characters ‘ 秋田‘  are used as the name of Akita City and Akita Prefecture.

The reader is a haiku poet named 伊藤貞順 (Itoh Teijun) living in 能代市 (Noshiro-shi) , Akita.  She also sent us a beautiful picture of the golden rice fields in the countryside.


First of all I’d like to post her haiku.


akizora ni  kiiro kagayaku  inaho  kana  


Under autumn sky

their yellow color is shining

ears of rice



shuukaku ni  inaho katamuku  kiiro kana


For harvest

ears of rice bending down

how yellow!



konjiki no  inaho ni kansha  aki no sora


A lot of thanks

for golden ears of rice

autumn sky



akino kaze  kiiro no unabara  ine minoru


Autumn wind

rice ripen in fields

like a yellow sea


Secondly, I’d like to show you a picture I took at the foot of Mt. Taihei (太平山 Taiheizan) in Akita, and my haiku.

 太平山(1) 006


ten takashi  inada mimamoru  Taiheizan


Mt. Taihei

watching rice fields

autumn high skies


Last of all, I’d like to show you haiku written by Matsuo Basho on ‘the Narrow Road to Oku’, in 1689.



wase no ka ya  wakeiru migi wa  Arisoumi


Sweet-smelling rice fields!

To our right as we push through,

The Ariso Sea.

          Translated by Donald keene



― Hidenori  Hiruta




On September 14, Mr. Joshua Sellers gave us his comment on my haiku in the article ‘Basho’s stay in Kisakata, Akita(Part 1)’.

Mt. Chokai

rising in white clouds

dragonflies below


Hakuun no  choukaisan ni  tonbo tobu

He says in his comment, “This is a beautiful haiku. The contrast between the massive mountain and its stillness and the dragonflies darting about creates a truly beautiful image.”

  He also says in his e-mail, “Oh, I have a question for you…This only occurred to me today—there is a piece of music for shakuhachi(honkyoku) that is called ‘Akita Sugagaki’ (which translates as ‘reed fence’). I was curious to know if the ‘Akita’ mentioned in the title of music is the same as the town Akita?”

  Mr. Joshua Sellers enjoys playing the shakuhachi (尺八). His performance of the shakuhachi is shown on his homepage“Sketches From Life ( a haiku journal by Joshua Sellers) ”:

joshua sellers pic

   I answered his question as follows:

 「琴古流本曲 秋田菅垣


The note of the Kinko school says,“This piece of music was passed down in Akita district by the old shakuhachi player called ‘梅翁子 (Baioushi)’,’ Old Man Plum’, but the details are unknown.”

 This time Mr. Joshua Sellers has read the following book, ‘Lucien Stryk, Cage of Fireflies: Modern Japanese Haiku Athens: Swallow Press, 1993’.

  And he has contributed his book review.

  First of all, we’d like to introduce him to you.

Mr. Joshua Sellers is a 39-year old musician and has been involved in various genres over the years. He is one half of the US/New Zealand rock duo, Joker and also records ambient music under the name of Murmur. After a very long hiatus from writing poetry and co-editing the (now-defunct) philosophy journal Heart Beats, he has returned to writing as a student of haiku. His blog, Sketches from Life is a journal recording his own explorations in writing. Josh currently lives in West Memphis, Arkansas.

  Next we post his book review.

Anyone seeking books of Japanese haiku in English will immediately notice that the majority of the books available are translations of Bashō, followed by anthologies that include only Bashō, Buson and Issa, “the Big Three” of haiku.  There are two things conspicuously missing・what about older haiku poets besides Bashō, Buson and Issa, and also: what about modern Japanese haiku? 

True, Bashō, Buson and Issa are important, indispensable poets.  There is good reason they are “the Big Three.”  Naturally, they outshone their contemporaries.  But there were other haiku poets of merit too.  I find it annoying that so many other poets are almost impossible to find (unless you are able to pay several hundred dollars for R.H. Blyth’s out-of-print four-volume Haiku!).  Why are there no translations of Sōgi, Kyorai, Onitsura and so many others?  Imagine searching everywhere for recordings of classical music, finding only Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, but no Handel, Brahms and Schubert.  Its puzzling. 

Equally puzzling is the lack of modern Japanese poets, even Shiki.  As far as I know, Burton Watson’s slim volume is the only book of Shiki’s haiku available in English.  Recently, I have come across Lucien Stryk’s wonderful anthology, Cage of Fireflies: Modern Japanese Haiku.  Sadly, even this books appears to be currently out-of-print. 

 Stryk reminds the reader that the tradition of hokku, later to be known as haiku, did not simply stop with “the Big Three,” but continued on its way into 20th century Japan.  It is for this reason that the title of Stryk’s book comes from the following haiku, by Kasho:

Into the cage of

fireflies, mostly dead,

I send a breath.

 I find the Stryk’s anthology lovely.  Lucien Stryk is an American poet in his own right and unsurprisingly, this works to his advantage.  Translation is a tricky task, especially with poetry.  To compound matters, haiku is made of very few words・there isn’t a lot of “wiggle room” to begin with. 

 It has been said many times that translation is a balancing act between the objective and the subjective: accurately communicating the written text but at the same time, conveying the feeling and resonance of the original poem.  Usually that balance is never quite met.  In the case of Cage of Fireflies, I think Stryk errs on the side of subjectivity.

 There is only one other English anthology of Japanese haiku I have found, Makoto Ueda’s Modern Japanese Haiku: An Anthology, published in 1974.  Ueda also has a lovely anthology of Japanese haiku by female poets, Far Beyond the Field, another rare contribution to Japanese haiku dedicated to poets other than “the Big Three.”  Comparing some of the poems with Ueda’s Modern Japanese Haiku confirms that Stryk may have taken some extra liberties with the Japanese text.  Ueda’s anthology also includes the original Japanese text, the Romanised text and a literal word-for-word translation.  For example, here is a haiku by Sōseki:

 肩に来て人懐かしや赤蜻蛉                                     夏目漱石

(kata ni kite  hito natsukashi ya  akatonbo)        (Natsume Soseki)

Red dragonfly

seeking company,

lands on my shoulder.

(Stryk, pg. 39)

It comes to my shoulder

longing for human company:

a red dragonfly.

(Ueda, pg. 46)

And here is the literal word-for-word (or character-by-character I should say!) rendering by Ueda:

 Shoulder / to / coming / person / longs / : / red-dragonfly

 Stryk obviously has taken a great liberty with the poem, placing the red dragonfly at the beginning of the haiku, rather than at the end, which is clearly how Sōseki wrote it in the Japanese.  The English equivalent of the kireji (“cutting word”) is absent.  The word order changes the perception of the moment as well.  In Stryk’s version, we see the dragonfly searching about and then landing on the shoulder.  It is a sharp image.  How much can it really be considered Sōseki’s poem I can’t say.

 In spite of this, I confess that I prefer Stryk’s translation to Ueda’s.  I love Ueda’s anthology, but I can’t help but wish his translations were less wordy・and this is what I find appealing about Cage of Fireflies: here, the haiku are quite spare.  This seems to be more in keeping with the Japanese haiku・they are extremely short, much shorter than what most haiku written in English are. 

 Here are just few lovely moments in Cage of Fireflies.  This is one by Hakusen:


sleeping children,

sound of the waves.

(pg. 44)

And this one by Rinka:

Butterflies gone,

how sharply blue

the sky.

(pg. 113)

And this one by Seishi, perhaps my favourite in this collection: 

 Dewy night,

blazing stars

I’ll live forever

(pg. 103)

Stryk’s anthology contains some “seasonless” haiku, an innovation characteristic of some modern haiku.  But one misleading thing about Cage of Fireflies is that he seems to have excluded those more radical poets who experimented with content and form.  The only notable exception is Kaneko Tōta, with his mention of motorcycles, slums and steel mills.  Not that I personally am really attracted to many of those more modern innovations myself, but admittedly it doesn’t reveal the diversity of modern Japanese haiku as Ueda’s anthology, which goes so far as to include four- and five-line haiku. 

 Nevertheless, Lucien Stryk’s Cage of Fireflies is a joy to read and gives readers in English a rare glimpse into modern Japanese haiku.  I’m very pleased to add it to my haiku library. 

~ Joshua Sellers


Mr. Joshua Sellers gives us his comment, saying that he wants to add that he has discovered that Lucien Stryk’s book is actually still available directly through the publisher at the following link:

 Posted  by Hidenori  Hiruta