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?”
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.
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
1,130 haiku from 46 nations to the 3rd Japan-Russia Haiku Contest
August 31 , 2014
1. We held the third Japan-Russia Haiku Contest in celebration of the 29th National Cultural Festival in Akita 2014, receiving the submitted haiku from May 1 (Thursday) till June 30 (Monday).
The organizers are Akita International Haiku Association, The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Akita Prefecture, The Akita Prefectural Executive Committee of the 29th National Cultural Festival.
2. Only one haiku was allowed to be submitted per haiku poet, and there were three sections of Japanese haiku, Russian haiku, and English haiku. One of the languages had to be chosen from among Japanese, Russian, and English in composing and submitting haiku.
As a result, 1,130 haiku were submitted from 46 nations.
3. 634 haiku were submitted for the Japanese haiku section.
627 haiku were submitted from Japan, 3 haiku from Russia and Argentina, and 1 haiku from Romania.
4. 54 haiku were for the Russian haiku section.
36 haiku were submitted from Russia, 4 haiku from Ukraine, 2 haiku from Belarus, Israel, and Romania each, 1 haiku from Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, USA, and Japan each.
5. 442 haiku were submitted for the English haiku section.
442 haiku lovers or haiku poets were submitted from 46 nations:
Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nepal, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, Ukraine, and USA.
6. Awards and Announcement:
Six winners of each haiku section are notified by email at the end of August or at the beginning of September.
The winners will be announced on the occasion of International Haiku Forum held Saturday, October 25, 2014, 13:30 ~ 17:00 p.m., at Akita International University.
They are expected to be present at the 3rd Japan-Russia haiku contest awards ceremony then.
If they do not attend the ceremony, they will be sent the certificate and some prize by mail.
The winners are also announced on the website of Akita International Haiku Network (https://akitahaiku.com/) on October 25, 2014.
Akita Prefectural Governor Award is presented to the best haiku in the Japanese section.
AIH President Award is presented to the best haiku in the Russian section by Akita International Haiku Association.
AIU President Award is presented to the best haiku in the English section by Akita International University.
These three winners above mentioned are presented a round-trip airplane ticket between Haneda Airport and Akita Airport when they attend the 3rd Japan-Russia haiku contest awards ceremony.
If they don’t come there, the winners will be sent the certificate and the prize by mail.
JAL Foundation Award, the Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Award, the Akita Sakigake Shimpo President Award, Akita Branch of Ten’i (Providence) Haiku Group Chairman Award, Akita International University President Award, Akita International Haiku Network Chief Director Award are also presented to one of the honorable mentions in each section by the sponsors above mentioned.
Each winner is presented with the certificate and the prize at the ceremony or by mail.
7. The posting of haiku on the website
English haiku submitted from 46 nations will be posted on the website of Akita International Haiku Network from the end of November or at the beginning of December.
― 蛭田秀法（Hidenori Hiruta）
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
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.
Subject: 中嶋学長御逝去のお知らせ/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
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.
The land of ‘U’
feels lonely too –
the bird into the clouds
* ‘羽 (U)’ is the old name of Akita （秋田）.
The last one was written by Hidenori Hiruta（蛭田秀法）.
The snowy peak –
The Reverend Mineo Nakajima leaving behind
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
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.
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 鬼怒鳴門．
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 version : http://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).
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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)
On February 29, I happened to see ten swans in the sun at the bank of the Omono River （雄物川） in Akita prefecture （秋田県）. It was such a peaceful view. The swans enjoyed themselves on a fine early spring day.
Here are photos and haiku about swans.
a flight of swans
have a break there –
the spring bank Hidenori
the day nearing
for swans to leave –
the Omono River Hidenori
Manisha Kundu-Nagata in Akita prefecture tells us about Swans’ Stay in Japan in her blog.
Please check it out, and you will know about it better..
On March 6, Patricia Lidia in Romania, kindly presented photo haiku about winter to us.
She also introduced to us Mrs. Hrisi Udrescu, a great photographer, who presented her photos to us.
Here are their photo haiku.
On March 7, KONO Minoru（幸野稔） in Akita prefecture contributed his haibun to us in his e-mail as follows.
Composed on the first of March KONO Minoru
早春詠 幸野 稔
At the main campus of Akita University, you can find a stone tablet on which is inscribed a haiku by Dr. YAMAGUCHI Kichiro, or Seison (山口吉郎) (俳号：青邨) (1892 – 1988), a renowned mining scientist and haiku poet. I dropped in at it on the first of March and found it coming out of a heap of snow.
Haiku tablet —
The inscription watered
By melting snow.
Then I happened to meet Dr. NIINO Naoyoshi (新野直吉) (1925 – ), a distinguished scholar in ancient Japanese history and former President of Akita University. I enjoyed a chat with him for a while and saw him off. I felt happy to find him as fine as ever.
Great old scholar
Walking steadily away
In the spring sun.
Later, I made a lunch suggestion to my wife and went out with her.
March opening —
Let’s dine out together,
My dear wife!
Everything was a happy start for spring.
Lastly, let me post haiku and photos by Saori Taniuchi and Takuya Matsuzawa, who studied about haiku and learned to write haiku at the class by Alexander Dolin, PhD, Professor of Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University（国際教養大学）.
Saori Taniuchi contributed the works of haiku and photos to us in November, 2011.
Takuya Matsuzawa also contributed his haiku to us in November, 2011.
ほろほろと 桜紅葉が 秋を呼ぶ
One after another…
The bloom of early cherry leaves
the silent call of autumn
秋蜻蛉 幼心を 思いだす
The autumn dragonfly
Memories of childhood days
echoing through its wings…
鳥兜 ほのかに放つ 毒の蒼
The blue of Aconite
Shining brightly, poisonously…
waiting for its prey
彷徨し 紅葉かつ散る 何思う
The leaves that stay, the leaves that fall
What are in their minds?
萩が散り 夜風が不意に 胸を刺す
The falling Lespedeza leaves
A sudden blow of nightfall wind
piercing through the heart
The next posting ‘Haiku by Ramesh Anand, Malaysia’ appears on March 17.
― Hidenori Hiruta
Kamakura Snow Festival（かまくら） is held in Yokete city, Akita prefecture（秋田県）, Northern Honshu, Japan on February 15th-16th every year.
It is a fantastic world appearing on a snow country evening, where children enjoy chatting in rooms made of snow.
Here are photos and haiku about Kamakura Snow Festival
Ugo no kuni Kamakura no hi no tomori keri
Kamakura, snow hut
has candles lighted on –
Akita – the land of poetry Hidenori
Kamkura no seiza no gokotki hikari kana
Kamakura, snow huts
a constellation Hidenori
amazake ni Kamakura no kami yoishireru
god of Kamakura
gets drunk –
amazake, sweet rice drink Hidenori
Manisha Kundu-Nagata in Akita prefecture tells us about Kamakura snow festival in her blog.
Please check it out, and you will know about Kamakura better..
Lastly, let me post haiku and photos by Janessa and Cecilie Guldbrandsen, who studied about haiku and learned to write haiku at the class by Alexander Dolin, PhD, Professor of Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University（国際教養大学）.
Janessa contributed the works of haiku and photos to us in November, 2011.
Cecilie Guldbrandsen also contributed the works of haiku and photos to us in November, 2011.
Written in the air
Breathing the hymn
Of lonely trees
Roasted in yellow sun
On bare ground
Surrounding patient trees
Naked trees shivering
Getting ready for
A new winter coat
The next posting ‘For New Year 2012 (9)’ appears on March 3.
― Hidenori Hiruta
Namahage-Sedo Festival （なまはげ柴灯まつり）takes place in Shinzan shrine （真山神社）in Oga city , Akita prefecture（秋田県）, Northern Honshu, Japan, the second Friday through the second Sunday of February every year.
This festival is carried out as a tourist event that combines the Shinto shrine Sedo festival and the Namahage folk festival.
Here is a photo of the Namahage-Sedo Festival.
Photo courtesy: as per original copyright at:
Shinzan ya Namahage oriru sedo matsuri
descend from Mount Shinzan ―
the Namahage-Sedo festival Hidenori
Namahage no hatsukoi no chi ya Oga hanto
falls in first love ―
the Oga Peninsula Hidenori
Here is another photo of the Namahage-Sedo Festival.
Photo courtesy: as per original copyright at:
Namahage no honoo no gotoki omoi kana
falls in love ―
like a flame Hidenori
Manisha Kundu-Nagata in Akita prefecture tells us about Namahage Festival in her blog.
Dr. Gabi Greve in Okayama prefecture also tells us about this festival in her blog.
Please check them out, and you will know about Namahage Festival better.
On February 15, Patricia Lidia in Romania contributed Haibun: Love to us.
It’s blizzard, but that does not spoil the joy of the young lovers. Her dress matches the snow freshly sprawled and on her shoulders she is wearing his coat. It’s cold, but the joy of the moment warms his soul and he makes him forget that they are walking on a bridge of ice. They look at each other like in the first day they have met, long and meaningful. Back then it was cold and it was snowing just as now, but that did not count, the alleys parks were their only witnesses.
walk in two-
the frozen snowdrop
in her warm hand
The snow does not change their plans. It is their special day, only they matter. Only them and the future.
stealthily glances –
in the priest’s crown
past and future
Today the entire nature celebrates with them. It snows with large flakes that become small ice crystals between her eyelids. With his fingers, he wipes the flakes from her face. “I am happy as I haven’t been in a long time”, he says, smiling, “and if it is a dream, well, I do not ever want to wake up to our common reality… “She put down in the snow the bouquet of camellias, and approached him, kissing him in silence.
frozen lake –
on the bridal bouquet
Lastly, let me post haiku and photos by Kyra Roybal and Scott Ruddell, who studied about haiku and learned to write haiku at the class by Alexander Dolin, PhD, Professor of Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University（国際教養大学）.
Kyra Roybal contributed the works of haiku and photos to us in November, 2011.
Scott Ruddell also contributed the works of haiku and photos to us in November, 2011.
Underneath the tree, the pure autumn colors paint the ground.
On a cloudy day, the leaves fall with the rain.
Past the open lake
The mountains cannot be seen
Hidden by thick fog
Last days of autumn
Waiting for the snow to come
To turn the trees white
As the days get cool
Cicadas no longer sing
Surely fall has come
The next posting ‘For New Year 2012 (8)’ appears on February 25.
― Hidenori Hiruta
Here is a photo of the Omono River（雄物川） in Akita prefecture （秋田県）, Northern Honshu, Japan.
The photo was taken at the riverbank at the end of January.
hyouketsu ni koi no madoromu kita no kawa
a sheet of ice
keeps carp in repose
northern rivers Hidenori
This haiku appears in the following blog on February 7.
Lastly, let me post haiku and photos by Michael Todd, Ruth Ashworth, and Gaby Meindl, who studied about haiku and learned to write haiku at the class by Alexander Dolin, PhD, Professor of Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University（国際教養大学）.
Michael Todd contributed the works of haiku and photos to us in November, 2011.
Ruth Ashworth also contributed the works of haiku to us in November, 2011.
Gaby Meindl also contributed the works of haiku to us in November, 2011.
Whoosh, crickle, crack, crunch
For this haiku, I wanted to incorporate a really challenging word, such an onomatopoeia, and then built the rest of the haiku around it. It’s about the sounds of crunching leaves during fall.
Basked in the sunlight
A lone daisy among weeds
Growing and growing
This haiku is about the spring when flowers begin to bloom. There are often big patches of grass with very few flowers, or very small flowers, but sometimes there is one strong, big flower among the weeds that always astounds me as to the speed it grew.
Wrenitt birds perch high
Their cheeps pierce the empty skies
All others flown south
Wrenitts are sedentary birds from the American pacific coast. They do not migrate south, but many birds do, so this is a haiku about their loneliness during winter.
Drunk off the sunlight
Trees blush in vivid pink hues
Sakura bloom free
The pink colors of sakura have been compared to a lot of things, so I wanted to try something I have never heard them compared to before, drunkenness. Many people have a tendency to get a reddish or pink hue to their skin while drinking, much like the pink of a sakura tree.
The next posting ‘For New Year 2012 (7)’ appears on February 18.
― Hidenori Hiruta
On January 15, 2012, Shinzan shrine naked pilgrimage festival （新山神社裸まいり : shinzan jinja hadaka mairi ） was held in Yurihonjo city （由利本荘市）of Akita prefecture（秋田県）, Northern Honshu, Japan.
Shinzan ya yukino sando rasha noboru
climb the snowy approach –
Shinzan shrine Hidenori
Manisha Kundu-Nagata says in her blog Life with hubby as follows.
The Hadaka Mairi (pilgrimage) Matsuri is a winter festival where naked men brave the cold and snow and proceed to a rather distant Shinzan shrine. The naked men carry offerings to the shrine by walking through the snow. There are different opinions and sayings regarding the origin of the Hadaka Mairi Matsuri. One of the stories is that shugensha monks protected the Shinzan shrine by walking naked as a form of ascetic training and practice. Shugendo is an ancient Japanese religion in which enlightenment or oneness with god is obtained through the study of the relationship between man and nature. It is centered on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling lifestyle and incorporates teachings from koshinto, buddhism, and other eastern philosophies including folk animism. Monks following shugendo religion are known as shugensha. The monks prayed for the toughness of body, the safety of homes, the happiness of the families, and bumper crops in the fields. Every year the monks went to the shrine to display in front of the god the results of their training, practice, and the growth of their mind and body.
You will get familiar with the festival through the following blog.
Lastly, let me post haiku and photos by Corinne Kinvig, Sabrina Ketcherside, and Charlotte Regnier, who studied about haiku and learned to write haiku at the class by Alexander Dolin, PhD, Professor of Japanese Literature and Civilization Studies at Akita International University（国際教養大学）.
Corinne Kinvig contributed the works of haiku and photos to us in November, 2011.
Sabrina Ketcherside also contributed the works of haiku to us in November, 2011.
Charlotte Regnier also contributed the works of haiku to us in November, 2011.
The next posting ‘For New Year 2012 (5)’ appears on February 4.
― Hidenori Hiruta