Let haiku be on the UNESCO list!


On August 2, 1689, Matsuo Basho visited Kisakata, Akita, where he composed his haiku.


Here is the English translation by Keene Donald (鬼怒鳴門).


Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.


Now in Kisakata, adonises and red camellias are in full bloom.




More than 300 years have passed since 松尾芭蕉 ( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) wrote奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ , a major work of haibun by the Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō .

Basho could not have dreamed of how far and wide in the world haiku is loved.


According to THE Haiku FOUNDATION, there are contests held in 2014, or 2015 as follows.


January :  Haiku Poets of Northern California – Rengay

                   The British Haiku Awards

                   Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015

                   The Haiku Canada Betty Drevniok Award

February:  The With Words Summer Competition: Haiku Section

                  Haiku Society of America Lionel Einbond Renku Competition

                 Sharpening of the Green Pencil Haiku Contest 2015

                 ITO EN Oi Ocha Haiku Contest

March:    The Snapshot Press eChapbook Awards

                The Vladimir Devide Haiku Award

                Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

               European Quarterly Spring Kukai

               Robert Spiess Memorial Haiku Award Competition

               The 17th Apokalipsa Haiku Contest

               Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition

               Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards

               Annual Hortensia Anderson Memorial Awards

               Romanian Haiku Contest 2014

April:      Kaji Aso Studio Annual Haiku Contest

                The UHTS “aha” (Annual Hortensia Anderson Memorial Awards)

                for haiku/senryu

May:      The New Zealand Poetry Society’s Annual International Poetry Competition

                Klostar Ivanić Haiku Contest, Croatia [for details: dvrozic (at)optinet (dot) hr]

                Annual Yuki Teikei Haiku Society Kiyoshi & Kiyoko Tokutomi Memorial

                 Haiku Contest

June:      The Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award

                Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

      European Quarterly Summer Kukai

    Pumpkin Festival Haiku Competition, Ivanić Grad, Croatia 2015

    The Third Japan-Russia Haiku Contest

                 Tanka Society of America International Tanka Contest

July:      The Snapshot Press Book Awards

               The Snapshot Press eChapbook Awards

               Haiku Society of America Haibun Awards

               Harold G. Henderson Awards for Haiku

               Gerald Brady Memorial Awards for Senyru

August:    The Francine Porad Award for Haiku 2015

               UHTS “Fleeting Words” Tanka Contest

               Penumbra Haiku Contest

September: Annual Mainichi Daily News Haiku Contest

               European Quarterly Autumn Kukai

              Janice M Bostok Haiku Prize

              Haiku International Association (HIA) Annual Haiku Competition

October:   Haiku Poets of Northern California – Haiku, Senryu, Tanka

              Polish International Haiku Competition

              Haiku Presence Award

November: The Heron’s Nest Illustration Contest

              The Snapshot Press Book Awards

              Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2014

December:  Annual Jerry Kilbridge Memorial English-Language Haibun Contest

             European Quarterly Winter Kukai

             Golden Triangle Haiku Contest

             Fujisan Haiku 2014 (Haiku on Mt. Fuji)

             Iris Little Haiku Contest 2015

             The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems

             The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Book Awards


On September 23, 2014, the Akita International Haiku Network published the yearly pamphlet “Akita-The Land of Poetry”,詩の国秋田-2014.9 vol.6in the hope that haiku should be added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Hidenori Hiruta, the Secretary General of the Akita International Haiku Network wrote the article “Let haiku be on the UNESCO list!”

Hiruta hopes that haiku will spread further worldwide if it is included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

In the article, Hiruta refers to the latest trend that senryu and tanka have been paid more attention to among haikuists or haiku lovers in the world.

Through the website of the Akita International Haiku Network, Hiruta has found that the fixed page “What are haiku, senryu and tanka?” has had more and more visitors recently, to 4,427 ones.

In addition, the article “What are haiku, senryu and tanka?” has appeared in the English version of “Senryu (川柳) Wikipedia, which you can see on the website below.


Hiruta sincerely hopes that senryu and tanka will become more familiar worldwide when haiku is added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.



Lastly, let me show you an e-mail sent to Hiruta from Djurdja Vukelic Rozic, Principal editor of haiku magazine IRIS, Croatia, who is a haiku friend of mine.
On June 28, 2014, Djurdja wrote to Hiruta, wishing for “Haiku in the UNESCO list!”


Thank you, dear Hidenori-san,

I entirely forgot to send a note and did not even recognize your e-mail address.

Always hurrying, so please accept my apology.


Thank you for everything you’ve done for Croatian authors,

many of them being my old and even some new brothers and sisters in haiku.

Thank God for haiku for it enriched my life in a way I could not dream of long time ago,

once when we all were young…


I sincerely hope haiku will soon be on the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,

for it connects people in the most wonderful way I can think of.


With best regards from sunny Croatia,






By 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)


On October 9 and 10, 2011, AIU Festival was held at Akita International University(国際教養大学)in Akita prefecture(秋田県), Northern Honshu, Japan.

The festival, whose theme is HOOP ~世界とハチあわせ!~, had 3 Philosophies : Academic(学問), Culture(文化), and Entertainment(楽しさ).


The AIU students enjoyed the festival in their own ways.

They were excited at a variety of meetings, HOOP ~世界とハチあわせ!in the festival.

Here are some photos of those meetings.








Some of the students from overseas started preparing for the AIU festival in July for the purpose of making the Haiga postcard charity sale.

They visited the Kanmanji Temple 蚶満寺)in Kisakata, where they found mimosa blossoms in full bloom, about which Basho wrote in his haiku in 1689, and they got very inspired to write haiku in Japanese and paint haiga pictures.


象潟や雨に西施がねぶの花           芭蕉

Kisakata ya  ame ni Seishi ga  nebu no hana



Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.     Basho


Translated by Donald Keene


Here is a photo of the mimosa blossoms.



They donated money to those who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Some Romanian haiku poets also donated their haiga or haiku to the AIU festival in order to show their condolences, prayers, or hopes through the exhibition to the Japanese people.

Mrs. Maria Tirenescu inRomania kindly sent her haiku through Ms. Patricia Lidia’s e-mail on August 30.


Let me post the former part of her hiaku.


Under the blossomed lime
tasting from the cup of tea –
alone in the night

(Honorable Mention Mainichi 2007)



お茶を一杯味わう ―



Child’s cradle
hanging from a branch of lime –
the scent of flowers

(Honorable Mention Mainichi 2009)


ライムの木の枝から下がっている ―



Two petals

falling together—

evening wind

(Honorable Mention Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2010)



一緒に散っている ―



Rainy day –
in the spider’s cobweb
only a petal


雨の日 ―




Sunrise —
the dandelions flowering
among the ruins


日の出 ―




The old cemetery –
amidst ruined crosses
growing violas


古い共同墓地 ―




Snow on the mountains –
the white lilac blooming
in the valley


山には雪 ―




I sip the lime tea
listening for the crickets –



コオロギの鳴き声の方へ耳を澄ましながら ―



a butterfly
hovers about the tea cup –
serene day
(menţiune la concursul de haiku pe tema ceaiului organizat în parteneriat cu Cajin – Casa japoneză de ceai verde din Paris)


茶碗のまわりで飛び回っている ―


evening wind –
like a small golden coin
a lime leaf

夕方の風 ―



Autumn dusk –
the full moon watching
in the maple

“Poems for Mother Earth” din 14 octombrie 2007 la International Village Center din Kita-premia Mother Earth, Seinan Jo Gakuin University. (Asahi Shimbun)


秋の黄昏 ―




Translated into Japanese by Hidenori Hiruta

The next posting ‘Haiku from Romanian poets for AIU Festival 2011 (6)’ appears on December 24.


Hidenori Hiruta




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 .

You can read what Basho wrote in his diary in the two articles of this website:




On July 23, 2011, we visited the Kanmanji Temple (蚶満寺)in Kisakata, where  we found Basho’s statue in the temple garden.

Here is a photo of the statue.





nebu no ki ya  Basho no zou ni  hana sonau


mimosa tree

dedicates blossoms

Basho’s statue


As you know from the article above, 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.

When we visited there on July 23, we found the Roku Jizō 六地蔵 (lit. = Six Jizō)
Six Jizō and Six States of Existence built by the road to the temple.

The statues are said to have been built and dedicated to the souls of the victims of the Kisakata earthquake 100 years after.

Here is a photo taken at the Kanmanji Temple (蚶満寺)in Kisakata.




Jizō vowed to assist beings in each of the Six Realms of Desire and Karmic Rebirth, in particular those in the hell realm, and is thus often shown in groupings of six.


Today, on August 20, I post the third part of RO KU Magazine – Japan, between suffering and hope dedicated to the disaster from Fukushima.

Courtesy of Mr. Corneliu Traian Atanasiu, editor of ROMANIAN KUKAI, here is a pdf file of the magazine.








şcoală-n ruină –

cursul despre tsunami

în aer liber


school in ruins –

tsunami lesson



破壊された学校 ―




după cutremur –

acelaşi munte Fuji

în inima mea


after the earthquake –

the same mount Fuji

in my heart


地震の後 ―




furia mării

întrerupând destine –

Fuji neclintit


the fury of the sea

breaking destinies –

still Fuji



運命をばらばらに ―



străinii pleacă –

abia acum aş merge

la Fuji-yama


the foreigners leave –

only now I’d like to go

to Fuji-yama


外国人が去る ―




salvatorii –

atât de greu de găsit

fiecare cuvânt


rescue team –

this spring so hard to find

every single word


救助隊 ―




Fukushima –

pentru toți dispăruții

câte un haiku



for every missing man

a haiku


福島 ―




singurătate –

alături de Cei Cinzeci

întreaga lume


loneliness –

the whole world by the side

of The Fifty Men


孤独 ―









printre ruine –

nestingherit cireşul



among ruins –

the cherry tree buds

without obstacles


廃墟の中 ―




după potop –

în bărcile de hârtie

flori de cireș


after the flood –

in the paper boats

sakura blossom


洪水の後 ―




suflete în mâl –

noi rădăcini înalţă

lujeri de lotus


souls in mud –

the new born roots arising

lotus shoots


泥の中の魂 ―




după cutremur –

dînd colţ printre rădăcini

un coif de samurai


after earthquake –

springing among roots

a samurai helm


地震の後 ―




în fostul oraş

un copac cu o creangă –

primul ou în cuib


in the vanished town

a tree with a branch –

first egg in the nest



枝一本の木が一本 ―



soare răsare –

un strigăt de nou-născut

printre ruine


sun rising –

a newborn’s cry

among the ruins


太陽が昇る ―




cutremur în zori –

printre ruine

o păpădie


earthquake at dawn –

among the ruins

a dandelion


夜明けの地震 ―




mână întinsă

din noapte spre lumină –

muguri de cireş


out-stretched hand

from dusk to dawn –

cherry buds


いっぱいに広げられた手 ―

夕暮れから夜明けへ ―



sake şi sakura

printre lacrimi şi ruine –

un nou început


sake and sakura

through tears and ruins –

a new beginning



涙と廃墟を通って ―



în zorii zilei –

deasupra ruinelor

cei dintâi cocori


at dawn –

over the ruins

the first cranes


夜明け ―




printre ruine

mireasma unui cireş

abia înflorit


among ruins

the scent of a cherry tree

just bloomed






Lastly , let me post my haiku and photo I took at the backyard of the Kanmanji Temple (蚶満寺)in Kisakata 





Kanmanji  basho no hana no  sakini keri


Kanmanji Temple

Basho’s flower

in full bloom


The next posting ‘3.11 Haiku from the Romanian Haiku Group (4)’ appears on August 27.


Hidenori Hiruta (member of HIA)






In the first posting, I took up Basho’s haiku from his travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi .

In his diary, Basho seems to have left Hope for us Japanese.

Here is another translation by Donald Keene (ドナルド・キーン).




natsukusa ya           The summer grasses –

tsuwamono domo ga     Of brave soldiers’ dreams

yume no ato             The aftermath.               


Here is a photo of the tablet of Basho’s haiku.




Basho also wrote haiku about the Chusonji Temple (中尊寺) in Hiraizumi (平泉), Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) in his diary :






Donald Keene translated this passage and haiku into English as follows:


  The two halls of the Chuson Temple, whose wonders I had heard of and marvelled at, were both open. The Sutra Hall contains statues of the three generals of Hiraizumi; the Golden Hall has their coffins and an enshrined Buddhist trinity. The “seven precious things” were scattered and lost, the gem-inlaid doors broken by the wind, and the pillars fretted with gold flaked by the frost and snow. The temple would surely have crumbled and turned into an empty expanse of grass had it not been recently strengthened on all sides and the roof tiled to withstand the wind and rain. A monument of a thousand years has been preserved a while longer.


samidare no          Have the rains of spring

furinokoshite ya      Spared you from their onslaught,

hikari-do             Shining hall of Gold?                    


Here is a photo of the Golden Hall in the Chusonji Temple.




 Donald Keene, who is well-known as a translator of 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi 』, is said to have often visited the Tohoku region while translating Basho’s diary into English and to love the Chusonji Temple in particular.     

 After the earthquake on March 11, Donald Keene decided to take Japanese citizenship and establish permanent residence in Japan.  This is one of the most encouraging and pleasing news to us Japanese.      Donald Keene, who is renowned expert in Japanese literature and culture and a professor emeritus at Columbia University, seems to be a symbol of Hope

 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).         




Donald Keene said in an interview with Michinobu Yanagisawa, Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent in New York, USA: 

 I want to be with the Japanese people. This is because the Great Japan Earthquake inspired the decision. Japan will surely resurrect itself from the disaster to become an even more splendid country than before, I believe. So I’ll be moving to Japan in a positive frame of mind.  

Michinobu Yanagisawa also reported in the article as follows:  

Born in New York in 1922, Keene attended Columbia University, where he became  fascinated with Japanese culture after reading an English translation of “The Tale of Genji (源氏物語).”   He later served as an interpreter during the Battle of Okinawa in the closing daysof the Pacific War.   Keene has traveled through the Tohoku region many times, including some research trips for “The Narrow Road to Oku,” his English translation of the classic workof literature “Oku no Hosomichi,” by haiku master Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).   While studying in Japan, “I was surrounded by many people who warmly extended a helping hand to me,” Keene said. By obtaining Japanese citizenship, “I’d like to convey my sense of gratitude to the Japanese people, which I’ve so far been unable to do,” he said.                  Referring to reactions in the United States to the earthquake, tsunami and aftermath, including the nuclear crisis, Keene said, “Not a few people in the United States have been moved to learn Japanese people are doing their utmost to rebuild.” Even Americans who had no particular interest in Japan before March 11 have been impressed by Japanese people’s composure in the wake of the disaster, he said. “Americans have never felt such a strong affinity with Japan before,” Keene pointed out.  “I’ve made up my mind to become a Japanese citizen to be together with the Japanese people. I believe although words are important, of course, action is even more important,” Keene said.    “My decision to become a Japanese citizen is the manifestation of my expectations and convictions,” he said, explaining that he had a positive outlook for Japan. “When I returned to Tokyo eight years after World War II, Japan had revived to become a far different country from what I’d seen just after the war’s end. I’m convinced Japan will become an even more wonderful nation by weathering the hardships of this disaster,” he said.

Keene recalled a tour of the Tohoku region in 1955 to research “Oku no Hosomichi.” The view of a cluster of islets from the second floor of an inn in Matsushima (松島) [in Miyagi Prefecture(宮城県)] was unforgettably beautiful,” he said.   “I think there may be no structure in the world as beautiful as the Chusonji Temple [in Iwate Prefecture(岩手県)], so I wonder why UNESCO has repeatedly failed to designate the temple as a World Heritage site,” Keene said.     “I think how terrible it is that the Tohoku region, full of such beautiful places and temples, has been hit so hard by the earthquake and tsunami,” he lamented.

  Here is a photo of the pond of Oizumi, the Motsuuji Temple in Hiraizumi.  (平泉・毛越寺 「大泉が池」)

Looking back on his interaction with Japanese poets and writers, Keene referenced the poet and author Jun Takami(高見順). Near the end of the Pacific War, Takami wrote in his diary of being deeply moved by the sight of people waiting patiently at Tokyo’s Ueno Station, trying to get to the safety of the countryside.   “I want to live together with these people and share death with them, as I love Japan and believe in Japan,” Keene said, quoting Takami.

 “I now feel better able to understand Mr. Takami’s feelings,” he said.  Keene said his lawyer has already begun procedures for obtaining Japanese nationality.   He stressed that living in Japan would bring the most meaning to the rest of his life. He plans to spend time writing biographies of Hiraga Gennai (平賀源内) (1728-1780), a scholar of Western studies in the Edo period (1603-1868), and Takuboku Ishikawa (石川啄木)(1886-1912), a poet in the Meiji era (1868-1912).  In the 1950s, Keene studied at the postgraduate school of Kyoto University.     He forged friendships with such literary giants as Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫), Junichiro Tanizaki (谷崎潤一郎)and Kobe Abe (安部公房).

 In 2008, Keene was given the Order of Culture by the Japanese government in recognition of his contributions to promoting Japanese literature and culture in Europe and theUnited States. 

  (Apr. 24, 2011)

Last of all, let me post my haiku.                                  


平泉青葉しげれる光堂     秀法    

 Hiraizumi  aoba shigereru  hikarido

Hiraizumi –                                                                                                                                                                                                        green leaves thrive  

Shining hall of Gold           Hidenori


The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (3)’ appears on May 14.

 ― Hidenori Hiruta


On March 11, 2011, we had the most powerful earthquake since records began, which struck the Pacific coast of Northeastern Honshu, Japan, triggering a massive tsunami.

 Since then I have received e-mails and messages from haiku friends worldwide, in which they have sent their condolences and prayers through haiku, haiga, tanka, short poems, or pictures.

Some of my haiku friends took up the earthquake in their blogs or journals, and others started the movements to uplift their brothers and sisters in Japan on the Internet.

 Thanks to my haiku friends, I have been greatly encouraged and uplifted without losing hope.

I have clearly realized how my friends’ contributions are helpful in feeling encouraged, and consoled, and giving relief.

They eventually lead us to hope.

 In addition, to my great surprise, I find Basho’s haiku very encouraging and consoling too.

So, let me take up Basho’s haiku in the first posting.

This is because his haiku makes me imagine what might become of devastation in 500 years.

Here is a photo of the monument of Basho’s haiku.




June 29, 1689

Basho arrived in Hiraizumi(平泉), Iwate Prefecture(岩手県), where he wrote the following haiku.


夏草やつはものどもが夢のあと         芭蕉

Natsukusa ya  tsuwamonodomo ga  yume no ato


Ah!  Summer grasses!

All that remains

Of the warriors’ dreams.                  Basho





R. H. Blyth translated Basho’s haiku into English in HAIKU VOLUME 3  SUMMER – AUTUMN published in1951 and gave his commentary as follows:


 In Tennyson’s lines,


Nothing in nature’s aspect indicated

That a great man was dead,


man and Nature are taken as two separate things. Basho takes them, quite unconsciously and instinctively, as one and the same thing. The above verse comes at the end of the following passage in Oku no Hosomichi: 




                “The state ruined, mountains and rivers remain.

               In the citadel it is spring : grass is green.”  I laid

               my kasa down and shed tears, forgetting the passage

               of time.


Basho was at this time, 1689, in Takadachi where Yoshitsune was attacked by Yasuhira under the orders of Yoritomo. He fought bravely but was outnumbered, and committed suicide after killing his own wife and children, exactly 500 years before. He was thirty-one years old.

Basho’s verse expresses the same grief as Toho’s for things of long ago, but does not leave us in this state of passivity and dejection. The summer grasses remind him of


That secret spirit of humanity

Which, mid the calm oblivious tendencies

Of nature, mid her plants, and weeds, and flowers,

And silent overgrowings, still survived.


Basho’s short verse contains the whole of Sohrab and Rustum, but especially the last twenty lines, beginning,


But the majestic River floated on,

Out of the mist and hum of that low land.


  The second half of a gatha by Seccho in the Hekiganroku, Case 61, is similar in spirit:





Scheming ministers and fierce generals, where are they now?

    The cool breeze of a thousand leagues alone knows.


Here is a photo of the Kitakami River(北上川) and summer grasses taken at Takatachi (高館), Hiraizumi(平泉), by Hiroya Sato(佐藤弘弥) on July 4, 2004.

This is present-day Hiraizumi, 315 years after Basho visited there.




Lastly, let me post my haiku.


曙に春の産声聞こえけり          秀法

Akebono ni  haru no ubugoe  kikoe keri


at daybreak –

spring cries rise 

in the birth room                    Hidenori



Here is a Japanese translation of R. H. Blyth’s commentary on Basho’s haiku mentioned above. Please read it as you like.




R・H・ブライスは『俳句 大三巻 夏― 秋』を1951年に発刊。
















芭蕉の短詩(俳句)は『ソーラブとラスタム』 の全てを含んでいるが、特に次の2行で始まる最後の20行を含んでいる。











The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (2) appears on May 7.


― Hidenori Hiruta




On June 1, 2010, we received an e-mail from Richard Stevenson in Canada,  whose subject is Haikai Submission to Akita International Haiku Network site.

He says in his e-mail:

Greetings from Southern Alberta!

Thought I’d send along a few things.  ( A bio note is included at the end):

 Bio Note

Richard Stevenson lives in southern Alberta, Canada, and teaches English and Creative Writing at Lethbridge College.  The most recent of his 24 published books are Wiser Pills (Frontenac House, 2008), Tidings of Magpies (Spotted Cow Press, 2008), and The Emerald Hour (Ekstasis Editions, 2008) and a first collection of tanka and kyoka, Windfall Apples (Athabasca University Press, 2010).

 I have been interested in The Emerald Hour among his published books.


  Part of Its introduction is as follows:

In The Emerald Hour, poet Richard Stevenson returns to the Japanese forms of haiku and tanka, seemingly the simplest yet most precise of poetic forms. This is his third book of Japanese forms published by Ekstasis Editions. In the first of the series, Hot Flashes, explored Stevenson’s experience of living and teaching in Africa, using haiku to capture the essence of that colourful world. In A Charm of Finches the poet returned home to Alberta, a land more familiar but no less exotic when viewed through the lens of haiku. Now in The Emerald Hour Richard Stevenson focuses clearly on nature, the traditional subject of Japanese forms. From settings such as idyllic Henderson Lake, shown in evocative photographs by Ellen McArthur, to interior British Columbia and hometown of Lethbridge, Stevenson, offers monuments to moments, even Basho would enjoy.


young robin chortles —
the kitten’s gray flanks ripple
in waves in response

幼いコマドリがクスクス笑う ―





dog days of summer —

do I water the plants

or write a haiku?

夏の土用 ―





harvest moon —

my wife’s keister competes

between the sheets

中秋の名月 ―





Got a metal Christ

on a sculpted cross

in the new restaurant.

Gotta fire pole

centre stage!






 roadie puts a

tambourine on the

skeletal sculpture

of Christ on a cross

in a fire hall restaurant!








most blossoms bolted —

the day lilies’ megaphones

announce themselves

たいていの花が早咲きの花を咲かせた ―





apples red-cheeked —

a cabbage white rummages

among the leaves

赤色のほおをしたリンゴ ―





firepole centre stage —

what was once a fire hall

is now a restaurant!

火柱の中央の舞台 ―



On June 22, I received another e-mail from Richard Stevenson as follows:

Dear Hidenori,

It would be an honour to appear on your web site in Japanese translation.  Thank you so much!  Of course I’m happy with your suggestions.  Indeed, if you’re interested, I might even be able to get my photographer friend, who did the beautiful black and white photos for The Emerald Hour, to send along some photos of our lovely Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens — a gift of the Japanese to the citizens of my fair city of Lethbridge ( See http://www.nikkayuko.com/ ).

You might want to go online and have a look at the place.  It’s one of the most beautiful sites in the city, a place I like to go often in the summer months when I’m not teaching.  I’ll be launching my new book, a collection of Tanka and Kyoka, Autumn Windfalls (Athabasca University Press, 2010) there in a few weeks. 🙂

Thanks for all your support. 🙂


Here I would like to refer to the Nika Yuko Japanese Garden a little and present some photos of the garden to you.

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden offers you an unforgettable experience, combining the beauty of nature in a serene setting. From the first spring blossom to the final autumn leaf, the Garden is an oasis of tranquility. Step through the entrance gate, leave the bustle of everyday city life behind, and refresh your senses. A host or hostess in traditional Japanese clothing will greet you and highlight the Garden’s many features, or give you a guided tour.

Established during Canada’s Centennial in 1967, Nikka Yuko was built to recognize contributions made by citizens of Japanese ancestry to the multi-cultural community of Lethbridge, Alberta, and as a symbol of international friendship. Its name was created from the Japanese words Ni (from Nihon meaning Japan), ka from Kanada or Canada, and Yuko, which translates as “friendship” to mean “Japan-Canada friendship”.

Last of all, I show you some Japanese translations of parts of the introduction of  The Emerald Hour.

  『エメラルドの時間』 の紹介の一部の和訳は次の通りです。  

The Emerald Hour(エメラルドの時間)』 の中で, 詩人リチャード・スティブンソンは俳句と短歌の日本の詩型に帰っている、見た目では、詩型の中で最も単純ではあるが、最も明確なものである。 これは、エクシスタス版で出版された日本の詩型の第3番目の本である。そのシリーズの最初では『Hot Flashes,(暑いきらめき』は、アフリカでスティブンソンが生活し、教えた体験をくまなく調べ、その色彩に富んだ世界の本質をとらえるために俳句を使用した。 『A Charm of Finches (フィンチの魅力)』では、詩人は故郷のアルバータに戻ってきたが、俳句のレンズを通して眺めるともっと親しみを持てて以前に劣らず魅惑的な所となっている。この度、『The Emerald Hour(エメラルドの時間)』 の中でリチャード・スティブンソンは明らかなことに日本の詩型の伝統的な主題である自然に焦点を当てている。エレン・マッカーサーによる自然の牧歌性を呼び起こさせられるような写真に示されているが、田園詩的なヘンダーソン湖のような背景から、ブリティッシュ・コロンビアの内地や故郷であるレスブリッジにいたるまで、芭蕉でさえ楽しむだろうと思われるように、素晴らしい様々な感動の瞬間に記念碑をささげている。

日加友好庭園(The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden)について 

― その一部の和訳 ― 

日加友好庭園(The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden)はあなたがたに忘れがたい経験を提供し、落ち着いた背景の中で自然の美を組み合わせています。 最初の春の花に始まり、最終の秋の紅葉にいたるまで、庭園は静寂のオアシスである。


1967年カナダの百周年祭の期間に日加友好が確立され、庭園は日本人を先祖とする市民たちによるアルバータのレスブリッジの多文化共同体社会への貢献を認識するために、そして国際友好の象徴として造園されました。 庭園の名前は(Japan を意味する日本から取った)日本語の‘日(Ni’とKanada or Canada から取った加 (ka) を合わせて命名されました、そして Yukoは日本とカナダの友好という意味の”friendship”(友好)として翻訳されます。  

I sincerely hope that you will visit the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, and that you will write haiku or tanka there.

I also hope that you will enjoy reading the works of poetry by Richard Stevenson. 

The next posting ‘Haiku by Vishnu P Kapoor in India’ appears on July 3.

― Hidenori  Hiruta