Book Announcement! “Scaring Crow” Haiku by Adjei Agyei-Baah

Adjei Agyei-Baah, the winner of Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Award of the 3rd Japan-Russia Haiku Contest 2014, published the book titled “Scaring Crow Haiku Adjei Agyei-Baah” with a Foreword by Hiroaki Sato as Buttonhook Press 2022 Chapbook Series Poetry: All forms & styles Haiku.


His book was dedicated to Paul MacNeil.


To the memory of a dear friend

and an Associate Editor of the Heron’s Nest Journal (from 2000–2019)

Paul MacNeil


Hiroaki Sato wrote a foreword as follows.


Mr. Adjei Agyei-Baah’s book of haiku, Scaring Crow, is a collection of his own haiku, all about scarecrows. Scarecrows came into being as agriculture became the main source of human food, we are told, with early records in Egypt dating from 3,000 years ago. In recent decades, in America and other European countries, scarecrows have merged with Halloween figures patched up mainly to scare people for fun, but there remain many countries, among them Ghana where Mr. Agyei-Baah lives, where they are still used for their original purpose: to scare or repel birds and animals—although when it comes to the English name of this contraption, the “crows,” being wise, quickly learn it is just a harmless decoy, it has been observed. In Japan, where haiku originated, the scarecrow is called kakashi. Some say it was originally kagashi, “something that makes animals smell,” as it referred to the custom of putting out a burnt piece of meat or fish to warn creatures that can’t stand such smells. The set of three Chinese words applied to kakashi, 案山子, is obscure in its etymology, some finding its origins in a Zen statement in China. There are a number of names for kakashi if you include its local names. Each haiku is expected to come with a kigo, “seasonal word,” and each kigo specifies a specific season. Kakashi was adopted as a kigo in 1641, and the season it specifies is autumn. This “rule” may not apply to some countries and regions, of course. Kawai Sora (1649–1710), who famously accompanied Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694) in the latter’s grand trek into “The Interior,” wrote: 

Kuniguni ni kakashi mo kawaru sugata kana 

The figures of kakashi change from province to province

Many of Mr. Agyei-Baah’s haiku collected in this volume can be readily translated into Japanese 5-7-5 syllables, suggesting his deep affinity to this poetic form. Here are several of the 102 haiku in Scaring Crow. 

there he stands
with a crown of bird poo— 
field scarecrow 

tsuttate fun ni mamireta kakashi kana 

country walk... 
passing on an old hat
to a scarecrow

inaka aruki furui bōshi o kakashi yari 

This haiku reminds me of one by Kawahigashi Hekigodō (1873–1937), who trekked through Japan for five years, beginning in 1906. 

waga kasa to waga mino o kisete kakashi kana

I’ve made a kakashi wear both my hat my straw-coat 
Back to Mr. Agyei-Baah’s haiku. 

black night: 
a scarecrow 
scattering fireflies 

kuroki yoru kakashi chirakasu hotaru kana 

morning light
a bird flutters from
the scarecrow’s bosom

asa no hi ni kakashi mune tatsu kotori kana

And here is the concluding haiku. 

alone in the field
a scarecrow
in the blaze of morning sun 

kyokujitu no hi ni hitori tatsu kakashi kana 

Hiroaki Sato

Author of On Haiku

                New York City

                              Fall 2021

Book Review 

I have enjoyed reading 102 haiku in the book. Two haiku below remind me of the song of kakashi, 案山子, which we sang in music classes at our primary school.

Here are these two haiku.

behind the scarecrows

the farm owner’s children

play hide and seek


gentle breeze…

the farmer’s child ties his kite

to the scarecrow


Here are the words of the song of kakashi, 案山子, which I learned in my childhood.


山田の中の 一本足の案山子

yamada no naka no  ippon ashi no kakashi

天気のよいのに 蓑傘着けて

tenki no yoi no ni  minokasa tsukete 

朝から晩まで ただ立ちどおし

asa kara ban made  tada tachidooshi

歩けないのか 山田の案山子

arukenai no ka  yamada no kakashi


One-legged scarecrow in paddy fields in the mountains

even though the weather is nice, wears a straw-hat and a straw-coat

from morning till night, just stands up.

Can’t he walk, scarecrow in paddy fields in the mountains?


山田の中の 一本足の案山子

yamada no naka no  ippon ashi no kakashi

弓矢で威して 力んで居れど

yumiya de odoshite  rikinde oredo

山では烏が かあかと笑う

yama dewa karasu ga  kaaka to warau

耳が無いのか 山田の案山子

mimi ga naino ka  yamada no kakashi


One-legged scarecrow in paddy fields in the mountains

is powerful with a bow and arrow, but

crows laugh in the mountains.

Doesn’t he have ears, scarecrow in paddy fields in the mountains?


The song of kakashi, 案山子 is a song by the Ministry of Education published for the second grade of the common primary school in 1911. I learned the song in 1949. Even today, I can sing this song by myself.

In the first stanza, children feel thankful to the one-legged scarecrow for  protecting rice fields from birds and animals. They wish he could walk as he likes.

In the second stanza, it seems to children that scarecrows are laughed at by cawing crows in the mountains. They wonder if scarecrows have no ears. 

This song is a childish world of thanks and humor.  

Here, let me tell you about 102 haiku by Adjei.

In his haiku a scarecrow appears in African nature, such as drought, harmattan, hurricane, flood, forest fire, storm, and winter wind. The scarecrow has to survive these severe phenomena. His scarecrow has also his time in cultural events, such as All Saints Day, Halloween, Palm Sunday, ghost story, and World Charity Day. The scarecrow lives with birds, insects, and animals, such as crow, owl, bat, swallow, rodent, kingfisher, cricket, locust, fireflies, butterfly, termite, lizard, and bull.

The relation of a scarecrow with humans is the most important. The scarecrow appears in Adjei’s haiku with such people as grandpa, daddy, neighbor, farmer, farmer’s son, farmer’s child, farm owner’s children, peasant, ploughman, reaper, veteran, and bride.   

How does a scarecrow spend a day in Adjei’s haiku? Keywords are these words: morning sun, first light, sunshine, light sun, settling sun, moon, moonlit, sickle moon, full moon, and stars. We find how the scarecrow leads his life under the heaven.

A scarecrow in the book spends harvest season, sometimes lives in rain and thunder, sometimes enjoys breeze, becomes a snowman in winter, remains dumb on what he sees, and ascends in the wind.   

Lastly, we would like to express “Congratulations” on the publication of the book with the photo of the awarded haiku by Adjei Agyei-Baah.


Hidenori Hiruta

Akita International Haiku Network


One thought on “Book Announcement! “Scaring Crow” Haiku by Adjei Agyei-Baah

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