First of all,  I’d like to introduce Alan Summers to you.

He is founder / tutor of With Words which promotes the love of words through a number of inclusive literacy and literature events; courses; activities; workshops; writing walks; and renga projects.


The With Words website:

Alan Summers also has his Blog:

According to his self-introduction, he is Japan Times award-winning writer for haiku  & renga.  He is Joint Co-ordinator for the 1000 Verse Renga.  He is also  Co-organiser for The Summer Japanese Arts & Film Festival 2010 in Bath U.K.


Secondly, we  post Alan Summers’ Travelogue on World Haiku Festival 2002 in Yuwa, Akita Japan.  He kindly contributed his article to our website.


Bullet Trains, Vending Machines and Cicadas

(group photo©Alan Summers/With Words)



L-R standing: Matsuko Teraoka, Deborah Russell, Alan Summers, Daniel Gallimore, Susumu Takiguchi, Debi Bender, Matsuo Basho (statue), Judit Vihar, Bruce Ross.

L-R seated: Brian Selby, David Barsky, Visnja McMaster


World Haiku Festival 2002

The beginning…

I landed at Kansai Airport, Osaka, in early September to be met by friend and fellow writer Maki Nishida, and I stayed at her parent’s house while Maki and myself took in all the sights of Osaka, and Kobe where her family live. My jetlag never stood a chance as over the next two days, we spent anything up to 18 hours a day on each city. The restaurants were good, but they could not get near to the excellence of mood, atmosphere, and culinary experience that Maki’s mother, Akiko Nishida, provided. During the waking hours of those two days, so much was packed in, and although it was not the New Year, we played a game of hyakunin-isshu before visiting Sumadera.

in-between seasons

the tsukutsukubõshi buzz

of “not yet Autumn”


Maki Nishida explained about a samurai legend at Suma Temple about cicadas and their semi-no-koe (chorus), a rasping call that made me think of a single, large bird rather than small insects.  This particular cicada chorus in September is often associated with the ‘official’ end to summer.

So, when the tsukutsukubõshi (cicada species, meimuna opalifera, nicknamed after their sound) give cry, it is the end of summer, rather than the beginning as is the case with all other cicadas; and it also signifies ‘not yet autumn’ at the same time, so says another legend. This is the country of legends, and you never know whether they will remain dormant or not.

The days with Maki and her family set me up beautifully for the rest of my Japan experience which would delightfully end at Akita. There are far too many images of Japan to put down here, though a few would be Bullet Trains, onsen, cicadas and jido-hanbaiki…

vending machines

the hot choice is always out–

Narrow Road to the North

And so, onto the Bullet Train…




a dog shape balloon

wags it tail

…to Kamakura to meet up with other haiku poets for a haiku experience organised through the World Haiku Club by the indefatigable energies of its Chairman, Susumu Takiguchi, and fantastically assisted by WHC Development Advisor, Debi Bender. Throughout this adventure it seemed that both Susumu and Debi worked 24/7 to make sure everything we needed was superbly taken care of.

This was indeed going to be a major expedition where we would retrace some of Basho’s steps, and with the aid of the magical onsen, I was able to recover from a severely swollen ankle originating in England. 

Thanks to Susumu’s perseverance to get me to regularly use the communal onsen ‘hot springs’ at various ryokan (Japanese-style hotels), my ankle quickly became less swollen.  In fact, to the point that I was able to undertake walks up and down hills and mountains that I would otherwise have been only able to view from ground level.

I was looking for Basho, and on our Far North journey, I felt I saw little glimpses here and there…


Toshugu shrine pines

I try to stay as still –

mist and dew


Kamakura was the start of this Basho inspired adventure and the meeting of numerous companions. I was very honoured to meet James Hackett, the famous haiku poet and friend of RH Blyth, with his wife Patricia Hackett, who is a very fine haiku poet too, as I found out at various kukai that were organised. They were the best companions to have on this journey, and I still pinch myself, after having met one of my biggest heroes of Western haiku.

Meeting Dorothy Britton (Lady Bouchier) at Kamakura was incredible too. Dorothy Britton had only just arrived from the U.S.A. and was immediately involved with the WHC Kamakura event, preparing for a talk to a large attentive audience, and also adding simultaneous translation to a talk by James W. Hackett. She looked so fresh and elegant while I was  bedraggled with fatigue.

There were several other Kamakura highlights including sharing a great sense of humour with American artist and haiku writer Deborah Russell, and meeting fellow haijinx online ‘humor in haiku’ magazine colleague, Carmen Sterba.

Carmen and myself temporarily left the WHC crew to take up an opportunity to stay at Kris Kondo’s house; Kris took us back to her fantastic Aladdin’s cave aka apartment. The next day I said farewell to Kris (thank you Kris for being such a fine hostess), all too, too brief a stay, and left with Carmen to catch up with the WHC party starting their next leg inTokyo.

Carmen Sterba and myself had the best of the day together, just two poets strolling around part of Tokyo, and then on to the Basho Memorial Museum where the other poets caught up with us. It is so refreshing to be able to meet up with people you want to meet, but have only ever known via email. I certainly made an effort to make the most of the remaining time to get to know so many haiku poets I might never meet again in person.

I was fortunate to spend time in the company of Visnja McMaster of Zabreb, Croatia, the inventor of the ‘Haiku Cards’ teaching game. Visnja has unselfishly done so much with, and for, Croatian children, proving what a powerful tool haiku can be to lift children away from certain everyday harsh circumstances, including the after effects of the breakup of the old Yugoslavia.

Working with Visnja was a major highlight for me, playing the ‘Haiku Cards’ game with her, and workshopping with several groups of local Japanese schoolchildren in Akita; a time that I shall never forget.

Other poets I met, who are also groundbreaking in their haiku and renku, were Ikuyo Yoshimura and Eiko Yachimoto, great ambassadors, each respectively of those art forms — which brings me to an observation: I have mostly named women!

Other than the exceptions of James Hackett and Susumu Takiguchi, this has been a catalogue of the female persuasion, and so I must make amends.

So, in this spirit, I must tell of a fellow traveller harking from Oxford, who exuded the spirit of Basho that I was so desperately seeking. This traveller was Brian Selby. Of all the people present, he seemed to have that intriguing mixture of pure honesty, gentleness, generosity, sabi and other haikai characteristics about him, that makes me feel that Basho would have liked him very much for a travelling companion. I certainly did. 

Sadly Brian Selby passed away before I could meet up with him again in Oxford, England but I have never forgotten him.

WHC’s Japan experience held many adventures and treats including a trip down the Mogami River…

in-between season

I follow the Mogami River

by riceboat

…and visiting hills, shrines and their flower gardens, and mountains:

moon mountain –

I climb up through all this gorse

into Basho’s Northern Honshu

Gassan (Moon Mountain), Yamagata

Alan Summers


(To be continued)


Last of all, I, Hidenori Hiruta, translated Alan Summers’ travelogue into Japanese.

Would you please read my Japanese translation too?




(グループ写真/アラン・サマーズ/‘With Wordsの写真)



















































Hidenori Hiruta




Professor Kirby Record teaches as director of English for Academic Purposes at Akita International University (AIU) (国際教養大学) in Akita.

He also writes haiku. He is a fellow haiku poet of mine.


Professor Kirby Record contributed his book of poetry titled ‘A Welcome Coolnessto me.

I post poetry in his book, dividing them into some parts and giving them a Japanese translation, which isn’t sometimes literal. It’s me, Hidenori Hiruta who translated his poetry into Japanese.

The title of his book is derived from the following haiku:


a sudden breeze

in bright winter sunlight, leaves

a welcome coolness

冬光に 爽涼迎ふ 風そよぐ

Toko ni  soryo mukau  kaze soyogu


 Here I post haiku about winter by Professor Kirby Record, recalling the winter in Akita.

on the window pane

the rain remains frozen

in the wind’s direction



Kazamuki ni  ame kooreru ya  mado no waku 



at the sea’s edge

i stare into nothing

tasting snowflakes



Umi no heri  seppen ajiwau  hoka miezu



japanese maple:

falling snow only darkens

its crimson branches



Furu yuki ya  irohamomiji no  aka kokusu  



in this empty room

i draw back curtains to let in

cold winter stars



Ka-ten o  hiite mane kan  fuyu no hoshi



something keeps falling

 brushing against the shoji

shadows of snowflakes


shoji : sliding paper door



Furiyama zu  shouji o kasumu  yuki no kage



a woman’s shadow

   across an icy rice field

keeps calling a cat



Neko o yobu  hyouden yogiru  kage onna



snow begins to fall

on fields already whitened

by a flock of swans



Hakuchou no  muragaru hata ni  shiroi yuki 



icy rain

on thawing snow

tiny holes



Hisame furi toke yuku yuki ni  koana kana



winter dawn

old man on bicycle pulls

dogs on a leash



Fuyu no kure  baiku rojin  inu o hiku


first buds of winter:

beads of ice glow faintly red

japanese maple



Fuyu tsubomi  momiji no koori  akai tama


cold monochromes–

sky, snowfall, and waves breaking–

splinter white ice



Tanshokuga sora yuki shiranami  kona goori



white and shapeless

rice fields deep in snow



Iki shiroshi yuki no shinden  katachi nashi


ice on stone

each breath pain

blows back again



Ishi goori haku iki itaku  fukikaeru



the December sea—

through clouds, a tiny opening

for a tiny sunset



Shiwasu no umi  yuuyake kumono  sukima kara


sun bursts out

my shadow darkens

on fresh snow



Taiyo ni waga kage kuroshi  shinsetsu ya



above the sea

sunset about to snow

a brilliant white


Kaijo no  yuyake yuki o  hakugin ni


a sudden shadow

on the snow from the pine grove

becomes a crow


Matsubayashi  setsujou no kage  karasu nari


both rain and snow

falling at the same time

on the same place


Yuki majiri ame no furiotsu  onaji chi ni


black is black

trees at night above the snow

white is white


Kuro to shiro  yoru no kigi tatsu  yuki no ue


blurring past,

only a rabbit’s footprints

in the snow


Kako oboro  usagi no ashiato  yuki no naka



 a ray of sunset

leaves a trace of crimson

on ordinary snow


Yuyake no  akaki senseki  setsujou ni


swirling snowflakes

suddenly float slow-motion

near the pine forest


Seppen ya  uzumaki yurumu  matsubayashi


newly-built houses

rooftops of different colors

under the same snow


Shinchiku no  yaneiro chigau  yuki onaji

picture window

turns the whole room grey

winter dusk


Miharashi mado  heya haiiro no  fuyu no kure


snow glazing

the needles of giant pine

winter blossoms


Yuki saete  matsu no shinyo  fuyu no hana


with a black leash

a dog is pulling its master

across a snowy field


Kuro kusari  inu shujin o hiku  yuki no hara


a saffron sunset

softens jagged grey ice

on the winter sea


Safaran no  yuyake umi no  koori wasu



icicles from my roof



Shizuku otsu  yane no tsurara ya  pota pota to


winter night

the clock from this dream

keeps ticking


Fuyu no yoru  kono yumedokei  chiku taku to


winter solitude:

in white tips of pine needles

i can see the wind


Tojaku ya  shiroki matsuba ni  kaze o miru


― Hidenori Hiruta




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

Professor Alexander Dolin taught haiku to the students in his class of Japanese Literature and contributed their haiku to our website.


 Ms. Yukari Sakamoto(阪本縁) kindly translated English haiku by Nick Corvinus into Japanese.

She is a graduate student at AIU and sometimes writes haiku in her academic career.

Firstly, we post English haiku by Nick Corvinus and their Japanese translation by Ms. Yukari Sakamoto.


Haiku by Nick Corvinus (USA)

Nick Corvinus, a student at Colorado University at Boulder, wrote haiku on November 24, 2009, while studying about Japanese Literature at AIU.

Autumn Haiku  秋に寄せて

                                    Aki ni yosete

Four hours I walk,

The leaves crunch and split apart

Someone is coming.


Sanpo michi  ochiba fumishime  hito ga yukikau 



As the fire rises

You sit and smoke, while your breath

Goes on forever.


Ochiba taki  suwatte ippuku  kemuri tanabiku



Where has the sun gone?

It used to follow me home

I’ll drink with the moon.


Hi ga kakure  konya wa hitori  tsukimizake


In my quilted coat

There is an old camera

But no color film!


Gaitou to  furui kamera to  monokurofirumu


The days are shorter

And while you dress, I see that

You take much longer.


Ichinichi mijikashi  kimi no yosooi  hitohi no gotoshi



Haiku by Ye Ran Lee (ROK)

Ye Ran Lee, a student at Sogang University, wrote haiku on November 24, 2009, while studying about Japanese Literature at AIU.


The thing falling down

Is the sound of rain drops

The red autumnal leaves



Chirikuku wa  ameno furu oto  aka momiji



The thing which is dyeing

Fallen water of rain

Turning into the red



Somaru no wa  ochita amamizu  akairo ni




A golden plain

Of the sunset moment




Yugure no  kogane no hara  kagayaki ni




Now setting,

From the Setting sun

The given thing



Shizumi yuku  taiyou kara no  okurimono



Or it is

The thing which abundant prosperity

Yields by itself



Samonaito  michita houjou   umishi mono




The chilly wind

Causes loneliness, though,

The color itself is warm



Hieta kaze  sabishikumo  iro atatakana




Haiku by Ayuko Nagata (JAPAN)

Ayuko Nagata, a student at AIU, wrote haiku on November 25, 2009, while studying about Japanese Literature at Professor Dolin Alexander’s class.



mini shimiru   kaze ga tsutaeru   sugishi aki


being pierced by the icy wind

the wind tells us

autumn is gone



hatsu yuki ga  oshiete kureru  fuyu kuru to


 it is the first snow

that tells us about the fact

winter is coming soon


aki kaze to  ame yuki taeru  yureru kaki


 tolerating the autumn wind

tolerating rain and snow

persimmon is waving


― Hidenori Hiruta





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

Professor Alexander Dolin taught haiku to the students in his class of Japanese Literature and contributed their haiku to our website.


Ms. Yukari Sakamoto(阪本縁) kindly translated English haiku by Sidney Schaben into Japanese.

First of all, let me introduce Ms. Yukari Sakamoto and her haiku to you.

She is a graduate student at AIU and sometimes writes haiku in her academic career.

She won Honorable Mention at AIU HAIKU contest, Japanese Section for Students, by CRESI’s “Kokyo Yuwa” (「交響雄和」実行委員会)on October 11, 2009.



Shinryoku no   naka o kakenuke  tookou su


I’m riding

through such fresh spring green

to school


Secondly, we post English haiku by Sidney Schaben and their Japanese translation by Ms. Yukari Sakamoto.

Haiku by Sidney Schaben (USA)

Sidney Schaben, a student at St. Cloud State University, wrote haiku on November 30, 2009, while studying about Japanese Literature at AIU.


When summer passes

The din of the cicada

No longer is heard


  夏過ぎて   蝉の鳴き声   遠のいて 

Natsu sugite    semi no nakigoe    toonoite


When the grass turns brown

And the ground begins to freeze

The world sleeps soundly


草枯れる  大地が凍る    冬籠る

   Kusa kareru   daichi ga kooru   fuyu komoru


Soon the trees will shed

And the absence of their leaves

Creates new music


木の葉落ち   裸の冬木     新たな息吹

Konoha ochi    hadaka no fuyugi  aratana ibuki


The flood waters come

And by the end of each day

The world is cleansed

秋出水     その日が終わり  世事浄化せり

Aki demizu      sono hi ga owari      seji jouka seri


When the sun and moon

Live together in the sky

The air grows colder

太陽と月   ともに浮かべば   冬近し

  Taiyou to tsuki    tomo ni ukabe ba     fuyu chikashi 


As the leaf falls down

It traces a mournful path

Soon it will be dead

舞い降りる  落ち葉行く路  地に帰る

 Mai oriru       ochiba yuku michi   chi ni kaeru



Haiku by Kim Pool lib (ROK)

Kim Pool lib, a student at Sogang University, wrote haiku on November 30, 2009, while studying about Japanese Literature at AIU.

秋が来た   何をするかな   雲の横

        Akia ga kita    nani o suru kana   kumo no yoko


Autumn has come

What am I going to do?

Beside the clouds



果てしない   自然の変化  今度は秋

  Hateshinai       sizen no henka   kondo wa aki



Change of season

This time is autumn


赤い山   一人で感じる  雲と鳥

    Akai yama   hitori de kanjiru   kumo to tori


Seasoning mountain

Feeling it by myself

Clouds and bird



Haiku by Eunji Sohn (ROK)

Eunji Sohn, a student at Seoul National University, wrote haiku on November 30, 2009, while studying about Japanese Literature at AIU.

赤い葉や あなたを見たら 恥ずかしい

Akai ha ya   anata o  mitara      hazukashii


Oh, red leaves

I feel shy

when I see you


秋空は    どんな匂いが するのかな

Akizora wa      donna nioi ga    suru no kana


 What does autumn sky smell like?


秋溝は    落葉たちの  お風呂かな

Shukou wa  ochiba tachi no  o furo kana


 Is autumn ditch

the bath of fallen leaves,




― Hidenori Hiruta