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 as follows:

 

江山水陸の風光数を尽くして、今象潟に方寸を責。酒田の湊より東北の方、山を越、磯を伝ひ、いさごをふみて其際十里、日影やゝかたぶく比、汐風真砂を吹上、雨朦朧として鳥海の山かくる。闇中に莫作して「雨も又奇也」 とせば、雨後の晴色又頼母敷と、あまの苫屋に膝をいれて、雨の晴を待。其朝天能霽れて、朝日花やかにさし出る程に、象潟に舟をうかぶ。

先能因島に舟をよせて、三年幽居の跡をとぶらひ、むかふの岸に舟をあがれば、「花の上こぐ」とよまれし桜の老木、西行法師の記念をのこす。

 

Here is a painting of Kisakata in those days.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy; as per original copyright at:

http://www.touhoku.com/0a-03-kisakata.htm

 

Donald Keene translated this section into English as follows:

 

  After having seen so many splendid views of both land and sea, I could think of nothing now but Kisakata. We journeyed to the northeast from the port of Sakata, climbing over hills, following along the shore, plodding through the sand, a distance of about twenty miles in all. As the sun was sinking in the sky a breeze from the sea stirred up the sand, and a misty rain started to fall, obscuring Chokai Mountain. We groped ahead in the darkness. I felt sure that if Kisakata was exquisite in the rain, it would prove no less wonderful when it cleared. We squeezed into a fisherman’s thatch-covered hut and waited for the rain to stop.

  The next morning the weather cleared beautifully. When the morning sun rose in all its splendor, we took a boat out on the lagoon of Kisakata. We put in first at Noin Island, where we visited the remains of the hut in which Noin lived in seclusion for three years. On the opposite shore, when we landed from our boat, we saw the old cherry tree that stands as a memento of Saigyo.

 

In fact, there were 99 small islands and 88 lagoons in Kisakata in those days and the people enjoyed beautiful sceneries or fishing by boat around the islands.

 

However, 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. As a result, the lagoons were changed into dry land.

Now most of those lagoons have turned into rice fields or residential areas, but there are the remains of those days left there.

You can see such remains as the Noin Island, the boat-tying stone, or small islands in the article Basho’s Stay in Kisakata (1) at the site : https://akitahaiku.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/

 

Here is a photo of present-day Kisakata, 200 years after the earthquake, which was exhibited at Kisakata Local Museum in Nikaho-city, in June , 2004.(にかほ市象潟郷土資料館企画展2004年6月).

 

 

 

As posted already above, Donald Keene, the ex- member of the President’s Advisory Board at Akita International University(AIU)(国際教養大学), kindly contributed part of his English translation for Matsuo Basho’s travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi to our network.

This is because AIU President Mineo Nakajima (中嶋嶺雄) asked Donald Keene for his permission for us to use part of his translation.  

 

Kirby Record, a professor at AIU, teaching as director of English for Academic Purposes, also contributed his haiku to us. 

Haiku by K. Record

On the Earthquake

 

Villages of rubble        瓦礫の村々

Everything washed away    何もかも流される 

But the still-blue sky        しかし静かで青い空

 

 

Clutched in the hand     手でしっかりとつかんでいる

Of a child, floating face down—

             子供の手に、顔を下にして浮かんでいる―

Her favorite doll        彼女の大好きな人形

Yukari Sakamoto (阪本縁), a graduate from AIU, wrote haiku on the earthquake.

なごり雪大地が動き沈黙す

Unseasonable snow 
In silence
While the earth quakes
 

水仙が顔を差し出すがれきの山

Blooming daffodils

Alongside
A heap of debris
 

 

Susan Smela, who studied at AIU in 2010, is now a student at Beloit College in Wisconsin, USA.

On March 25, 2011, Susan sent me an e-mail , saying that they all heard about the huge earthquake in America, and many of them are raising money to help Japan.

Susan also said that she introduced haiga in America, and that she was able to hold a haiga meeting with students from her university (Beloit College in Wisconsin) and teach some basics of haiga and haiku.

It was a great time and the copies she made from my book really helped illustrate what she was talking about. They did some practices, then went in a circle, with 3 people writing one line of a haiku and the 4th person drawing a haiga-style picture.

Here are some photos Susan’s friend took from the meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yasushi Sato (佐藤康), a member of Akita International Haiku Network, contributed his haiku to us.

 

大地震に無慈悲の限り春の雪

spring snow
mercilessly falling on
earthquake-devastated towns

 


大津波言葉空しく春寒し

so devastating tsunami
any words powerless
spring
 relentlessly cold

 

 

Junko Masuda (桝田純子), a member of Akita International Haiku Network, contributed her haiku to us too.

 

復興の未来信じて花ひらく

 

sakura  sakura  bloom

believing in the future

Tohoku region

 

 

Last of all, let me post my haiku.

 

舟止めは夢のまた夢ねぶの花

 

tying a boat

i cannot even dream

mimosa blossoms

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (4)’ appears on May 21.

― Hidenori Hiruta

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On July 24, 2010, Brian Birdsell(McSherry) sent me an e-mail, contributing  a collection of haiku about summer.  

Hidenori

Thanks for the email. I agree some thoughts of the cool spring weather is rather refreshing right now. I think Akita is getting the same weather as morioka – hot and humid! I plan to go back to the states for a vacation with my daughter next week. But hope to finish a collection of summer haiku before I go and will send them to you. Enjoy the hot summer days and thanks again!

Brian

 

According to his self-introduction,

Brian McSherry has lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Prague, Italy and currently lives in northern Japan. He has lived there for over 6 years and enjoys spending time with his daughter, hiking in the mountains of Tohoku, writing, and traveling. He has a background in linguistics and teaches English at a private high school in Iwate. 

Now it is early in September, but the hot and humid days have unusually lasted.

Nice summer haiku by Brian make you cool and refreshed, I believe.

 

a butterfly

then two –

how far

I’ve wandered

 

蝶一羽さまよう果てや今は二羽

 

 

watching the rivers

flood the rice paddies –

her ice cream melts

 

川の水稲田にあふるアイスとく

 

 

a slumped woman

with hands in the earth

makes dinner

 

落ち込みや夕飯作る女の手

 

coughing coughing –

a scattering of flowers

in the wind

 

咳続く風に花々まき散れり

 

Kitakami river –

cool water rushes past

a collapsed house

 

家崩れ北上川の水走る

 

along the road

falling azaleas smear

the asphalt

 

ツツジ花散りて舗道を塗りつける

 

staring at a tree

a woman in kimono –

Tenmagu Shrine

 

木を見つむ和服の婦人天満宮

 

藤原養蜂 (Fujihara Apiary)

the smoke

from the beekeeper

drips of sunlight

 

養蜂家の煙日光のしずく

 

 

the body welcomes

summer clothes –

letting the breeze in

 

そよ風や受けて夏服うれしけり

 

a clod of earth

under the travelers foot –

distant mountains

 

旅人の足下の土や遠き山

 

the raspberry pot

still without leaves –

still get watered

 

葉の出ないラズベリーの鉢水かかる

 

dusk –

the picked dandelions

close up in her hands

 

たそがれやタンポポ閉まる彼女の手

 

 

the castle wall fades

under wild vines –

fleeting heroes

 

英雄や城壁のツタに消え行けり

 

a path made

as my daughter chases

wild flowers

 

我が娘野花を追って道をなす

 

an engine hums

in the apple grove –

first smell of cut grass

 

りんご園エンジン放つ草の香や

 

 

the rainy season

wears away at the page –

erasing my tracks

 

梅雨入りやページすり減り跡消える

 

traveling east

a shrine on the bluff –

repeating waves

 

東方の崖の社に寄せる波

 

I fall asleep

under clouds of green

leaves

blowing overhead

 

眠り込む青葉の雲が吹き流る

 

 

in the bent grass –

a moth with a lost wing

loses balance

 

草曲がり蛾の羽無くしふらめけり

 

 

along the roadside

pausing near rice seedlings –

10 years pass

 

10年や路傍に止まり早苗見る

 

Last of all, I present a photo of Kisakata (象潟), Akita for the last haiku by Brian.

Matsuo Basho (松尾芭蕉)stayed here in 1689 , visiting the Nohin Island (能因島)and writing haiku about mimosa blossoms(ねぶの花).

The next posting ‘Haiku by P K Padhy in India (3)’ appears on September 11.

Hidenori Hiruta