On June 21, 2014, Dr. Lars Värgo wrote FOREWORD for a haiku booklet “Radu Șerban AMBASSADORIAL HAIKU” as President of the Tokyo International Literary Society.

Dr. Värgo was very active and influential as in the following report.


Tokyo International Literary Society

25 April 2013
by Lars Vargö


Last night we organized the first lecture activity of the newly formed Tokyo International Literary Society (TILS) at the Alfred Nobel Auditorium of the Swedish Embassy. The lecturer was the renowned authority on Japanese literature, Dr. Donald Keene. It was truly an historic moment. Dr. Keene spoke about his encounters and friendship with writers like Tanizaki Jun’ichirô, Mishima Yukio, Abe Kôbô and Ôe Kenzaburô. He also spoke with sadness in his eyes about his old friend and former Minister of Education Nagai Michio.

Listening to Donald Keene is not only informative and fascinating. He came to Japan right after the war and walked into what he called “the golden age of Japanese literature”. Since then he has written about and introduced Japanese literature to the rest of the world, from early ages until modern times. To have Dr. Keene as the first speaker of TILS was a true privilege.

The purpose of TILS is to introduce Japanese literature to the foreign community in Japan and world literature to Japanese nationals. If there is a writer from, say, Europe, visiting Japan, the TILS will try to invite her/him to give a lecture. TILS will also invite Japanese writers to talk on a regular basis. If you wish to know more about TILS please contact the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo.


Here are two photos on the first lecture activity by Dr. Donald Keene.




Here is FOREWORD by Dr. Värgo with the Japanese translations by Hidenori Hiruta.




 In this collection of haiku by Ambassador Radu Serban the poet has chosen to classify the poems according to five themes: ‘Japan’, ‘Nature’, ‘Feelings’, ‘Time’, and ‘Home’.




In the first category, the reader will find scenes and locations which reveal various experiences of the poet throughout the country.




In Kumamoto and Matsuyama he follows in the footsteps of Natsume Sôseki and Masaoka Shiki.




Mount Fuji is described from various angles and the beauty of the mountains around Asahikawa have also found their ways into the haiku.




In Tokyo the moon becomes part of a giant Christmas tree decoration.

A butterfly on Mount Takao is accompanied by wandering clouds in Fukushima.





In the second category, ‘Nature’, the poet goes through the various seasons of Japan. Flowers, snowflakes, a flying peacock as well as immaculate swans help paint a sensitive atmosphere of harmony against the background of a dramatic and powerful nature.




Feelings are not commonly expressed in traditional haiku, but although a special category is dedicated to them, the poet does not exaggerate or exploit the emotions of humans. He keeps the feelings low key and often only hints at what one can find behind them.




He sometime also alludes to earlier centuries of poets and their expressions. ‘Dew of tears’ in one of the poems immediately brings forward associations to the early Japanese collection Manyôshû.





In ‘Time’ it is especially the passage of time that is alluded to through various poetic expressions. And in ‘Home’ the poet puts the light on the warm atmosphere created in homes where the holiday spirit is a time of philosophical reflection.





Many of Ambassador Serban’s haiku follow the traditional 5-7-5 syllabic pattern, while in others one can find both jiamari and jitarazu, ‘too many’ and ‘too few’ syllables respectively.




This is in line with the best haiku written all over the world today. What is important is poetry itself, not the metrical uniform.




Lars Vargö

President of the Tokyo International

Literary Society

June 21, 2014  






Here is a photo of Dr. Lars Värgo and Hidenori Hiruta, who translated FOREWORD into Japanese.



By Hidenori Hiruta