On June 7, the Akita International Haiku Network finally published the journal of the 6th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest, whose editor is Ben Grafström, Lecturer at Center for Promotion of Educational Research and Affairs, Akita University.






Here is part of Journal of the Akita International Haiku Network Serow.




















Here is a link to share online or by e-mail:


If you want to have “Serow Vol.1 Spring 2018” (Booklet print edition). pdf, please send your e-mail to

shhiruta@nifty.com/, and “booklet” will be printed and folded into a book, which looks really cool.

Please feel free to share the pdf version with ANYBODY, EVERYWHERE! 

By Hidenori Hiruta




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


Full moon in summer—

ripples in the lake reach the shore

kissing our toes






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



Here is a brief bio of Ben Grafström.






Ben Grafström

Akita University

Lecturer 講師


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



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




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


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


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




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




Ben Grafström


Center for Promotion of Educational Research and Affairs

Akita University


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

018-889-2463 (office phone & fax)


講師 グラフストロム・ベン



010-0852 秋田県秋田市


tel・fax: 018-889-2463


卯の花や箸の浮きたる洗桶  小川 軽舟












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



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


                                                                                                                                                                                    By Hidenori Hiruta



The Results of 5th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest 2016


The Akita International Haiku Network is willing to announce the results of the 5th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest in 2016.

Here are prize-winning haiku and haiku of HONORABLE MENTIONS in the contest.


日本語部門 (Japanese Section)(332句)


332 haiku were submitted from 5 countries: Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Taiwan, and USA.


お題 「山、海、湖、川、ただし、雑詠も可」 (The theme : “mountain, sea, lake, river, or anything ”) 


選者 (Judges) 






被爆者を抱き寄せており風薫る    染川 清美(大阪府八尾市)


Hugging a survivor

of the atomic bombing 

cool light breeze in early summer






蒼天の利尻の富士や夏兆す      穂苅 稔(長野県)


Mount Rishirifuji

in the blue sky

showing signs in summer





ボルシチの器の底のクリスマス    猪山 舞勇(埼玉県立所沢高等学校)



at the bottom of the bowl

of borsch



入選 (Honorable Mentions)


海難の碑誌は露国語水仙花      土谷 敏雄(秋田県)


The epitaph of the marine accident

written in Russian

daffodils in bloom



鰤釣つて大海原を裏返す       和田 仁(秋田県)


Yellowtail fished

as if it turned over

a vast expanse of sea



うらおもて無きふるさとの青谺    森田 千技子(秋田県)


Green tree spirit

in my hometown –

the same on both sides



水面切る石の速さや脂照       山野 拓郎(東京都)


How fast a stone goes

bouncing off the water surface –

sweltering weather



春の海だけにヒミツをうちあける   半田 信和(福井県)


Only to the spring sea  I confide my secret



男四人星と語らう夏の山        沖崎 匠(長野県松本県ケ丘高等学校)


The mountain in summer –

four men enjoy talking

with stars



うつぶせの身に鳴り響く夏の音  菊地 瑛貴(ノースアジア大学 明桜高等学校)


Sound of summer

resounding around the body

of lying on my face



キリル文字覚え切れない青田風      丸山 泰平(埼玉県立所沢高等学校)


Cyrillic alphabet

difficult to remember –

wind in the green paddy field



シベリアのすずらん揺れる祖父の夢   中澤 真理恵(埼玉県立所沢高等学校)


Lilies of the valley

wave in Siberia –

my grandfather’s dream



末っ子のマトリョーシカに小鳥来る  樺沢 実咲(埼玉県立所沢高等学校)


To the youngest matryoshka comes a bird


(Translated by Hidenori Hiruta)


Russian Section(670句)


670 haiku were sent for the Russian haiku section.

670 haiku were submitted from 18 countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus,

Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova,

Poland, Russia, UK, Ukraine, USA and Uzbekistan.


Judge: Alexander Dolin 


ロシア語部門 (Russian Section)(670句)






秋田市長賞(Akita City Mayor’s Award)


Пряный запах тайги…                         

И блуждает светляк одинокий        

в тумане полночном.   


The fragrance of taiga woods…

A lonely firefly wandering

In the midnight fog.


Екатерина Андреева (Russia)




 (Akita Chamber Of Commerce And Industry President’s Award)



Скрывшиеся за облаками –       

Всё те же горы.                  



Hidden by the clouds –

Still the same mountains.


Анна Железнякова (Russia)



入選 (Honorable Mentions)


Горизонт размыт.                                         

Сквозь осеннюю морось                            

Алеет парус.                                                     


Horizon is blurred.

Through the autumn rain

A red sail in the distance.


Татьяна  Рушинская  (Russia)



Жарко на пруду.                            

Лягушки загорают                          

на листьях лилий.                            


The summer heat –

Frogs in the pond are taking sunbath

On the lily leaves.


Светлана Перцович (Russia)



Поглажу камень.                         

Не холодно, Хатико?                  

Все веришь, все ждешь?          


I stroke the stone.

Aren:t you cold, Hachiko?

Are you still waiting’


Павел  Калинин  (Russia)



Белые мухи                                                    

Кружатся над озером.                              

Зимы начало.                                                  


White flies

Swarming over the lake.

The beginning of winter.


Виктория Пилипчук (Russia)



С облаком вровень                                        

Плыву над вершинами.                               

Горы в тумане.                                            


With a cloud

I float over the peaks.

Mountains  covered by fog.


Елена Клепикова (Kazakhstan)



Штиль на озере                           

Только облака в небе                  

Продолжают бег                           


The lake is still

Only the clouds in the sky

Keep on drifting


Ирина Рашева-Кузьмина (Russia)




Солнце над морем.                    

Волны бьются о скалы.               

Холст всё ещё пуст.                     


The sun over the sea.

Waves are crashing against the rocks.

The canvass is still intact.


Леонид Светик (Belarus)



Утренний туман.                          

Удар весла о воду                            

В вязкой тишине.                         


The morning mist.

An oar taps the water 

In the sticky silence.


Александр Галкин (Russia)



двух кузнечиков                           

неспешный разговор                    

глушит шум ручья                          


A lazy dialogue

of two grasshoppers

jammed by the murmur of the brook


Eugenia Yegorova (Ukraine)



Блики света                                            

Плоды оливы на мостовой                



The sun bleaks

Olives falling on the road



Владимир Кунцман (Israel)



В город влетает                             

С залива ветер морской             

С запахом рыбы.                          


From the bay it blows

The sea breeze in the town

Bringing the smell of fish


Светлана Стругацкая (Russia)



Лодка у реки.                            

Скорбят старые весла.              

Ушел хозяин.                             


A boat on the river bank.

The old oars are so sad –

Their master has left…


Олег Веретенников  (Russia)



жёлтые листья .                                           

облака над вершинами,                          

плывут и дрожат.                                         


Yellow leaves.

clouds over the peaks

float trembling.


Евгений Кульба (Russia)



Темно и холодно.                                                   

Голые ветки в окно скребутся.                            

Осенний вечер                                                          


It is dark and cold.

Naked branches scratch the window.

An evening in autumn. 


Наиля Сулейманова (Russia)



Речной туман                                                        

другого берега не видно                                    

А, может, его нет.                                      


The river fog.

The other bank stays invisible.

Maybe there is no other bank.


Ольга Арматынская (Russia)



Ночью на реке                                    

Затронул веслом воду                    

И сдвинул луну                                


On the river at night

tapping the water with an oar

I disturbed the moon


Антон Рундквист (Russia)



Лишь голос птицы                             

И дыханье пса –                            

Крутая тропка                                        


Just the voice of a bird

and the dog’s hard breathing –

a steep track


Инна Хмель (Russia) 



Близится вечер.                                               

Как подвенечный наряд                  

Туман над рекой.                                      


Evening is coming.

The white fog over the river

 Like a bridal dress.


Ирина Трофимова (Russia)



Руку протянул                                   

К солнцу в зеркале воды,              

Волна накрыла.                                 


The hand stretched

To the sun in the mirror of water

Is caught by the wave. 


Анастасия Чехонадских (Russia)



Море спокойно.                     

Тихо танцуют                        

Рыбы в солёной воде.       


The sea is still.

So quietly they dance –

Fish in the salty water.


Анастасия Губанова (Russia)








В глазах её, раскинулось

Синее море…       

Девочка на берегу. 


The blue sea

Gleaming in her eyes –

A girl on the beach.


Алина Степаненко(Russia)



入選 (Honorable Mentions)



Холодная земля.            

Осторожно спускается с гор 

Осенний туман. 


Cold ground.

Cautiously comes down from the mountains

This autumn fog.


Виктория  Бродерзон  (Russia)



Весенние ручьи         

Омыли склоны гор

Безбрежно море  


The spring brooks

Wash the slopes of the mountains

The sea is boundless


Олеся Чистякова(Ukraine)



Горные вершины   

В белых снежных шалях   

Смотрят в небеса.   


Mountain peaks

In their white shawls 

Look up at the sky.


Валерия Жидкова (Russia)



Горное озеро 

Неба слезой застыло  

Среди вершин    


A mountain lake

Stays like a tear of heaven

Among the peaks


Валерия Софронова  (Russia)



Зелёные листья.          

А в один прекрасный день –  

Запах цветов. 


Green leaves.

And one day suddenly –

The fragrance of flowers.


Роман Киркоров  (Russia)



Смотрю в окно –        

Ласточка строит гнездо.   



I watch how outside the window  

A swallow is building its nest.

It’s spring!


Савва Елин  (Russia)



Раннее солнце  

Осветило снежный туман  

На вершине горы.   


The early sun

Shining through the snow fog

On the mountain top.


Даниил  Стаматов  (Russia) 



Лодка в воде,    

Как размытое облако –    

Плывет в горизонт.    


A boat on the water

Like a blurred cloud

Drifting to the horizon.


Дарья Телеш  (Russia)



Пожелтелый лист на воде.    

В глади зеркальной рачки эпишура резвятся – 

Благодатный Байкал.  


A yellow leaf in the water.

Tiny lake crabs swarming around

In the lofty Baikal.


Светлана  Гичко  (Russia)



Горное озеро, 

Как девичья шея охвачено

Ожерельем талого снега.


A mountain lake,

Like a  girl’s neck encircled

With a necklace of melting snow.


Валерия Овсянникова (Russia)



Ракушки в море.  

Жаль, что не видят пейзаж! 

Садится солнце.   


Shells in the sea –

It’s a pity they don’t see the landscape.

The sun is setting.    


Елизавета Безушко (Ukraine)



Тихий шум волны.   

Две одиноких скалы 

встречают рассвет…    


A quiet sound of waves.

Two lonely rocks

Are meeting dawn…


Владислава Симонова (Ukraine)



Река спокойна,   

Щепка плывет не спеша 

В шумное море.              


The river is quiet. 

A sliver floats slowly

Towards the stormy sea.


Глеб  Трухин  (Russia)



Играет  волна  

у моих ног, как щенок…   

Река  Самарка!  


A wave is playing

At my feet like a puppy…

Samarka river!


Софья Алаторцева (Russia)



Копьём вонзает   

Ветер потускневший лист. 

Круги на воде. 


Driven by the wind

A faded leaf hits like a spearhead.

Circles on the water.


Елизавета  Артамонова (Russia)



Взгляд в чашку чая:   

Пенятся волны в заре,       

Веет морской бриз. 


Looking inside a tea cup:

Ripples running at dawn,

The sea breeze blows.


Виктория Титова (Russia)



Под снегом гора

Видит десятый сон свой

Белая кошка  


A mountain under snow

A white cat watching

Its long-long dream…


Анастасия Вергунова (Russia)



Ночная прохлада   

Спустившись с горы 

Ушла на заре 


The night coolness

That has come down from the hill

left my home at dawn


Полина Новикова (Russia)



Камень голыш спит

Убаюканный морем  

Ему снятся скалы  


A pebble sleeps

Lulled by the sea

Seeing rocks in a dream


Екатерина Дементьева (Ukraine)




Черное озеро

Забыло тени своего леса-

Грустит болотце.


Karakul –

The Black Lake

Forgot the shadows of the wood*

A sad swamp/


*The woods around Karakul lake were cut in the XX c.


Лия Мурашкинцева (Russia)



Белым золотом 

Окружили нас ели —  

невесты зимы.


We are all in white gold –

Surrounded by the fur trees,

The winter brides.


Яков Марков (Russia)


(Translated by Alexander Dolin)




英語部門 (English Section)(382句)


Judges: David McMurray , Satoru Kanematsu, Ben Grafstrom, and Hidenori Hiruta 






Haiku contest judges Hidenori Hiruta, Satoru Kanematsu, Ben Grafstrom, and David McMurray separately reviewed a splendid and diverse assortment of 382 haiku submissions from haikuists in these 51 countries: Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Croatia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, UK, USA, and Vietnam.


At first stymied by their eclectic tastes in poetry, after careful consideration two haiku were finally evaluated as the winners of these coveted awards.


The Akita International University President’s Award was selected because readers are sure to enjoy the poetics employed by the gifted writer. Admirers of this winning poem are encouraged to read it aloud and to listen for the rustling sounds of the dry leaves that resonate in the words homelessness and leaves of the onomatopoeia poem.


The Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry President’s Award winner was clearly able to bridge the distances of the heart and the need for migrants to work.


In addition 20 haiku are honorably mentioned by the judging committee because they superbly represent the diversity and the creativity of the international contestants. All haikuists are congratulated for their efforts to share stories and sketches from a variety of homelands. The judging committee of the haiku composed in English for the 5th Japan Russian Haiku Contest recommends the following entries penned by top haikuists.





after the storm

the homelessness

of fallen leaves







water at my feet

stretches to a distant shore

seeking my homeland


Andrea Newell (USA)





monsoon drizzle

the umbrella pulls

the bicyclist


Ramesh Anand (India)



after the tsunami

the ‘Great Wave off Kanagawa’

upside down


Angelee Deodhar  (India)



Wetlands canoeing―

Heron leaves his hiding place

With a piercing cry


Priscilla Lignori (USA)



Flying two hours

still over summer desert

borders unknown


Kiyoshi  Fukuzawa  (Japan)



A cockatoo calls

The scent of frangipani

Infuses the air


David Nunn (UK)



total solar eclipse

hindu priests hurry to exit

the dimmed temple





noodle shop lantern

joining the conversation

summer moths





morning training

on the path by the river

racing with his shadow


Marija  Pogorilic  (Croatia)



the road to the shrine

a concrete jigsaw puzzle

of devastation


Barbara Ann Taylor (Australia)



a ruined brick wall –

what would the April grass know

more than its shadow?


Liliana Negoi (Romania)



rice planting

in the muddy water

children grow


Ian Willey (USA)



a child runs

to be run after–

shooting star


JIRO OBA (Japan)



mountain lake–

the minnow bucket

fills with stars


Kevin Valentine  (USA)



ancient lake-

across the smooth surface,

a cuckoo’s cry


Milan Dragovic (Serbia)



refugee convoy

the river continues

its journey


Cezar-Florin Ciobica (Romania)


volcano view -

our evening shadows



Angelica Seithe (Germany)



harmattan moon

a leafless tree leans on

its shadow


Celestine Nudanu (Ghana)



the Vitosha moraines

how high can we get

hand in hand?


Vessislava Savova (Bulgaria)



flowering quince―

a crow shakes off

flurries of snow


Precious Oboh (Nigeria)



shifting light of winter sun the withered reeds


Jenny Fraser (New Zealand)



The haiku listed above are deserving of recognition in the 5th Japan – Russia Haiku Contest organized in Akita.


Respectfully submitted,


David McMurray


The International University of Kagoshima







Haiku contest judges Hidenori Hiruta, Satoru Kanematsu, Ben Grafstrom, and David McMurray separately evaluated a splendid and diverse assortment of 155 haiku submissions from students.


At first stymied by their eclectic taste in poetry, after careful consideration one haiku was finally evaluated as the winner of the JAL Foundation Award. The alluringly colored haiku is delightfully accompanied by a hint of humor. All eyes are on the pushing, posturing people. Or might it be the frenzied school fish who are posing for a memorable photograph?


In addition 20 haiku were selected as excellent representatives of the hard work, determination and creativity of the contestants. All students are congratulated for their efforts. The judging committee of the haiku composed in English for the 5th Japan Russian Haiku Contest recommends the following entries penned by students.



TOP PRIZE: the JAL Foundation Award


Deep turquoise water

Fish gathering all around

Posing for pictures


Stefanie Berrier  (Akita International University, Japan)






The school year begins

Spring wind pushes me forward

Starting a new life


Miki Munakata  (Akita University, Japan)



A row of old trees

They show the way of the wind

The sound of leaves


Niklas Holzapfel (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany)



Gentle rain

sweet birdsong fills the

dewy meadows


Sharma Diksha

(Zakir Husain Delhi College, University of Delhi, India) 



Summer festival

playing electric guitar

there, the world’s on fire



(The International University of Kagoshima, Japan)



sunny savanna

the lion starts to yawn

then roars



(Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural and Technology, Kenya)



Talking to each other

two colored ice creams -

afternoon heat


Kouta  Moriyama

(The International University of Kagoshima, Japan)



in lake

two people shadow of

time stands still


Mirano Kurisu




a falling leaf

the sun claims one more spot

in tree shade


Barnabas Ikeoluwa Adeleke

(Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria)




covered in ash, yet

cherry blossoms


Koyachi Mao

(The International University of Kagoshima, Japan)



Great grandma

approaching one-hundred years–

calm longevity


Miyuu Kamada

(The International University of Kagoshima, Japan)



Clear blue sky

thunderhead approaching

cotton candy at the zoo


Mitsuki Itoda

(The International University of Kagoshima, Japan)



High emerald mountain―

right wind blowing through my sleeves

smiling sunflower


Yugo Suzuki (Akita University, Japan)



the rainy season―

icy drops flow on my cheeks

sad that the spring ends


Mizuki Aoki  (Akita University, Japan)



Ah, Spring has arrived

children run in the wind

followed by puppies


Atsuko Miyazaki   (Akita University, Japan)



Sunset on beach –

she considers a

second abortion.


Suchona Iffat Jahan (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh) 



beach siesta

grandfather’s belly

rises and falls


Reshma Ramaprasad  (College student, India)



Stars becloud the sky

powdery snowflakes vanish

in the night ocean


Benjamin Bläsi (College student, Switzerland)


Shimmering river―


dripping starlight


Luisa-Evelina Stifii

(Highschool student at Colegiul National de Arta “Octav Bancila” Iasi, Romania)



Skyline before dawn

my son vacuums the silence

out of my haiku


Gasper Trcek  (College student, Slovenia)



Smiling faces

on the Japanese islands

cherry blossoms bloom


Mao Yamamoto  (Akita University, Japan)



The haiku listed above are deserving of recognition in the 5th Japan – Russia Haiku Contest organized in Akita.


Respectfully submitted,


David McMurray


The International University of Kagoshima


By Hidenori Hiruta