Professor Alexander Dolin teaches Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University(AIU)(国際教養大学)in Akita.   He also writes haiku.

 

First of all, we post haiku by Professor Alexander Dolin .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

年毎に遊びに来たる秋の風 

Every year he comes

to pay me a visit,

this autumn wind…

秋風に友の声かも山の道 

With the autumn wind

it seems, the voice of my friend comes –

a mountain track…

秋田にて侘しく見ゆる案山子かな

In the autumn field

it looks so lonely,

this scarecrow!..

夜もすがら別れを惜しむきりぎりす

All  night long

he is mourning the coming partition,

this grasshopper…

旅人の姿消えゆく秋の暮れ

The silhouette of a traveler

is slowly vanishing –

the autumn dusk

友達に会えば楽しむ秋の暮れ

When you meet a friend

you can enjoy it, –

this autumn dusk…

「小町にて小町に会えば」秋田夢

“Oh, if I only could

meet a beauty like Komachi in this small town!”-

Dreaming in Akita (in the autumn field)…

象潟や雨にねむれず銅の芭蕉

Oh Kisakata!

Under the rain among the mimosa flowers

Basho carved of bronze doesn’t sleep…

{reference to the famous haiku by Basho  Kisakata ya…}

新しき友達の群れ美人ばかり

A flock

of new (girl) friends –

all of them so beautiful!..

カモシカも仲間もがなと思うかも

Even the mountain goat

maybe is thinking now:

“Oh, if I only had a friend!..”

After I read haiku about Komachi (小町),  I visited her hometown in Yuzawa City (湯沢市), Akita, and met a beauty like her there.

There is a road station called “Ogachi , Komachi’s hometown”(道の駅おがち 小町の郷)(Michi no eki Ogachi   Komachi no sato), which has an information center.

One of the staffs, Ms. Nori Saito (斎藤のり)there contributed her pictures to me and told me about Ono no Komachi (小野の小町).

Ono no Komachi (小野の小町, c. 825―c. 900) was a famous waka poet, one of the Rokkasenthe Six best Waka poets of the Heian period.  She was noted as a rare beauty; Komachi is a symbol of a beautiful woman in Japan.  She is also numbered as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.

According to one tradition, she is said to have been born in what is now Akita Prefecture, daughter of Yoshisada, “Lord of Dewa”.

Her hometown, Ogachi(雄勝), is now in Yuzawa City, and they built Komachi Shrine (小町堂)there and hold Komachi Festival on the second Sunday of June in front of the shrine near the road station in celebration of her birth there.

Behind Komachi Shrine stands a wooden notice board, saying that  in 1785菅江真澄 (Sugae Masumi) (1754-1829), one of the most popular folklorists and travelers in the middle to late Edo period, visited Komachi’s hometown.

This picture was taken at the road station called “Kyowa”(道の駅 協和)(Michi no eki Kyowa).

According to his ‘Travelogue’ called “Ono’s hometown (おののふるさと)”, Sugae Masumi stayed in Yuzawa City for about four months from February 9 to June 6, in 1785, which the lunar calendar says was from January 1 to April 29.

During his stay, he visited Ono’s hometown on May 22 and stayed there.

In his diary, Sugae noted : Children say Komachi was born and brought up here till the age of nine, and then she went up to Kyoto. There are beauties seen around here, and it seems to have something to do with Komachi.  He also noted about some legends passed down on about Komachi, and  some remains related with her.

Last of all, I post waka written by Ono no Komachi.

思いつつ 寝ればや人の 見えつらむ 夢としりせば さめざらましを

omoi tsutsu  nure baya hito no  mie tsuran  yume to shiri se ba  same zara mashi wo

Is it because I fell asleep

Yearning for her

That he paid me a visit?

Had I known it was dream, I wouldn’t have woken up.

   Hidenori  Hiruta

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桝田愛佳(Masuda Aika)began 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.

This is the last stage of the haiga project.

We hope that you will appreciate the last part of haiga, with the three basic haiga in the first part.

 

Ms. Masudas and Davids Haiga Project  (3)

 

 

愛佳                あいか

弟と                おとうとと

ボール遊びの   ボールあそびの

秋休み             あきやすみ

 

With my younger brother

Playing ball

During fall break

 

 

愛佳                あいか

今日のこと      きょうのこと

聴いて始まる   きいてはじまる

わが団らん      わがだんらん

 

Today

The time I enjoy starts

When I talk with my family

純子句             じゅんこく

 

 

おだんごで                  おだんごで

みんなでパーティ        みんなでパーティ

月の夜                        つきのよる

With dumplings

Everyone partied

During the moonlit night

 

 

自然との                     しぜんとの

思い出いっぱい           おもいでいっぱい

まんたらめ                  まんたらめ

Plenty of memories

With nature

Mantarame

愛佳                           あいか

 

 

初春元旦                                  はつはるがんたん

初雪の思い出のこるまんたらめ  はっゆきのおもいでののこるまんたらめ

 

First day of the year

Mantarame, where memories of the first snow remain

 

 

愛佳                あいか

Cake

美沙季             みさき

愛佳より          あいかより

 

Misaki

From Aika

 

幸福を             こうふくを

祈る本堂          いのるほんどう

冬日さす          ふゆびさす

 

Praying for happiness

In the main hall

Light shines through the window

 

純子句             じゅんこく

 

 

愛佳                           あいか

地ふぶきの                  じふぶきの

果てにほおばる           はてにほおばる

桜もち                        さくらもち

純子句                      じゅんこく

 

The massive snowstorm’s

Mouth-watering, satisfying

Sakura rice cakes

 

 

始業式                          しぎょうしき

たしかに春の                たしかにはるの

かぜがふく                    かぜがふく

純子                           じゅんこ

愛佳                           あいか

 

As an opening ceremony

Without fail the spring

Wind blows

 

 

何べんも                       なんべんも

そりすべりして             そりすべりして

春の雪                          はるのゆき

純子                             じゅんこ

愛佳                             あいか

However many times,

Sliding on a sled

In the spring snow

 

 

愛佳                             あいか

おもたせは                    おもたせは

秋の走りの                    あきのはしりの

味ゆたか                       あじゆたか

幸句                             こうく

The souvenir is

The beginning of fall

So delicious

 

弟からのメッセージ A message from my younger brother

 

「おねえちゃんがやっているのをみてたのしそうだからやってみたい。」と言って今年七月に始めました。

He said, “I saw my older sister doing it, so I want to try.” He started from July of this year.

 

かっぱはそのときの作品です。 A kappa is his piece of artwork from that time.

大暑 たいしょ Dog days of summer

健太郎             Kentaro

愛佳                           あいか

 

螢かと思ってみた        ほたるがとおもってみた

空の星                        そらのほし

I thought they were fireflies

The stars in the sky

 

二年間を振り返って     Looking back at these two years

 

俳画をやってみて楽しくて、楽しくてアッと言う間に、二年間がすぎていきました。変わったところは、少しだけ堂々とはなせるようになりました。これからも俳画をつづけたいです。

 

I really, really enjoyed making haiga and before I knew it, two years passed. What changed is that I am now able to speak a little bit more elegantly. From here on, I want to continue making haiga.

 

A message from the translator (AKA the guy that messed everything up):

 

I would be happy to remain unacknowledged, however Ms. Masuda asked me to contribute a brief profile of myself with a piece addressing my feelings towards my contribution to the work. So here I go.

I am an American and originally hail from Kansas. Yes, Kansas. If you don’t know where that is, I suggest you watch “The Wizard of Oz” or try and buy something made of wheat from America. I currently work for the Japanese government as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Akita City, Akita, Japan. That basically means I get paid to get kanchos from small children, among other things (I think maybe only two people got that last joke, but I swear those two people laughed really hard).

It is in this hectic, yet occasionally enjoyable school setting that I met Ms. Masuda. She mentioned her interest in haiga and I admitted my ignorance of the art form. After showing me her daughter’s and son’s artwork, we got on the topic of haiga in English and she wondered how they would sound in another language. From here, the details get sketchy: either she asked me to try my hand at translating them, or I offered myself. I honestly can’t remember exactly how the transaction went down, but next thing I knew, here I was in front of my computer looking at a blue and yellow frog (her son’s painting [which actually has a funny story itself, but I’ll let Ms. Masuda tell that herself, because she tells it with the passion only a mother can have]).

As for the translating itself, it actually turned out to be much more of a challenge than what I first thought. Coming into it with some knowledge of Japanese (it was my major in college) and having translated for fun during my free time certainly did help, but by far the hardest part for me was trying to convey the author’s Japanese feelings in English words.

When choosing what words I should use, I tried to keep in mind that the original author started writing haiga when she was nine and made the power point presentation (what I translated from) when she was twelve. So, I tried my best to use words that I thought a girl of similar age, speaking English would use. But at the same time this is a girl writing poetry, so that said, I tried to find a balance between the poetic and the everyday.

A related problem of equal importance was word order. As I was in the process of translating, I felt a lot of the haiga may sound more natural, and maybe even more “poetic” to a native speaker, if their word order was switched. But then I questioned: would this jeopardize the original meaning? Should I sacrifice the structure for the meaning? Was it my place to make this judgment call?

Ultimately, I decided yes, it was. So from the start, I had to choose which I valued more the structure of the haiga or its meaning, and in the end, I tried my best to find a happy balance. Overall, I tried my best to keep the Japanese word order, but when I felt it sounded significantly better in a different order, I changed it for that particular instance and continued on. Since the original Japanese lacks any punctuation whatsoever, I also tried to keep punctuation to a minimum and inserted it in only when I felt it was necessary. However, I did take some liberties with particles and used them to help smooth the beat for the reader. While the original Japanese versions are often times missing particles, I felt that when turned into English they sounded disjointed and incomplete without them.

Finally, I would like to thank Ms. Masuda for putting up with all of my questions and for being patient while I tapped away on my keyboard. Maybe what I wrote above just overanalyzed the entire translating process, but at the very least I hope it shows that I do care about what I did. And I hope it shows as you read it as well. Enjoy.-David Ferron

(The End)

― Posted by Hidenori Hiruta

 

This is the first time to post tanka on the website.

 We post tanka poems by Mr. Tsutomu Nimure, and one of tanka poems in  万葉集(Manyoshu),“Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves” , which is  the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled some time around 759 A.D. during 奈良時代(Narajidai),“the Nara period ”.

 

First of all, Mr. Tsutomu Nimure introduces himself to us in Japanese, and then in English.

 

                二牟礼 勉の 短歌への道

 大学時代に授業で万葉集に触れ、先生が詠歌を勧められたのが最初です。二十歳前後に少し興味をもって詠歌し、先生に指導を受けましたが、その後は時たま詠歌する程度で、縁遠くなりました。65歳で現役を終えてから、趣味として短歌に興味を注ぎ、レベルを知るために新聞等に投稿を始めました。以来10年ほど経過しています。2008年の年間賞として朝日新聞秋田支社と毎日新聞秋田支社から記念の盾を受けま した。  (2009.10.20. 現在)

 

Tsutomu Nimure’s way of TANKA

 

 As a college student, I had a Japanese class, which dealt Manyoushu. The teacher of the class advised us to write a Tanka poem.  So at some twenty years of age I tried to make a Tanka and got some advice by the teacher. After that time I neglected to make Tanka poems.  At age of 65 I retired, so I have begun to pay attention to Tanka for my hobby. Since that day it has been passed some ten years. In order to know my level I have continued to contribute my Tankas to some newspapers..  I was awarded in 2008 annual prize in Tanka  by Asahi shinbun Akita branch and Mainichi shinbun Akita branch.    (As of Oct. 20, 2009)

From now on, Mr. Tsutomu Nimure shows his tanka poems in Japanese as well as in English to us.

 

短歌とその英訳 No.1(2009.10.16) 

 

My Tankas and the Meaning  No.1

by Tsutomu NIMURE                             

 

1)    戦争の傷跡残る台湾のガイドの使う日本語巧み

 

     A guide uses an excellent Japanese in Taiwan

where the scars of the War still remain

                                                                        

 

2)    秋の陽の優しく照らすひる時に懐かしき歌耳に届けり

 

     During lunch time when an autumn sun shone softly

a good oldie song came to my ear

                                                                        

 

 3)   チェンソーの音に合わせて森の中小鳥互いに美声を競う

 

          Birds in the wood, harmonizing with the sound of

 a chainsaw,    are singing beautiful songs  respectively

                                                                          

 

 4) 仕事終えハンドル握り帰路急ぐ頬触れる風に秋感じつつ

   

      Finishing the work I gripped a steeling wheel

  and hurried home feeling fall in the wind touching  my cheeks

                                                                            

 

 5)    英語での講演聴きて眠りたる脳に突然エンジンかかる

   

        While listening to a lecture in English

     I felt my sleeping brain started suddenly

                                                                            

 

 6)   朝明けの鳥海山を眺めつつ凪の沿岸運転楽しむ

 

        Looking up at Mt.Choukai at dawn

     I enjoyed driving along a calm coast

                                                                           

 

 7) 裏庭に積もりし雪をながめつつ今日もリハビリ続けて励む

 

       Looking at the snow covering the back yard,

    I went on striving for rehabilitation today, too.

 

  

 万葉集(Manyoshu),“Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”  (1)

 

This is the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled some time around 759 A.D. during 奈良時代(Narajidai),“the Nara period ”.

The anthology is one of the most revered of Japan’s poetic compilations. The compiler,or the final in a series of compilers, is believed to be 大伴家持 (Otomo no Yakamochi). The collection contains poems ranging from A.D. 347 (poems 85-89) through 759(4516), the bulk of them representing the period after 600. The precise significance of the title is not known with certainty.

The following tanka was written by 大伴四綱(Otomo no Yotsuna).

 

月夜よし 川音清し いざここに 行くも去ぬも 遊びて帰かむ

tsukuyo yoshi  kawato sayakeshi  iza koko ni  yukumo yukanumo 

 asobite yukamu

 

On such a moonlit night

 the river is flowing with a clear sound;

 those present here,

 the departing one and the staying ones,

lets enjoy ourselves, shall we?

 

 ( Translated by Hidenori Hiruta )

 

  This tanka was written at the farewell party for 大伴旅人(Ootomo no Tabito), a Japanese poet, best known as the father of大伴家持 (Otomo no Yakamochi).

Before tanka was written at the party, 大伴旅人(Ootomo no Tabito) served as Governor-General of 太宰府(Dazaifu), the military procuracy in northern Kyushu(九州) from 728-730, and encouraged the composition of poetry among his subordinates in imitation of Chinese style elegance. He also showed his Chinese education in his set of thirteen tanka in praise of sake.                                                                                                                                     

 

                                                                                           Hidenori  Hiruta

  

 

桝田愛佳(Masuda Aika) began 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.

This is the second stage of the haiga project.

We hope that you will appreciate the second part of haiga, with the three basic haiga in the first part.

 

Ms. Masudas and Davids Haiga Project  (2)

 

愛佳俳画 016

 

とが      ふるさとが

見え元日の      みえがんじつの

炭俵                すみだわら

裕句                ひろしく

愛佳                あいか

 

In my hometown

During the upcoming New Year

With my charcoal sack

 

愛佳俳画 017

 

千代紙の                     ちよがみの

ひなのほほえむ           ひなのほほえむ

三日かな                     みっかかな

 

Ornate, colored-papered

Grins

Dolls for March third, Girls’ Day

愛佳                           あいか

 

愛佳俳画 018

 

愛佳                           あいか

一つとや                     ひとつとや

二つとやあと              ふたつとやあと

遊ぶ夜                        あそぶよる

 

One, oh, yeah

Two, oh, yeah

A playful night

 

愛佳俳画 019

 

愛佳                           あいか

水嵩の                        みずかさの

増してくる如く           ましてくるしく

芹洗ふ                        せりあらう

 

The volume of water

Rises up

Washing the Japanese parsley

 

佳郎句             よしろく

新しい雅号      A new pen name

最初にいただいた雅号は「愛苑」だったけれど、同じ雅号の人がいたので「佳苑」という雅号をいただきました。先生に「佳苑」というはんこを作ってもらいました。

 

The first pen name I was given was Aien, however there was someone else with the same pen name, so I was given the name Kaen. I also received a personal seal with the name Kaen that my teacher made.

 

愛佳俳画 020

 

緑さし             みどりさし

猫の歩みも      ねこのあゆみも

映りけり          うつりけり

 

秀旦句             Does anyone know how to pronounce this?

愛佳                あいか

Day by day, greener and greener

A cat’s steps too

Are reflected

 

愛佳俳画 021

愛佳俳画 022

 

父の日に                     ちちのひに

絵げいこに来れる        えげいこにこれる

幸よ                           しあわせよ

 

On Father’s Day

I can practice haiga

So happy (Thank you, dad)

 

愛佳俳画 023

 

先生と吹く      せんせいとふく

草笛の             くさぶえの

まちまちに      まちまちに

友子句             ともこく

愛佳                あいか

 

Blowing with my teacher

The blades of grass

Out of synch

 

母と俳句          Mom and Haiku

母は、時々川柳(せんりゅう)や俳句をつくっています。母が好きなばらを描いて母の俳句をのせたら、泣いて喜んでいました。母は、すっかりその気になって毎月おけいこの時は、はりきって、俳句をつくっています。

 

My mom sometimes makes haiku and senryu (humorous Japanese poems). When I painted a rose, which my mother likes, and added one of my mom’s haikus, she was so happy she cried.  My mom was overwhelmingly pleased and now every month during my lessons cheerfully makes haikus.

 

愛佳俳画 024

 

嵐にも                        あらしにも

りんりんと咲く           りんりんとさく

花畑                           はなばたけ

 

Despite the storm

The flower garden

Is vigorously blooming

 

純子句                        じゅんこく

愛苑                           あいえん

 

愛佳俳画 025

 

苗代の             なわしろの

月夜は             つきよは

はんの木に      はんのきに

けむる             けむる

 

The bed of rice’s

Moonlit night

Is shrouded by

The Japanese alder

 

素逝句             そせいく

 

(To Be Continued)

― Posted by Hidenori Hiruta