Let haiku be on the UNESCO list!


Here is a photo and haiku about Namahage.




In the Oga Peninsula, Akita Prefecture in the northern Honshu, Japan, there is a deep feeling of mystery as the New Year begins. There is the “Devil Festival” held there on December 31, a ceremony that children find exciting and full of thrills. Two or five young men dressed in straw rain capes, large straw boots and wearing frightful masks run as fast as possible through the village in the snow and shout in a monster-like voice as they knock upon each door. When the door is open, the first devil describes himself as the spirit, while the second devil beats upon a wooden bucket with a large cutting knife.

The elders of the house receive them and bring the devils into the house and the living room. As the devils walk slowly down the hall way the devil of Namahage will shout in a loud voice. “Where are the crybabies in this house?”  Suddenly the devil slides open a door and there will be the children. Namahage will shout. “Are you good children?” “Are you working hard at school?” Of course, the children all nod their heads that they are doing their best.





Messengers of god

bring up Oga children

New Year’s Eve


The real purpose of the arrival of the devils is to punish the lazy fellow who does not do his work or help the parents with the house chores.                                      

The head of the family will serve the devils in a formal manner with sake and fish while the children and the housewife watch from a respectful distance. Suddenly the devil will shout to the wife “Is the cooking knife sharp?”  “Are the New Year’s beans boiled?”


なまはげ (御膳)


The festival consists of drama between human beings and the guardian deities. It is carried out as tradition and custom in the richness and fantasy afforded people of this part of the world. The figures suddenly rush out of the house to pound on the next door in their frantic scratch for a lazy fellow.

Here is a legend about Namahage.

The legend of the Namahage varies according to an area. An Akita legend has developed regarding the origins of namahage, that Emperor Wu of Han (d. 87 BC) from China came to Japan bringing five demonic ogres to the Oga area, and the ogres established quarters in the two local high peaks, Honzan (本山) and Shinzan (真山). These oni (鬼), as they are most commonly called in Japan, stole crops and young women from Oga’s villages.

The citizens of Oga wagered the demons that if they could build a flight of stone steps, one thousand steps in all, from the village to the five shrine halls (variant: from the sea shore to the top of Mt. Shinzan) all in one night, then the villagers will supply them with a young woman every year. But if they failed the task they would have to leave. But just as the ogres were about to complete the work, a villager mimicked the cry of a rooster, and the ogres departed, believing they had failed.





Here are interpretations about the festival.
An obvious purpose of the festival is to encourage young children to obey their parents and to behave, important qualities in Japan’s heavily structured society. Parents know who the Namahage actors are each year and might request them to teach specific lessons to their children during their visit. The Namahage repeat the lessons to the children before leaving the house.

Some ethnologists and folklorists suggest it relates to a belief in deities (or spirits) coming from abroad to take away misfortune and bring blessings for the new year, while others believe it is an agricultural custom where the kami (神, or god) from the sacred mountains visit.

Lastly, let me refer to the Namahage Sedo Festival.

The Namahage Sedo Festival is held on the grounds of the Shinzan Shrine at the foot of Mount Shinzan on the second Friday, Saturday and Sunday of February every year, when the “Devil Festival” on December 31 is re-enacted for the public there.




Namahage join the festival as messengers of god in the following way.

First of all, there is a ceremony in which young men are exorcized and changed into messengers of god with devil masks handed by Shinto priest(神官), entering Mount Shinzan as Namahage.






Then, those Namahage come down to the grounds of the Shinzan Shrine to take part in the festival.





From Mount Shinzan

descend messengers of god

into a festival


Namahge give performances through sacred music and dance in the festival.





Firewood burning

Namahage absorbed in

sacred music and dance





The Oga people have coexisted with nature, inventing drama between human beings and the guardian deities. Giving birth to a feeling of mystery, the festival presents children something exciting and fantastic. The children gradually develop a sense of affiliation with their community and its culture, while the men who act as Namahage reinforce their identity and the continuity of their longstanding traditions.

Namahage is expected in the near future to be added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO as Koshikijima no Toshidon in Kagoshima Prefecture was in 2009.  

We sincerely hope that UNESCO will pay more attention to the campaign “Let haiku be on the UNSCO list!” through haiku about Namahage.

Haiku will be loved more because of its brevity and its coexistence with nature, by which the earth will be a haiku planet.


By Hidenori Hiruta



In Memoriam


It is a great pity that Dr. Mineo NAKAJIMA (中嶋嶺雄), a distinguished international sociologist and president of Akita International University, passed away in Akita City, Japan, on Thursday, 14th of February, 2013.  Having a profound interest in haiku, he supported the activities of Akita International Haiku Network as adviser.  With deep gratitude for his contribution to the Network, let me dedicate five in memoriam short poems (短歌) to his soul, as below.


Minoru KONO (幸野 稔), Chief Director,

Akita International Haiku Network


Here is a photo of Dr. Mineo Nakajima taken at Akita International University.




Here are five in memoriam short poems (短歌) to his soul.





How dazzling was the back

Of my senior schoolmate,

Who carried a flag and led

The demonstration of students

Of our alma mater in Tokyo!





Pursuing the way

Of global education

At university,

The great senior academic

Has met his end here in Akita.





Alas, the president

Of Akita International


Has abruptly passed away

From our town with the snowstorm!





Our passionate talks

On the teaching of English

At elementary school

Will no longer be exchanged

In your vacant office.






Inheriting the will

Of the late senior academic,

Why shouldn’t we develop

The English abilities

Of students here in Akita?




Here is a message on Dr. Mineo Nakajima’s demise, written by Mr. Mark Williams, Vice President and Trustee at Akita International University.


From: <facultyandstaffsupport@aiu.ac.jp>
Date: 2013/2/19
/President Nakajima Passed Away











rin to hisho ya

yuki no yari























Dear Graduates, Students, Faculty and Staff members:







rin to hisho ya

yuki no yari


 It is my sad duty to report to you that President Nakajima passed away in an Akita hospital on Thursday, February 14, 10:26 pm following a short battle with pneumonia.

 A family funeral was held on Monday, February 18, at his home in Tokyo.


 As the President said in an article in the Asahi Shimbun on May 10, 2003, one year before the founding of AIU: “We will only be able to judge this new university in 10 years time when we can see the success of our educational philosophy and the achievement of our graduates.”


 The President’s strong passion for education can be seen in his remark, “I want to make AIU into a modern-day Shokasonjuku (a famous school of Yamaguchi prefecture in the late Edo period) where we can nurture in this local environment people who can operate on the global stage.” It is no exaggeration to say that this dream has been achieved in less than 10 years and that a university which has already became influential on the national stage has taken root here in Akita.

 Until recently, the President was active in all areas of University life, full of new ideas, and passionate about the future direction of the University. The founder of this University is no longer with us to continue his work and we can only express our sadness that his activity has been cut short by his sudden passing.

 However, it is our duty, as students, graduates, faculty and staff members of AIU, to seek to continue the President’s vitality and insight, and to continue to develop AIU into the future. That is the best way for us to ensure his legacy.


 A University Memorial Ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 17 from 1 pm in the AIU Multi-Purpose Hall. This will be an open ceremony to which all are invited.


 We have received the following message from Mrs. Nakajima.

“My husband’s thoughts were always close to his students. How he used to look forward to graduation and matriculation ceremonies where he could welcome his students from all over Japan! That is why he chose to be hospitalized near the campus.

 As his family, we were often surprised to hear him taking about ‘nurturing the next generation of leaders’ and ‘making AIU into the number one University in the world with students’ help’.”

 AIU is a university into which my husband devoted all his energies. I should like to express my sincere gratitude to you all for your help up to this point.”



 Vice President and Trustee

Mark Williams



Here is an English interpretation of haiku in the above message, which was given by Hidenori Hiruta(蛭田秀法).



The Reverend Mineo Nakajima

ascending the heavens in valiance

beyond Mount Yari in snow



Here is a photo of Mount Yari in snow.




Dr. Mineo Nakajima led us haiku poets in Akita as honorary president of Akita International Haiku Association.


Here are two haiku composed to offer our condolences on Dr. Mineo Nakajima’s death.


The first haiku was composed by Jin Wada(和田仁), president of Akita International Haiku Association.



羽の国も淋しからむや鳥雲に   仁


The land of ‘U

feels lonely too –

the bird into the clouds


*  (U)’  is the old name of Akita (秋田).



The last one was written by Hidenori Hiruta(蛭田秀法).



雪の嶺尊師の教へ遺りけり   秀法


The snowy peak –

The Reverend  Mineo Nakajima leaving behind

His teachings



May Dr. Mineo Nakajima’s soul rest in peace!



The next posting ‘Haiku in “My loved Japan” by Clelia Ifrim (1)appears on March 23.


― Hidenori Hiruta



年会誌『詩の国秋田 : Akita – the Land of Poetry 』第4号のEパンフレットによる発刊にあたり、「日露俳句コンテスト」の入選句シリーズを掲載することになりました。



















波音のすずしい音色着信音 秋田工業高等専門学校 松川直樹


Шум волн –

Так звучит прохлада,

Оживляет, как звук принятого сообщения


the sound of waves

its cool tone

it is the ringing tone


(特選) 携帯電話をモチーフにする俳句も増えてきましたが、これは波音と組み合わせることによって非常に詩的にまとまりました。着信音というおよそ詩的でない日常の言葉が上手く句としてなじんでしまいました。





夏の海水面揺らめく月あまた秋田県立能代北高等学校 大鐘智香子 


Летнее море

Дрожь по воде

Множество Лун отражает


summer sea

the water wavering

a lot of moons





海近し夏の潮の香肌でかぐ  秋田工業高等専門学校 白鳥翔


Приближаюсь к берегу

Запах летнего моря

Ощущаю на своей коже


the sea approaching

the smell of summer tide

I take on my skin





水浮かぶ空や立夏の海岸線  秋田工業高等専門学校 柴田晃


Небо – на воде,

Полоса берега

В первый день лета


the water floating

in the sky –

the coastline on the first day of summer





炎天の下跳ね遊ぶ水飛沫 秋田工業高等専門学校 鶴田総一郎


Под палящим солнцем

Веселюсь и прыгаю

Аж брызги летят


under the flaming sun

they jump and play –

the water spray





かき氷ブルーハワイの海の蒼 秋田工業高等専門学校 大髙空


Коктейль со льдом

Голубые Гавайи

В лазурном море


kakigoori, shaved ice flavored with syrup

in the blue Hawaii

the blue of the sea





青い海散った命だけ潮香る 秋田県立角館高等学校 長坂繁樹


Синее море,

Столько потерянных жизней,

Сильный запах прибоя


the blue sea–

in proportion to the lost lives

the tide gives as much fragrance





水面に映った私の変な顔 秋田県立角館高等学校 坂本貴望


Зеркало воды


Моё странное лицо


on the water

it is reflected

my strange face






夏休み海より光る君の笑み 秋田工業高等専門学校 今慎之介


Летние каникулы!

Лучезарнее моря

Твоя улыбка


summer vacation –

brighter than the sea

your smile





海に入り炎天語る背中かな 秋田工業高等専門学校 須藤啓資


Захожу в море,

О палящем солнце

Говорит моя спина


going into the sea

telling about the flaming sun –

it is my back





冬の海流れる白の冷たさよ 秋田工業高等専門学校 鈴木諒介


Зимнее море

Белый поток

Как холодно


winter sea

flows white

how cold it is!



Russian translations by Olga Sumarokova   ロシア語訳 オリガ スマローコヴァ

English translations by Hidenori Hiruta   英訳 蛭田 秀法

The next posting ‘『詩の国秋田』第4号「日露俳句コンテスト」高校生部門(2)矢野玲奈選’ appears on September 5.

― 蛭田 秀法Hidenori Hiruta


平成242012)年7月国際教養大学理事長・学長の中嶋嶺雄先生を名誉会長、同大学副学長のマーク ウィリアムズ先生を副名誉会長として、秋田県俳句懇話会、俳人協会秋田県支部、秋田県現代俳句協会など、秋田県の俳壇の重鎮の皆様を顧問や相談役にお願いして「秋田県国際俳句協会」を設立いたしました。

年会誌『詩の国秋田 : Akita – the Land of Poetry 』第4号のE-パンフレットによる発刊にあたり、秋田県国際俳句協会会長和田仁氏から巻頭言を賜りました。





                     会長 和田 仁








五、国際俳句の世界で高い評価を得ている「秋田国際俳句・川柳・短歌ネットワーク」の実績                                  など

















第一条     本会は、秋田県国際俳句協会と称する。

第二条     本会は、秋田県俳壇の振興と国境や言語の壁を越えて俳句文芸の普及交流に寄与することを目的とする。

第三条     本会は次の事業を行う。

(1)     研修会、講習会の開催。

(2)     県内外および国内外へ情報発信と講師派遣。

(3)     作品と論文発表および業績の顕彰。

(4)     機関誌の発行。

(5)     その他、目的達成のための事業。

第四条     本会に次の役員を置く。

      会長    一名

      幹事長   一名

      幹事    若干名

      監事    一名

      事務局長  一名

      会計    一名 


第五条 本会の会費は、年二千円とする。

第六条 本会の会計年度は、毎年4月1日から3月31日までとする。

第七条   本規約は、役員会に諮り役員の過半数をもって柔軟かつ発展的に変更


第八条    役員会の決議により名誉会長、名誉副会長や顧問職、相談役を設けることが出来る。

 附則 本規約は平成24年7月1日から施行する。







名誉  会長  中嶋 嶺雄



名誉副会長  マーク ウィリアムズ


顧   問  川村三千夫


顧   問  武藤 鉦二


顧   問  勝又美智雄



顧   問  アレクサンダー ドーリン



顧   問  伊藤 沐雨


顧   問  伊藤 青砂


顧   問  舘岡 誠二


顧   問  岡部いさむ


顧   問  石田 冲秋



顧   問  岩谷 塵外


    役  手島 邦夫



    役  工藤 一紘



    役  安田 龍泉


    役  山崎 雅葉


    役  伊藤 虹洋


  談 役  宮本 秀峰



執行  委員

会 長  和田 仁 


幹事長  蛭田秀法



監 事  津谷 聡







桝田 純子


土井 育子







蛭田 秀法



 The next posting ‘『詩の国秋田』第4号「秋田俳壇の先達」シリーズ(1)’ appears on September 2.



蛭田 秀法Hidenori Hiruta


平成232011)年8月発行の『詩の国秋田 : Akita – the Land of Poetry 』第3号には、秋田県教育委員会教育長米田進氏から巻頭言を賜りました。













当ネットワークでは「Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake(震災句)」というテ-マで430日からお寄せいただいた作品を13回のシリ-ズで毎週土曜日に掲載しました。






















東日本大震災でおなくなりになられた方々のご冥福をお祈りいたします。 合掌



The next posting ‘『詩の国秋田』第4号-秋田県国際俳句協会の誕生-’ appears on September 1.



蛭田 秀法Hidenori Hiruta


平成22(2010)年8月発行の『詩の国秋田 : Akita – the Land of Poetry 』第2号には、秋田県知事佐竹敬久氏と秋田大学名誉教授(文学博士)石川三佐男氏から玉稿を賜りました。














              石川 三佐男・秋田大学名誉教授(文学博士)






  絶壁千尋挟水懸  絶壁千尋、挟水懸かり

    虹霓雙架影横天    虹霓雙架し、影、天に横たはる

    紅暾晨上青龍臥    紅暾、晨に上れば、青龍臥し

    海霧晴来鮫室前    海霧晴れ来たる鮫室の前に













The next posting ‘『詩の国秋田』にちなんで(6)-鎮魂と慰霊-’ appears on August 31.



蛭田 秀法Hidenori Hiruta


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

Professor Dolin helped us in many ways as one of the founders of the Akita International Haiku Network.

Prof. Dolin kindly contributed to us the following article “The Rediscovery of Japanese Poetry” for the yearly pamphlet 詩の国秋田 : Akita – the Land of Poetry published in August , 2009.



Here are a photo of Professor Dolin and his brief profile.






  Alexander Dolin (b. 1949) is teaching Comparative Culture, World Civilization and Japanese Literature at Akita International University.  Graduate of Moscow State University. Ph.D degree in Japanese Literature at Russian Academy of Sciences. In Japan since 1991. Before moving to Akita worked as a Professor of Comparative Literature and Culture at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies .

   A, Dolin is an author of several comprehensive monographs on Japanese literature and culture, Russian literature, culture and society  as well as on the world civilizations issued in Russian, German and Japanese. Many volumes of classic and modern Japanese literature (especially poetry) were published  in his translation. He is a member of several Japanese and international  academic societies,  of Russian Writers’ Union and  International PEN Club. Award of the  Special Contribution to Culture Prize by the All-Japan Translators Association (1995)

    Prof. Dolin has a long time experience of writing for media in Russian, English and Japanese including such Japanese newspapers and magazines as “Sankei shimbun“,  “Chuocoron” “Shincho 45”.


Here is Professor Dolin’s article contributed to us.

The Rediscovery of Japanese Poetry



Japanese tanka and haiku are already well known all over the world and don’t need any special recommendations. Thousands of Europeans and Americans have joined the club of haiku lovers, hundreds tried to compose tanka in their native language. Numerous collections of poetic translations from the old and new Japanese classics in English, French, German and Russian flooded the book market.  The staggering success of traditional Japanese poetry in the West might seem a miracle if we look back at the beginning of the XX c. when tanka and haiku were barely known in Europe and many Japanese were ashamed of their “imperfect” poetic tools.

Since the late 19th c. in the West poets, critics and readers at large split into two opposite factions regarding the appraisal of classical Japanese poetry.

One group would always treat tanka and haiku as exotic decorative genres quite alien to the glorious traditions of European poetry. The members of this faction, even those who liked Japanese civilization, remained very skeptical as far as the possibilities of traditional Japanese verse were concerned. G.Sansom, the most renowned expert in Japanese history and culture, even called Japanese poetic language “an elegant but ungrateful tool”. This attitude, which had influenced European “Japonisme” in the Arts, has been always rather typical of some Western literati who tended to regard Japanese artifacts and poems at large just as beautiful and trendy toys.

However the larger part of critics and readers would accept the Japanese poetic tradition as a mystical revelation full of sublime beauty, supernatural wisdom and unbelievable eloquence – something like a supreme poetic truth and absolute perfection that is a gem in itself, even if its translation looked like an ugly rugged rock.

Of course this blind worshipping denied any need for in-depth formal analysis, practical comparisons or constructive criticism. It dominated in the early 20th c. and is still amazingly explicit in some parts of the world – for example, in Russia. Some self-proclaimed “poets” took advantage of this situation bringing to the market collections of clumsy verse or word for word prosaic interpretations under the name of tanka, or haiku. In fact it was either a mere stylization or a word for word academic translation. Later a number of talented European and American poets contributed to the development of haiku and tanka poetry in the West.

On the first sight, traditional Japanese syllabic verse seems to be rather primitive to the Western readers. For about 15 centuries it remained within the boundaries of a single poetic meter based on the combination of only two syllabic units – 5 or 7 syllables in each. It is a unique example of loyalty to one formal design among the world poetic traditions. But let’s refer to the observations of Professor N. Konrad, the founder of Russian school of classical Japanese studies:

Japanese syllabic verse based on the variation of 5 and 7-syllables units would always sound monotonous. This monotony inflicted by the meter is partly neutralized by the current of musical accents in the verse, which can vary even in two poems with a similar metric pattern. One might add here the melodic patterns that can be different in every particular tanka. Thus alleged visible metric monotony is compensated by acoustic means.”

The first encounter of the Europeans with the legacy of Japanese classics resulted in a few collections of tanka and haiku translated by the leading Japanologists of the time. They tried to perceive the overtones of the miniature poems but failed as there was no ground for it ready yet. Medieval poetics and aesthetics were still shrouded in mystery as the major treatises of the poetic canon remained unavailable.

B.H.Chamberlain in his anthology “The Classical Japanese Poetry” (1891) made a nice selection from the classical monuments. His only concern was to preserve the “idea” rendering  the poems in a westernized form with conventional rhythm and even rhyme:

Oh love! Who gave you

koishi to wa

thy superfluous name?

ta ga nazukeken

Loving and dying –

koto naran

isn’t it the same?

shinu to zo tada ni



(“Kokinshu”, #698)

W.J. Aston, a famous researcher of the late 19th c. and a renowned translator of Japanese classics, was less infatuated with exotic images and therefore was more successful in his experiments. Unfortunately he was not a poet and lamented in his works on the absence of a poetic genius who could offer an authentic metric version of the best tanka from the MANYOSHU  and the KOKINSHU anthologies. Unlike many scholars of the late 20th century who would call their unsophisticated interpretations of  tanka “poetic translations”, Aston defined his translations as word for word (or line by line) prosaic rendering.

Here is the same tanka by an unknown author from the KOKINSHU presented by Aston

Who would it have been

That first gave love

This name?

“Dying” is the plain word

He might have used.

The translation is correct but rather neutral, almost immaculate. Of course it is a poor match to the magic poetic splash of emotion in original.

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), a renowned American intellectual who lived many years in Japan and published fine translations of Japanese folk tales and ghost stories, also worked on the translations of tanka and haiku. As his proficiency in Japanese was not sufficient, Hearn would hire native speakers as assistants.

This point definitely contributed to the authenticity of his translations although his poetic talent seems very dubious. Hearn tried to keep the original one-line structure of both tanka and haiku making them sound either like pathetic exclamations or like prosaic contemplations.

In the posthumous edition of Hearn’s poetic translations long lines were cut by the editors into two uneven parts, which distorted even the best of the poems:

Wake up! Wake up! – I will

make thee my

Comrade, thou sleeping



In 1896 a collection of poetic translations by Karl Florenz was printed in Germany under the romantic title “A Poetic Greeting from the Orient”. It contained pretty adaptations of the tanka taken at random from different sources, which were inspired by the Japonisme trend in European culture. Needless to say how far were these bijouts from the original songs.

However a number of poems presented in the “Geschichte Japanisches Literatur” (1906) by Florenz were much more correct being in fact normal word for word translations. German versions of tanka by Florenz, Ratgen and Hauser became an incentive for some Russian poets of the time.



Please check the following sites of our network, and you will enjoy haiku by Professor Dolin’s students as well as by himself.

Prof. Dolin teaches haiku to the students in his class of Japanese Literature every November, inviting me to his classes as a guest judge.




















The next posting ‘『詩の国秋田』にちなんで(5)-石川三佐男先生の卓見-’ appears on August 30.


蛭田 秀法Hidenori Hiruta













Akita dewa

I tsudemo tanoshii



Akita People can

I mprovise the lyrics and poems

Unlimited ways














The next posting ‘『詩の国秋田』にちなんで(4)-アレクサンダ- ド-リン先生の貢献-’ appears on August 28.


蛭田 秀法Hidenori Hiruta








Three years have passed since we founded the Akita International Haiku Network on May 1, 2009.

At the same time we published the yearly pamphlet 『詩の国秋田 : Akita – the Land of Poetry』 on August 31, 2009.

Here is its front cover page, in which the article by President Mineo Nakajima (中嶋嶺雄)at Akita International University(国際教養大学)is shown.



In this article Dr. Nakajima presented haiku he wrote during his stay in Nara, when he went on a school trip in his junior high school days.





Donald Keene, the ex- member of the President’s Advisory Board at AIU, kindly contributed his Japanese translation for Matsuo Basho’s haiku from ‘The Narrow Road to Oku ‘ by Matsuo Basho (『おくのほそ道』松尾芭蕉).





Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.

        Donald Keene


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).

His Japanese name is 怒鳴門




 AIU President Mineo Nakajima (中嶋嶺雄), who is one of the most important founders of the Akita International Haiku Network, is eminent as Ph.D., Sociology, The University of Tokyo, M.A., International Relations, The University of Tokyo, and B.A., China Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

You will see what Dr. Nakajima has been doing as AIU President on the Internet at http://www.aiu.ac.jp.




Dr. Nakajima has also a clear understanding of haiku and feels a great love for haiku.

This is partly because his late father, Seiyo Nakajima (中嶋晴陽), was one of the  haiku poets in Japan.

In 1990, Dr. Nakajima compiled a book of haiku by his father, titled Seiyo Kushu (晴陽句集).

Let me show you its front cover page and the last haiku by Seiyo Nakajima.






Dr. Nakajima has written articles or essays on haiku for haiku journals or the newspapers, and has appeared in NHK TV program on haiku these days.

He also contributed the article of congratulations on the first issue of the yearly pamphlet by the Akita International Haiku Network.


Last of all, we sincerely hope that haiku will spread out to the world more because of its  brevity and its coexistence with nature.


The next posting ‘『詩の国秋田』にちなんで(2)-有馬朗人先生との出会い-’ appears on August 24.



Hidenori Hiruta



Japan-Russia Haiku Contest
(Guidelines for Submission)

April 17, 2012

Akita International Haiku Network





This is a photo of a haiku workshop for the group of Professor Tatiana Breslavets, Japanese literature and Philology Group at Far Eastern Federal University.




From September 25 till October 2, 2011, Hidenori Hiruta, a member of the Haiku International Association (HIA), whose president is Dr. Akito Arima, had an opportunity to introduce and share haiku in Vladivostok, Russia.

During his stay in Vladivostok, Hiruta visited Eastern School, Far Eastern Federal University, and Japan Center there.

His visit there was supported by Akita Prefecture and Akita International University as well as by the Haiku International Association and the JAL Foundation.

On September 26, Hiruta paid a courtesy visit to Japan Center and Far Eastern Federal University, School of Regional and International Studies, Chair of Japanese Philology, Chair of Asia Pacific Region Countries’ Languages.

Hiruta told Director, Sohei Oishi and Head of the Chair, Alexander Shnyrko about the aims of his visit, and asked them for their cooperation, hoping for a further spread of haiku in Vladivostok.

  In his visits to Eastern School, Hiruta told about haiku to kindergarten children and elementary pupils who study Japanese. The children enjoyed reading haiku in chorus in Japanese as well as in Russian. They also enjoyed drawing pictures  about haiku.

In Japan Center in Vladivostok, Hiruta gave a talk on “Haiku and Tea Ceremony” to the members of the tea club “Ichigo Ichie no Kai” formed for the cultural course.

The articles on Hiruta’s activities for cultural exchanges through haiku in Vladivostok have appeared in the following homepages of the Japan club at Japan Center in Vladivostok and the Haiku International Association in Tokyo.

* The Russian version : http://www.jp-club.ru/?p=2341

* The Japanese version :http://www.haiku-hia.com/report/jp1.html

* The English versionhttp://www.haiku-hia.com/about_haiku/world_info_en/russian/




Hiruta gave four-day workshops of 90 minutes on writing haiku, short poems, at the FEFU School of Regional and International Studies. Students learned to write haiku through these workshops.

The article on the workshops at Far Eastern Federal University has appeared in the homepage of Far Eastern Federal Universisty.


It says as follows.

The workshops were conducted by “Haydzin” Hiruta Hidenori — a poet who writes haiku specially arrived to Vladivostok. Students, studying the Japanese language, listened with interest to the explanations of how to write haiku in various languages — Japanese, English and Russian, and then created their own poems.

Mr. Hiruta arrived from Akita Prefecture, which has friendly relations with Primorsky Region. Next year there will be the 20-th Anniversary of sister-relationships between Akita and Vladivostok. Universities in these cities have students and teachers exchange agreements, so Far Eastern Federal University students may participate in the Haiku contest in Russian, as well as in Japanese and English. Winners of the competition have a real opportunity to go to Japan.





Such cultural exchanges as this caused a great sensation there in Vladivostok, making them more interested in haiku and inspiring them to write haiku.

This is why the Akita International Haiku Network is pleased to launch the Japan-Russia Haiku Contest, as an opportunity to share haiku related to the theme of “the sea”.  

The organizer hopes that this contest will serve as an opportunity to deepen mutual understanding among people, to promote the interaction of people’s views on Japan and Russia, as well as to convey the enjoyment of writing and reading haiku.

The organizer also hopes that it will serve as an opportunity to strengthen and develop the sister city relationship between Akita and Vladiovostok, as well as to promote and increase comprehensive exchanges such as cultural, economical, medical, agricultural ones between Akita Prefecture and Primorsky Region.  

As mentioned in the homepage of Far Eastern Federal University, Akita Prefecture has friendly relations with Primorsky Region. In March, 2010, Akita Prefecture and Primorsky Region concluded the treaty that there should be more exchanges promoted and increased between them. This treaty reminds Hiruta of those fruitful exchanges the ancient people had by way of the northern sea route from the 8th century till the 10th century. Japan is said to have started trading with Balhae渤海 by ship in those days.



Organizer: Akita International Haiku Network

Sponsor: JAL Foundation


Akita Prefecture, Akita International University, Akita Prefectural Board of Education, Akita Prefectural Artistic and Cultural Association, Akita International Association, Akita City, Akita City Board of Education, The Akita Sakigake Shimpo, Akita Branch of Ten’i (Providence) Haiku Group, Akita Khorosho Club, Akita Vladivo Club, Haiku International Association, Japan Center in Vladivostok, Far Eastern Federal University, Yosano Akiko Memorial Literary Association, KYODO NEWS Vladivostoku Bureau

Theme: Umi ( the sea : 海 )

One of the most popular haiku related to the sea was written by Matsuo Basho in 1689 . Basho’s haiku is found in his travel diary Oku no Hosomichi ( The Narrow Road to Oku).

荒海や佐渡によこたふ天河        芭蕉

Araumi ya  sado ni yokotau  amanogawa


Turbulent the sea –

Across to Sado stretches

The Milky Way                         Basho


Translated by Donald Keene(ドナルド・キーン:鬼怒鳴門)


Original, previously unpublished haiku referring to some aspect of the sea should be submitted according to the entry form.

Japanese haiku poets should write haiku following traditonal styles in the Japanese language, having season words. And they have to add its Russian and English traslations.  Otherwise, they could leave a message in each translation blank : I would like the organizer to translate haiku into Russian or English.

Russian haiku poets should keep in mind that haiku is considered to be the shortest poem in the world, and submit haiku with a length of three lines in the Russian language. Season words are not essential. And they have to add its Japanese and English translations.  Otherwise, they could leave a message in each translation blank : I would like the organizer to translate haiku into Japanese or English.

Limited number of entries: Only one haiku may be submitted per haikuist.


The contest is open to the public of nationals of Japan or Russia who are currently residing in Japan or Russia.


Please download the entry form below and submit it by email to: shhiruta@nifty.com

Entry form:  Japanese entry form   Russian entry form

Submission period:  Saturday May 5, 2012  –  Friday May 25, 2012

Deadline: Friday May 25, 2012


Hidenori Hiruta, Secretary-General of Akita International Haiku Network, and also a member of Haiku International Association

Alexander Dolin, Professor at Akita International University

Kunio Teshima, Professor at Akita National College of Technology

Kazuhiro Kudo, Teacher at Akita National College of Technology

Okiaki Ishida, Chief Editor of Haisei (Haiku Stars)

Yoshitomo Igarashi, a dojin of a haiku group : Ten’I (Providence) led by Dr. Akito Arima

Kyoko Uchimura, a dojin of a haiku group : Ten’I (Providence) by Dr. Akito Arima, and also a member of Haiku International Association

Reina Yano, a dojin of two haiku groups : Tamamo led by Ms. Tsubaki Hoshino and Ten’I (Providence) by Dr. Akito Arima


A winner will be notified by email and announced on the website of Akita International Haiku Network, on Friday, June 29, 2012.  The winner will be offered a round-trip to Akita City, Akita, which is called “The Land of Poetry” in Akita Prefectural song, in Northern Honshu, Japan from Vladivostok Airport and a stay in a hot spring hotel there if he or she lives in Russia. The winner is supposed to attend Japan-Russia haiku meeting held in Akita City, on Saturday, Sepetember 22, 2012.  And if the winner resides in Japan, a round -trip ticket to Vladivostok City of Russia from Narita Airport and a stay in a hotel there will be offered. The winner is supposed to attend Japan-Russia haiku meeting held in Vladivostok City, the site of APEC Summit 2012 in Russia, on Saturday, September 29, 2012.  Further information will be notified directly from the organizer to the winner.

Grand prize a winner gets is called “Rogetsu Sanjin International Award”.  Rogetsu Sanjin is another pen name of Ishii Rogetsu石井露月, one of the great haiku poets in Japan Akita ever produced. Rogetsu is a pen name, whose real name is Ishii Yuji (1873 – 1928). This haiku contest is held partly because of celebrating the 140th anniverasay of Ishii Rogetsu’s birth.

JAL Foundation Award is presented to two winners by the JAL Foundation. Honorable mentions are also presented to six winners by Akita Prefecture governor, Akita City mayor, superintendent of Akita City board of education.

Each winner is presented with Haiku By World Children edited by the JAL Foundation as an award.

*The contest winner will be notified by email from the organizer and be given further details of the round-trip prize. Please note that the winner may have to cover some of the travelling costs.



Here is a photo of Rogetsu’s haiku related to the sea.




海の如く野ハ緑也五月晴                 露月山人

Umi no gotoku  no wa midori nari  satsukibare


Like the sea

the field is green –

fine May weather                                                            Rogetsu Sanjin


Translated by Hidenori Hiruta



Lastly, here are two photos of the sunset, which will surely inspire you to write haiku related to the sea.

The first one was taken from a hotel facing Amur Bay, Vladivostok City.

The second one was taken from Katsuhira Hill facing the mouth of the Omono River, Akita City.







The next posting ‘Haiku by World Children : Impressions of Water’ appears on April 28.

― Hidenori Hiruta ( Member of HIA)