On March 11, 2011, we had the most powerful earthquake since records began, which struck the Pacific coast of Northeastern Honshu, Japan, triggering a massive tsunami.

 

Since then I have received e-mails and messages from haiku friends worldwide, in which they have sent their condolences and prayers through haiku, haiga, tanka, short poems, or pictures.

Some of my haiku friends took up the earthquake in their blogs or journals, and others started the movements to uplift their brothers and sisters in Japan on the Internet.

 

I have clearly realized how my friends’ contributions are helpful in feeling encouraged, and consoled, and giving relief.

They eventually lead us to hope.

 

Here is a photo of haiga and haiku in collaboration between Gabi Greve and Origa , both of whom are haikuist friends of mine – in prayer for Japan.

 

 

 

As you see in the photo above, Origa in USA painted the haiga, and Gabi Greve living in Japan from Germany wrote the haiku.

 

god of earthquakes –      地震の神
what does it take       何が必要なの
to keep you quiet ?   あなたを静めておくのに

 

 

Dr. med. Gabi Greve, who lives in Okayama prefecture, started the blog Japan-after the Big earthquake as JAPAN DISASTER-RELIEF DONATIONS.

 

According to Dr. med. Gabi Greve, the earliest historical record of an earthquake in Japan appears in a poem included in Nihongi’s account of Emperor Buretsu, but the first record of an earthquake kami and its worship comes from Nihongi’s records of the reign of Empress Suiko.
In summer of the seventh year of her reign (599 C.E.), a temblor struck the capital regions, and an order was issued to offer worship to the kami of earthquakes, although no title is given to any specific kami to be worshiped.

Nai no kami 地震神
The Japanese god of earthquakes.

nai no kami ないのかみ / なゐの神【地震神】
deity of earthquakes
and what we need most, an earthquake talisman
地震御守

Here is a photo of the earthquake talisman.

 

 

 

Here are the other two photos and haiku by Dr. med. Gabi Greve

 

 

 

plum blossoms—     梅の花― 

the mind still wanders  心ここになく彷徨う

in Northern Japan    北日本に

 

 

 

Mother’s Day        母の日

white carnations float  白いカーネーションが浮かぶ

in the waves          波の中に

 

Please visit the blog by Dr. med. Gabi Greve, and you will learn more about the earthquake. http://japan-afterthebigearthquake.blogspot.com/

 

 

T. A. Smith, a haikuist friend of mine, in USA, also took up the earthquake in the blog Shiteki Na Usagi as follows:

 

Japan, Earthquake, Tsunami

Posted on March 11, 2011 by Yousei Hime

I am stunned by the news of this earthquake and subsequent tsunami in northern Japan. I have made acquaintances and friendships in Japan through blogging. Though this is not the first country to experience a recent earthquake disaster, it is the first for which I have strong connections and deep love. I pray for everyone’s safety and quick recovery.

let us walk          歩きましょう
safely together       一緒に安全に
Basho’s path         芭蕉の細道を

 

 

Robert D. Wilson in the Philippines and Saša Važić in Serbia, haikuist friends of mine, started the blog WE ARE ALL JAPAN.

http://wearealljapan.blogspot.com/

 

Here is a photo by Saša Važić.

  

 

On April 8, Buddha’s Birthday, the chief priest Shunsai Takayanagi (高柳俊哉住職) at the Shouhei-ji temple (勝平寺), in Akita-city (秋田市), held the memorial service for those who passed away in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

 

Here is a photo of the memorial service, which I attended and wrote haiku..

 

 

 

spring earthquake

Buddha prays

in tears

 

春の地震祈る仏陀の涙かな

 

I posted the photo and haiku in the blog : http://akitahaiku.blogspot.com/.

 

 

Origa (Olga Hooper) wrote haiku as a comment on my haiku above.

 

souls of the dead …
floating into eternity
sakura petals

死者の魂
桜の花びらが
永遠に飛ぶ

Shisha no tamashī… Sakura no hanabira ga eien ni tobu.

души погибших …
улетающие в вечность
лепестки сакуры

 

 

Origa also started the blog Prayer for Japan. — Молитва о Японии.

Please visit her blog too : origa: Prayer for Japan. — Молитва о Японии.

 

Last of all, let me post a photo of an apple orchard in Yuwa (雄和), Akita-city, and my haiku.

 

 

りんご園枯れ木を飾る花大根

 

apple orchard

the withered tree remains

in radish flowers

 

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (6) ‘ appears on June 4.

 

― Hidenori Hiruta

 

 

 

On August 1, 1689, Basho visited Kisakata (象潟), Akita Prefecture (秋田県),  Northern Honshu, on his journey.

Basho wrote about Kisakata in his travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi .

Here I take up the latter part of this section.

 

此寺の方丈に座して簾を捲ば、風景一眼の中に尽て、南に鳥海、天をさヽえ、其陰うつりて江にあり、西はむやむやの関、路をかぎり、東に堤を築て、秋田にかよふ道遥に、海北にかまえて、浪打入る所を汐こしと云。江の縦横一里ばかり、俤松島にかよひて、又異なり。松島は笑ふが如く、象潟はうらむがごとし。寂しさに悲しみをくはえて、地勢魂をなやますに似たり。

 

Here is a painting of Kisakata exhibited at the Kanmanji Temple.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy; as per original copyright at:

http://staff.aist.go.jp/nakano.shun/Jap/Chokai/news/recently.html

 

Donald Keene translated this part into English as follows:

 

  Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, I 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. To the west, one can see as far as Muyamuya Barrier; to the east, the road over the embankment leads to Akita in the distance. The sea is to the north. The place where the waves of the sea break into the lagoon is called Tide-Crossing. Kisakata is about two miles in either direction.

Kisakata resembles Matsushima, but there is a difference. Matsushima seems to be smiling, but Kisakata wears a look of grief. There is a sadness mingled with the silent calm, a configuration to trouble the soul.

 

Basho’s last lines say that there is something woeful about Kisakata.

I wonder if Basho predicted that such a natural disaster as earthquake might occur in Kisakata in the future.

 

In fact, on July 10, 1804, a big earthquake occurred in Kisakata about 105 years after Basho’s visit there. The earthquake caused upheaval of ground by 2.4 meters. As a result, the lagoons were changed into dry land.

 

Here is a photo of the backyard of the Kanmanji Temple in Kisakata, 321 years after Basho’s visit.

 

 

 

Koji Otomo, curator at Shoji Taro Memorial Museum in Akita-city, contributed his poems on the earth to our network.

 

春愁 無情         Spring Woe   No Mercy

東海林太郎音楽館館長 大友康二

 

大地 ゆらぐ日                 On the day when the earth quakes

海 怒りて                          the sea gets furious

慟哭                                   cries bitterly  

三陸の海を                         the Sanriku coast

引き裂く                              tears into pieces

 

花 待つことなく                  Flowers wait for no man

人 逝く                             those there pass away

波に 消える                     vanish into waves 

あわれ                               alas!

 

世界に ただひとつ            The only nation in the world

被爆の国 ニッポン             the atom-bombed nation, Japan 

その空に                             in the skies

白い光の 恐怖                   the terrors of white rays

 

六十有余年           A little more than 60 years             

問われる 政治                   what has politics done?

問われる いのち                what is life?

喪われた こころ                  lost hearts

 

なぜ                                     Why?

どうして                               for what reason?

繰り返すことばは                the repeated words  

がれきに 吸い込まれ          are absorbed into rubbles

沈黙(しじま) 空しく            silence is empty 

 

潰滅の地に                         In the annihilated areas

おののきばかり                   there remain nothing but shivers

人 ただ侘(た)つ                those there have only to mourn

 

ふるさとの こころに             In the heart of home

槌音 響くは                        hammering sounds will resound

いつの日か                          when is it?

  

Here is a photo of the ruined fortress (払田柵)in Akita Prefecture(秋田県), constructed in the Heian period(平安時代)(794-1185).

 

 

 

Haikuists in Akita contributed haiku to our network.

They are members of the haiku group: Ten’I (Providence)天為俳句会led by Dr. Akito Arima主宰 有馬朗人).

 

余震なほ朔太郎忌の星月夜         伊藤沐雨 (Mokuu Ito)

 

aftershocks come

on the starlit night

Sakutaro’s anniversary

 

燭台に朱のろうそくや余震来る         伊藤智子 (Satoko Ito)

                                                               

on the candlestick

vermeil candles burning

the aftershock comes

 

大津波退きオリオンの煌めける         伊藤慶子 (Keiko Ito)

                                                               

huge tsunami gone out

Orion’s Belt

sparkling

 

大地震の果てなる春の浅きかな      五十嵐義知 (Yoshitomo Igarashi)

                                                                         

great earthquake over

this spring

how transient!

 

なにもかも攫はれし地に黄水仙         笹尾巳生子 (Mioko Sasao)

                                                                            

everything lost

in the waste land

jonquils bloom

 

鎮魂の瓦礫の町に春の雪            進藤八重子 (Yaeko Shindo)

                                                                            

consoling

the towns of devastation

spring snow

 

奥入瀬の激しき調べ春の霜            鈴木東亜子 (Toako Suzuki)

                                                                              

intense music

of the Oirase River

spring frost

 

浴槽の揺れの余震や春寒             寺田恵子 (Keiko Terata)

                                                                           

the aftershock

of bathtub shaking

spring cold

 

被災地につくしたんぽぽなずなかな     山内誠子 (Seiko Yamanouchi)

                                                                         

for the devastated areas

field horsetail’s shoots,

dandelions, and shepherd’s purses

 

囀に小さな森の膨らめり              和田仁 (Jin Wada)

                                                                           

birdsongs resounding

the small woods seem

bigger and bigger

 

 

Here is a photo of daffodils and local springwater (郷清水) in Akita Prefecture.

 

 

 

Hiroko Kawashiri (川尻弘子) in Akita contributed haiku too.

 

地震止みて運河に重き春の雪

 

the earthquake over

too heavy for the canal

spring snow

 

誰からか呼ばれたやうな朧月

 

the pale moon

i feel like…

someone is calling

 

 

Last of all, let me post my haiku.

 

草青む払田柵やよみがえる

 

grasses growing

over the ruined fortress

reconstructing

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (5)’ appears on May 28.

― Hidenori Hiruta

 

On May 17, one of my haiku mentors, Professor David McMurray at the International University of Kagoshima, sent me an e-mail about Japan-EU English Haiku Contest, suggesting to me that we should send haiku to the contest.

I hope that haikuists as well as my haikuist friends will never fail to submit haiku according to the applicant forms before May 23.

 

Firstly, let me post the e-mail here.

 

Dear Mr. Hidenori Hiruta My good Haikuist friend,

Thank you for your intriguing haiku for the Asahi Haikuist Network. I think you are busy assisting people hurt by the earthquake. When you have time and update your fine website for haikuists, Please let your haiku friends know that The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the European Union are calling on haikuists to write about the bonds of friendship. Prizes include trips to Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture and Brussels.

See www.facebook.com/haikucontest for more details and the application forms. There is no fee. I am one of the judges. You write such fine haiku, please try to win the trip to come to Japan.

Haiku about friendship can be read on the Asahi Haikuist Network at www.asahi.com/english/haiku

The next issues of Asahi Haikuist appear June 3 and 17. Readers are invited to send haiku about rain on a postcard to David McMurray at the International University of Kagoshima, Sakanoue 8-34-1, Kagoshima 891-0197, Japan, or by e-mail to (mcmurray@fka.att.ne.jp).

 

Secondly, let me tell you about the contest in Japanese version.

 

2回日EU英語俳句コンテスト
~最優秀賞受賞者を 1)ファン=ロンパイ欧州理事会議長の出身国であるベルギー,若しくは 2)近代俳句の地,松山市道後温泉にご招待~
(応募の手引き)

平成23年5月12日
外務省
欧州連合

英語版

はじめに

 ファン=ロンパイ欧州理事会議長は,自ら俳句集を出版するほどの俳句ファンであり,昨年4月末に東京で開催された日EU定期首脳協議への同議長の出席を記念して開催した第1回日EU英語俳句コンテストでは,日本とEUをテーマに523句もの作品が集まりました。

 第20回目を迎える本年の日EU定期首脳協議においては,日・EUの関係強化策について首脳間で活発な意見交換が行われることが想定されます。

 先般の東日本大震災を受け,EUからは即座に連帯の意の表明と共に支援の申入れがあり,これまでに,毛布,食料,衣類などの物資支援及び1000万ユーロ(約12億円)を超える寄付決定がなされています。この首脳協議の機会に我が国としてもEUに対し謝意のメッセージを最大限表明したいと考えています。

 今般,外務省とEUでは、日EU定期首脳協議に向けて,「絆(Kizuna)」をテーマに第2回日EU英語俳句コンテストを開催し、日本とEUの絆を一層深めるとともに、英語のHaikuを世界に普及するきっかけにしたいと考えています。

 また,応募者のメッセージを効果的に発信するために,フェイスブックに日EU英語俳句コンテストのファンページを作成しました(www.facebook.com/haikucontest)。応援・感謝のメッセージを添えて投稿していただければ,一部の作品をメッセージとともに主催者がフェイスブックに掲載しますので,他の応募者や登録者と交流することができます。本コンテストをきっかけに俳句を通じた市民レベルでの日EU交流が一層活発になることが期待されます。

フェイスブック=インターネットを通じたネットワーク・サービス。登録・利用方法や詳細は(www.facebook.com/haikucontest)を参照願います。

名称:第2回日EU英語俳句コンテスト

主催:外務省、欧州連合

後援:松山市,フランドル俳句協会(ベルギー)

テーマ:絆 (Kizuna)

英語俳句の形式:短い英文詩(3行詩が望ましい)であれば形式は自由です。季語を含める必要はありませんが「絆」をテーマにして下さい。

応募資格:日本国内又はEU加盟国内に居住する日本国籍又はEU加盟国籍を有する方。年齢は問いません。

応募方法:以下の応募用紙をダウンロードして記入の上、電子メールにてjapaneuhaiku-contest@mofa.go.jpまで送付願います。

応募用紙(PDFWord

応募締め切り:平成23年5月23日(月曜日)14時(日本時間)

審査委員:外務省,欧州連合,デビット・マクマレイ氏(国際俳人)

フェイスブック・

 ファンページ:www.facebook.com/haikucontest

表彰: 最優秀賞を日EU双方の応募者から一句ずつ選出し,日EU定期首脳協議共同記者会見の場において発表するとともに,副賞として,EUからの応募者1名を近代俳句発祥の地である愛媛県道後温泉に招待市,また,日本からの応募者1名をファン=ロンパイ欧州理事会議長の出身国であるベルギーに招待します。

*最優秀賞の受賞連絡及び副賞の詳細については、主催者から受賞者に対して直接連絡があります。なお,国内交通費や滞在費などは受賞者に負担していただく場合もあります。

お問い合わせ先:

外務省欧州局政策課 日EU英語俳句コンテスト担当(haikucontest-qa@mofa.go.jp)。
照会はメールでのみ受け付けております。

 

Lastly, we sincerely hope that you will have a chance to visit Matsuyama or Brussels.

We wish you success.

 

Hidenori Hiruta

 

 

On August 1, 1689, Basho visited Kisakata (象潟), Akita Prefecture (秋田県),  Northern Honshu, on his journey.

Basho wrote about Kisakata in his travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi as follows:

 

江山水陸の風光数を尽くして、今象潟に方寸を責。酒田の湊より東北の方、山を越、磯を伝ひ、いさごをふみて其際十里、日影やゝかたぶく比、汐風真砂を吹上、雨朦朧として鳥海の山かくる。闇中に莫作して「雨も又奇也」 とせば、雨後の晴色又頼母敷と、あまの苫屋に膝をいれて、雨の晴を待。其朝天能霽れて、朝日花やかにさし出る程に、象潟に舟をうかぶ。

先能因島に舟をよせて、三年幽居の跡をとぶらひ、むかふの岸に舟をあがれば、「花の上こぐ」とよまれし桜の老木、西行法師の記念をのこす。

 

Here is a painting of Kisakata in those days.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy; as per original copyright at:

http://www.touhoku.com/0a-03-kisakata.htm

 

Donald Keene translated this section into English as follows:

 

  After having seen so many splendid views of both land and sea, I could think of nothing now but Kisakata. We journeyed to the northeast from the port of Sakata, climbing over hills, following along the shore, plodding through the sand, a distance of about twenty miles in all. As the sun was sinking in the sky a breeze from the sea stirred up the sand, and a misty rain started to fall, obscuring Chokai Mountain. We groped ahead in the darkness. I felt sure that if Kisakata was exquisite in the rain, it would prove no less wonderful when it cleared. We squeezed into a fisherman’s thatch-covered hut and waited for the rain to stop.

  The next morning the weather cleared beautifully. When the morning sun rose in all its splendor, we took a boat out on the lagoon of Kisakata. We put in first at Noin Island, where we visited the remains of the hut in which Noin lived in seclusion for three years. On the opposite shore, when we landed from our boat, we saw the old cherry tree that stands as a memento of Saigyo.

 

In fact, there were 99 small islands and 88 lagoons in Kisakata in those days and the people enjoyed beautiful sceneries or fishing by boat around the islands.

 

However, on July 10, 1804, a big earthquake occurred in Kisakata about 105 years after Basho’s visit there. The earthquake caused upheaval of ground by 2.4 meters. As a result, 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.

You can see such remains as the Noin Island, the boat-tying stone, or small islands in the article Basho’s Stay in Kisakata (1) at the site : https://akitahaiku.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/

 

Here is a photo of present-day Kisakata, 200 years after the earthquake, which was exhibited at Kisakata Local Museum in Nikaho-city, in June , 2004.(にかほ市象潟郷土資料館企画展2004年6月).

 

 

 

As posted already above, Donald Keene, the ex- member of the President’s Advisory Board at Akita International University(AIU)(国際教養大学), kindly contributed part of his English translation for Matsuo Basho’s travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi to our network.

This is because AIU President Mineo Nakajima (中嶋嶺雄) asked Donald Keene for his permission for us to use part of his translation.  

 

Kirby Record, a professor at AIU, teaching as director of English for Academic Purposes, also contributed his haiku to us. 

Haiku by K. Record

On the Earthquake

 

Villages of rubble        瓦礫の村々

Everything washed away    何もかも流される 

But the still-blue sky        しかし静かで青い空

 

 

Clutched in the hand     手でしっかりとつかんでいる

Of a child, floating face down—

             子供の手に、顔を下にして浮かんでいる―

Her favorite doll        彼女の大好きな人形

Yukari Sakamoto (阪本縁), a graduate from AIU, wrote haiku on the earthquake.

なごり雪大地が動き沈黙す

Unseasonable snow 
In silence
While the earth quakes
 

水仙が顔を差し出すがれきの山

Blooming daffodils

Alongside
A heap of debris
 

 

Susan Smela, who studied at AIU in 2010, is now a student at Beloit College in Wisconsin, USA.

On March 25, 2011, Susan sent me an e-mail , saying that they all heard about the huge earthquake in America, and many of them are raising money to help Japan.

Susan also said that she introduced haiga in America, and that she was able to hold a haiga meeting with students from her university (Beloit College in Wisconsin) and teach some basics of haiga and haiku.

It was a great time and the copies she made from my book really helped illustrate what she was talking about. They did some practices, then went in a circle, with 3 people writing one line of a haiku and the 4th person drawing a haiga-style picture.

Here are some photos Susan’s friend took from the meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yasushi Sato (佐藤康), a member of Akita International Haiku Network, contributed his haiku to us.

 

大地震に無慈悲の限り春の雪

spring snow
mercilessly falling on
earthquake-devastated towns

 


大津波言葉空しく春寒し

so devastating tsunami
any words powerless
spring
 relentlessly cold

 

 

Junko Masuda (桝田純子), a member of Akita International Haiku Network, contributed her haiku to us too.

 

復興の未来信じて花ひらく

 

sakura  sakura  bloom

believing in the future

Tohoku region

 

 

Last of all, let me post my haiku.

 

舟止めは夢のまた夢ねぶの花

 

tying a boat

i cannot even dream

mimosa blossoms

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (4)’ appears on May 21.

― Hidenori Hiruta

 

In the first posting, I took up Basho’s haiku from his travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi .

In his diary, Basho seems to have left Hope for us Japanese.

Here is another translation by Donald Keene (ドナルド・キーン).

 

夏草や兵どもが夢の跡          

 

natsukusa ya           The summer grasses –

tsuwamono domo ga     Of brave soldiers’ dreams

yume no ato             The aftermath.               

 

Here is a photo of the tablet of Basho’s haiku.

 

 

 

Basho also wrote haiku about the Chusonji Temple (中尊寺) in Hiraizumi (平泉), Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) in his diary :

 

兼て耳驚したる二堂開張す。経堂は三将の像をのこし、光堂は三代の棺を納め、三尊の仏を安置す。七宝散りうせて、珠の扉風にやぶれ、金の柱霜雪に朽て、既頽廃空虚の叢と成べきを、四面新に囲て、甍を覆て風雨を凌。暫時千歳の記念とはなれり。

 

五月雨の降のこしてや光堂

 

Donald Keene translated this passage and haiku into English as follows:

 

  The two halls of the Chuson Temple, whose wonders I had heard of and marvelled at, were both open. The Sutra Hall contains statues of the three generals of Hiraizumi; the Golden Hall has their coffins and an enshrined Buddhist trinity. The “seven precious things” were scattered and lost, the gem-inlaid doors broken by the wind, and the pillars fretted with gold flaked by the frost and snow. The temple would surely have crumbled and turned into an empty expanse of grass had it not been recently strengthened on all sides and the roof tiled to withstand the wind and rain. A monument of a thousand years has been preserved a while longer.

 

samidare no          Have the rains of spring

furinokoshite ya      Spared you from their onslaught,

hikari-do             Shining hall of Gold?                    

 

Here is a photo of the Golden Hall in the Chusonji Temple.

 

 

「ドナルド・キーンさん国籍取得し日本永住、希望の象徴」

 Donald Keene, who is well-known as a translator of 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi 』, is said to have often visited the Tohoku region while translating Basho’s diary into English and to love the Chusonji Temple in particular.     

 After the earthquake on March 11, Donald Keene decided to take Japanese citizenship and establish permanent residence in Japan.  This is one of the most encouraging and pleasing news to us Japanese.      Donald Keene, who is renowned expert in Japanese literature and culture and a professor emeritus at Columbia University, seems to be a symbol of Hope

 Here is a photo of Donald Keene taken at the final lecture at Columbia University on April 26, 2011 by Atsuko Teramoto (寺本敦子撮影).         

 

                                                                                                                                       

 

Donald Keene said in an interview with Michinobu Yanagisawa, Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent in New York, USA: 

 I want to be with the Japanese people. This is because the Great Japan Earthquake inspired the decision. Japan will surely resurrect itself from the disaster to become an even more splendid country than before, I believe. So I’ll be moving to Japan in a positive frame of mind.  

Michinobu Yanagisawa also reported in the article as follows:  

Born in New York in 1922, Keene attended Columbia University, where he became  fascinated with Japanese culture after reading an English translation of “The Tale of Genji (源氏物語).”   He later served as an interpreter during the Battle of Okinawa in the closing daysof the Pacific War.   Keene has traveled through the Tohoku region many times, including some research trips for “The Narrow Road to Oku,” his English translation of the classic workof literature “Oku no Hosomichi,” by haiku master Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).   While studying in Japan, “I was surrounded by many people who warmly extended a helping hand to me,” Keene said. By obtaining Japanese citizenship, “I’d like to convey my sense of gratitude to the Japanese people, which I’ve so far been unable to do,” he said.                  Referring to reactions in the United States to the earthquake, tsunami and aftermath, including the nuclear crisis, Keene said, “Not a few people in the United States have been moved to learn Japanese people are doing their utmost to rebuild.” Even Americans who had no particular interest in Japan before March 11 have been impressed by Japanese people’s composure in the wake of the disaster, he said. “Americans have never felt such a strong affinity with Japan before,” Keene pointed out.  “I’ve made up my mind to become a Japanese citizen to be together with the Japanese people. I believe although words are important, of course, action is even more important,” Keene said.    “My decision to become a Japanese citizen is the manifestation of my expectations and convictions,” he said, explaining that he had a positive outlook for Japan. “When I returned to Tokyo eight years after World War II, Japan had revived to become a far different country from what I’d seen just after the war’s end. I’m convinced Japan will become an even more wonderful nation by weathering the hardships of this disaster,” he said.

Keene recalled a tour of the Tohoku region in 1955 to research “Oku no Hosomichi.” The view of a cluster of islets from the second floor of an inn in Matsushima (松島) [in Miyagi Prefecture(宮城県)] was unforgettably beautiful,” he said.   “I think there may be no structure in the world as beautiful as the Chusonji Temple [in Iwate Prefecture(岩手県)], so I wonder why UNESCO has repeatedly failed to designate the temple as a World Heritage site,” Keene said.     “I think how terrible it is that the Tohoku region, full of such beautiful places and temples, has been hit so hard by the earthquake and tsunami,” he lamented.

  Here is a photo of the pond of Oizumi, the Motsuuji Temple in Hiraizumi.  (平泉・毛越寺 「大泉が池」)

Looking back on his interaction with Japanese poets and writers, Keene referenced the poet and author Jun Takami(高見順). Near the end of the Pacific War, Takami wrote in his diary of being deeply moved by the sight of people waiting patiently at Tokyo’s Ueno Station, trying to get to the safety of the countryside.   “I want to live together with these people and share death with them, as I love Japan and believe in Japan,” Keene said, quoting Takami.

 “I now feel better able to understand Mr. Takami’s feelings,” he said.  Keene said his lawyer has already begun procedures for obtaining Japanese nationality.   He stressed that living in Japan would bring the most meaning to the rest of his life. He plans to spend time writing biographies of Hiraga Gennai (平賀源内) (1728-1780), a scholar of Western studies in the Edo period (1603-1868), and Takuboku Ishikawa (石川啄木)(1886-1912), a poet in the Meiji era (1868-1912).  In the 1950s, Keene studied at the postgraduate school of Kyoto University.     He forged friendships with such literary giants as Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫), Junichiro Tanizaki (谷崎潤一郎)and Kobe Abe (安部公房).

 In 2008, Keene was given the Order of Culture by the Japanese government in recognition of his contributions to promoting Japanese literature and culture in Europe and theUnited States. 

  (Apr. 24, 2011)

Last of all, let me post my haiku.                                  

 

平泉青葉しげれる光堂     秀法    

 Hiraizumi  aoba shigereru  hikarido

Hiraizumi –                                                                                                                                                                                                        green leaves thrive  

Shining hall of Gold           Hidenori

                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (3)’ appears on May 14.

 ― Hidenori Hiruta