Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (4)



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.




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




Photo courtesy; as per original copyright at:



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



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)



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.




the earthquake over

too heavy for the canal

spring snow




the pale moon

i feel like…

someone is calling



Last of all, let me post my haiku.




grasses growing

over the ruined fortress



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

― Hidenori Hiruta


One Response to “Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (4)”

  1. The Naso no Shirataki waterfall in.Kisakata..Kisakata -machi was a located in ..On along with the town of Kisakata was merged into the city of ..In the.town had an estimated of 12 836 and a of 103.50 persons per . The total area was 124.02 km ..The poet visited Kisakata as part of his travels in. There is a.statue of Bash at the Kanman Temple which he visited..For hikers and climbers Kisakata is the jumping-off point for trips to Mount.Ch kai.

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