Blog Tōhoku Bentō by Ben Grafström : グラフストロム・ベンのブログ


On October 13, 2015, Ben Grafström received Akita International University President’s Award in the English section of the 4th Japan – Russia Haiku Contest for the following haiku :


Full moon in summer—

ripples in the lake reach the shore

kissing our toes






Here is a photo taken at the award-giving ceremony.



Here is a brief bio of Ben Grafström.






Ben Grafström

Akita University

Lecturer 講師


I studied Japanese literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU) where I earned my Master’s Degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. My thesis research was based on the genre kōwakamai, which was a popular performance art form from the Muromachi period to the beginning of the Edo period.



In 2009 after I graduated from CU, my graduate school advisor, a classmate, and I accompanied 12 American teachers through Japan following Matsuo Bashō’s Oku no hosomichi trail. The purpose of this research project was to study Bashō in-depth, while at the same time learning about Japan’s many traditions, culture, and history. It was during this trip that I first began to consider composing haiku in English seriously.




I am now entering my sixth year at Akita University. Aside from my regular courses, I also teach a seminar called “Journey to the Interior” and another course called “Introduction to Japanese Culture II.” “Journey to the Interior” is an intensive study class focused on Bashō, but students also learn a lot about composing haiku in English. There are three haiku competitions held in the class that allow students to share their best haiku with each other. In the Japanese culture class, we also talk a lot about haiku as well as Japan’s literary tradition leading up to haiku.


秋田大学で教えるのは、今年6年目になります。英語科目以外にも「Journey to the Interior」と「日本文化入門II」を担当します。「Journey to the Interior」は『奥の細道』の集中的な授業です。学生は芭蕉を学ぶと共に、英語で句作の方法を習います。学期中、句会三つを開催します。留学生向きの「日本文化入門II」の科目内容は、俳句だけではなくて、奈良時代から江戸時代の日本の文学や和歌も教えます。


This spring (2017) I taught a course for Hōsō Daigaku on English haiku. I hope that the students who took this course were able to improve their English language ability through creative writing. Also, I hope that Japanese people who have an interest in haiku will perhaps consider haiku in English more seriously.




I write haiku in English regularly and hope to one day publish a collection of my poems.




Ben Grafström


Center for Promotion of Educational Research and Affairs

Akita University


1-1 Tegata Gakuen-machi, Akita City, Akita 010-0852

018-889-2463 (office phone & fax)


講師 グラフストロム・ベン



010-0852 秋田県秋田市


tel・fax: 018-889-2463


卯の花や箸の浮きたる洗桶  小川 軽舟









Tōhoku Bentō, Ben’s bog, is full of exciting and inspiring articles on Life, Literature, Eating, and Drinking in Japan’s North East.


Lastly, we sincerely hope that everyone enjoys Ben’s blogs and photograpy.  


                                                                                                                                                                                    By Hidenori Hiruta


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s