Reminder of 5th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest : Deadline is June 30

 

Dear Haiku Friends,

We are looking forward to your haiku for 5th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest, whose deadline is June 30.

Please check out the guidelines again on the website below.

https://akitahaiku.com/2016/05/03/

 

Here in Akita, it is just June-like weather lasting these days, when I visited Kisakata(象潟) Basho visited on August 1, 1689, on his journey.

Basho and his party are said to have taken a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata.  They put in first 能因島 (Nohin jima), Nohin Island, where they called at the remains of the hut in which 能因(Nohin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.

After that, Basho and his party left for the opposite shore, where they landed from their boat, and they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hoshi)(1118-1190), Saigyo. Then they called at the temple standing nearby. In those days it was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which is now called 蚶満寺 (Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple.

 

Here are photos and haiku about the present-day Kisakata.

 

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Basho wrote about Kisakata in his travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi 』 .

鬼怒鳴門(キーン・ドナルド), Donald Keene, translated the last part about Kisakata into English as follows:

 

  Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, I rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water. To the west, one can see as far as Muyamuya Barrier; to the east, the road over the embankment leads to Akita in the distance. The sea is to the north. The place where the waves of the sea break into the lagoon is called Tide-Crossing. Kisakata is about two miles in either direction.

Kisakata resembles Matsushima, but there is a difference. Matsushima seems to be smiling, but Kisakata wears a look of grief. There is a sadness mingled with the silent calm, a configuration to trouble the soul.

 

Basho’s last lines might say that there is something woeful about Kisakata.

I wonder if Basho predicted that such a natural disaster as earthquake might occur in Kisakata in the future.

In fact, 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, most of which turns into paddy field.

Here are some excerpts of The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi 』, translated by鬼怒鳴門(キーン・ドナルド), Donald Keene.

 

キーン・ドナルド(1)

キーン・ドナルド(5)

キーン・ドナルド(2)キーン・ドナルド(3)キーン・ドナルド(4)

 

Here is a photo of 鬼怒鳴門(キーン・ドナルド), Donald Keene, my haiku friend and me, taken at Embassy of Sweden in Tokyo, Japan.

 

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Lastly, there are more information about Kisakata at the following website.

https://akitahaiku.com/2009/08/29/

https://akitahaiku.com/2009/09/12/

https://akitahaiku.com/2009/09/26/

https://akitahaiku.com/2011/05/14/

https://akitahaiku.com/2011/05/21/

 

By Hidenori Hiruta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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:

https://akitahaiku.wordpress.com/2011/05/14

https://akitahaiku.wordpress.com/2011/05/21

 

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.

 

 

 

ねぶの木や芭蕉の像に花供ふ 

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.

 RO KU JAPONIA

 

DEMNITATE

DIGNITY

IGEN

威厳

 

şcoală-n ruină –

cursul despre tsunami

în aer liber

 

school in ruins –

tsunami lesson

outdoor

 

破壊された学校 ―

津波の授業

屋外で

 

după cutremur –

acelaşi munte Fuji

în inima mea

 

after the earthquake –

the same mount Fuji

in my heart

 

地震の後 ―

同じ富士の山

私の心の中に

 

furia mării

întrerupând destine –

Fuji neclintit

 

the fury of the sea

breaking destinies –

still Fuji

 

海の狂暴

運命をばらばらに ―

静かな富士

 

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 ―

今この時に思う行ってみたい

富士山へ

 

salvatorii –

atât de greu de găsit

fiecare cuvânt

 

rescue team –

this spring so hard to find

every single word

 

救助隊 ―

この春はとっても見つけにくい

あらゆる一つの語

 

Fukushima –

pentru toți dispăruții

câte un haiku

 

Fukushima

for every missing man

a haiku

 

福島 ―

あらゆる行方不明者に

俳句を一句

 

singurătate –

alături de Cei Cinzeci

întreaga lume

 

loneliness –

the whole world by the side

of The Fifty Men

 

孤独 ―

かたわらに全世界

50人の男のそばに

 

SPERANŢĂ

HOPE

KIBŌ

希望

 

printre ruine –

nestingherit cireşul

înmugureşte

 

among ruins –

the cherry tree buds

without obstacles

 

廃墟の中 ―

桜の木につぼみ

障害はなし

 

după potop –

în bărcile de hârtie

flori de cireș

 

after the flood –

in the paper boats

sakura blossom

 

洪水の後 ―

紙製の船に

桜の花

 

suflete în mâl –

noi rădăcini înalţă

lujeri de lotus

 

souls in mud –

the new born roots arising

lotus shoots

 

泥の中の魂 ―

新生の根が生ずる

蓮の芽

 

după cutremur –

dînd colţ printre rădăcini

un coif de samurai

 

after earthquake –

springing among roots

a samurai helm

 

地震の後 ―

根の間にはずんでいる

侍の兜

 

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

 

消え去った町に

枝一本の木が一本 ―

巣の中に最初の卵

 

soare răsare –

un strigăt de nou-născut

printre ruine

 

sun rising –

a newborn’s cry

among the ruins

 

太陽が昇る ―

新生児の泣き声

廃墟の中で

 

cutremur în zori –

printre ruine

o păpădie

 

earthquake at dawn –

among the ruins

a dandelion

 

夜明けの地震 ―

廃墟の中で

タンポポが一本

 

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 ―

桜のつぼみ

 

sake şi sakura

printre lacrimi şi ruine –

un nou început

 

sake and sakura

through tears and ruins –

a new beginning

 

酒と桜

涙と廃墟を通って ―

新しい始まり

 

în zorii zilei –

deasupra ruinelor

cei dintâi cocori

 

at dawn –

over the ruins

the first cranes

 

夜明け ―

廃墟の中に

最初の鶴たち

 

printre ruine

mireasma unui cireş

abia înflorit

 

among ruins

the scent of a cherry tree

just bloomed

 

廃墟の中に

桜の木の匂い

花が咲いたばかり

 

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

 

 

 

蚶満寺芭蕉の花の咲きにけり

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)

 

 

 

 

 

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 .

Here I take up the latter part of this section.

 

此寺の方丈に座して簾を捲ば、風景一眼の中に尽て、南に鳥海、天をさヽえ、其陰うつりて江にあり、西はむやむやの関、路をかぎり、東に堤を築て、秋田にかよふ道遥に、海北にかまえて、浪打入る所を汐こしと云。江の縦横一里ばかり、俤松島にかよひて、又異なり。松島は笑ふが如く、象潟はうらむがごとし。寂しさに悲しみをくはえて、地勢魂をなやますに似たり。

 

Here is a painting of Kisakata exhibited at the Kanmanji Temple.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy; as per original copyright at:

http://staff.aist.go.jp/nakano.shun/Jap/Chokai/news/recently.html

 

Donald Keene translated this part into English as follows:

 

  Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, I rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water. To the west, one can see as far as Muyamuya Barrier; to the east, the road over the embankment leads to Akita in the distance. The sea is to the north. The place where the waves of the sea break into the lagoon is called Tide-Crossing. Kisakata is about two miles in either direction.

Kisakata resembles Matsushima, but there is a difference. Matsushima seems to be smiling, but Kisakata wears a look of grief. There is a sadness mingled with the silent calm, a configuration to trouble the soul.

 

Basho’s last lines say that there is something woeful about Kisakata.

I wonder if Basho predicted that such a natural disaster as earthquake might occur in Kisakata in the future.

 

In fact, 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.

 

Here is a photo of the backyard of the Kanmanji Temple in Kisakata, 321 years after Basho’s visit.

 

 

 

Koji Otomo, curator at Shoji Taro Memorial Museum in Akita-city, contributed his poems on the earth to our network.

 

春愁 無情         Spring Woe   No Mercy

東海林太郎音楽館館長 大友康二

 

大地 ゆらぐ日                 On the day when the earth quakes

海 怒りて                          the sea gets furious

慟哭                                   cries bitterly  

三陸の海を                         the Sanriku coast

引き裂く                              tears into pieces

 

花 待つことなく                  Flowers wait for no man

人 逝く                             those there pass away

波に 消える                     vanish into waves 

あわれ                               alas!

 

世界に ただひとつ            The only nation in the world

被爆の国 ニッポン             the atom-bombed nation, Japan 

その空に                             in the skies

白い光の 恐怖                   the terrors of white rays

 

六十有余年           A little more than 60 years             

問われる 政治                   what has politics done?

問われる いのち                what is life?

喪われた こころ                  lost hearts

 

なぜ                                     Why?

どうして                               for what reason?

繰り返すことばは                the repeated words  

がれきに 吸い込まれ          are absorbed into rubbles

沈黙(しじま) 空しく            silence is empty 

 

潰滅の地に                         In the annihilated areas

おののきばかり                   there remain nothing but shivers

人 ただ侘(た)つ                those there have only to mourn

 

ふるさとの こころに             In the heart of home

槌音 響くは                        hammering sounds will resound

いつの日か                          when is it?

  

Here is a photo of the ruined fortress (払田柵)in Akita Prefecture(秋田県), constructed in the Heian period(平安時代)(794-1185).

 

 

 

Haikuists in Akita contributed haiku to our network.

They are members of the haiku group: Ten’I (Providence)天為俳句会led by Dr. Akito Arima主宰 有馬朗人).

 

余震なほ朔太郎忌の星月夜         伊藤沐雨 (Mokuu Ito)

 

aftershocks come

on the starlit night

Sakutaro’s anniversary

 

燭台に朱のろうそくや余震来る         伊藤智子 (Satoko Ito)

                                                               

on the candlestick

vermeil candles burning

the aftershock comes

 

大津波退きオリオンの煌めける         伊藤慶子 (Keiko Ito)

                                                               

huge tsunami gone out

Orion’s Belt

sparkling

 

大地震の果てなる春の浅きかな      五十嵐義知 (Yoshitomo Igarashi)

                                                                         

great earthquake over

this spring

how transient!

 

なにもかも攫はれし地に黄水仙         笹尾巳生子 (Mioko Sasao)

                                                                            

everything lost

in the waste land

jonquils bloom

 

鎮魂の瓦礫の町に春の雪            進藤八重子 (Yaeko Shindo)

                                                                            

consoling

the towns of devastation

spring snow

 

奥入瀬の激しき調べ春の霜            鈴木東亜子 (Toako Suzuki)

                                                                              

intense music

of the Oirase River

spring frost

 

浴槽の揺れの余震や春寒             寺田恵子 (Keiko Terata)

                                                                           

the aftershock

of bathtub shaking

spring cold

 

被災地につくしたんぽぽなずなかな     山内誠子 (Seiko Yamanouchi)

                                                                         

for the devastated areas

field horsetail’s shoots,

dandelions, and shepherd’s purses

 

囀に小さな森の膨らめり              和田仁 (Jin Wada)

                                                                           

birdsongs resounding

the small woods seem

bigger and bigger

 

 

Here is a photo of daffodils and local springwater (郷清水) in Akita Prefecture.

 

 

 

Hiroko Kawashiri (川尻弘子) in Akita contributed haiku too.

 

地震止みて運河に重き春の雪

 

the earthquake over

too heavy for the canal

spring snow

 

誰からか呼ばれたやうな朧月

 

the pale moon

i feel like…

someone is calling

 

 

Last of all, let me post my haiku.

 

草青む払田柵やよみがえる

 

grasses growing

over the ruined fortress

reconstructing

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (5)’ appears on May 28.

― 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 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

 

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).

 

夏草や兵どもが夢の跡          

 

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 :

 

兼て耳驚したる二堂開張す。経堂は三将の像をのこし、光堂は三代の棺を納め、三尊の仏を安置す。七宝散りうせて、珠の扉風にやぶれ、金の柱霜雪に朽て、既頽廃空虚の叢と成べきを、四面新に囲て、甍を覆て風雨を凌。暫時千歳の記念とはなれり。

 

五月雨の降のこしてや光堂

 

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.

 

 

「ドナルド・キーンさん国籍取得し日本永住、希望の象徴」

 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