Loofah Day

Loofah Day

the loofah gourd blooms while he chokes to death on phlegm a buddha   Hechima saite / tan no tsumarishi / hotoke kana 糸瓜咲て痰のつまりし仏かな This is one of three poems which Masaoka Shiki scrawled on sheets of paper he used for painting just before he died at around 2 in the...
A Wreath of Cloud

A Wreath of Cloud

My copy of Arthur Waley’s translation of the Tale of Genji is the single-volume Modern Library Edition from 1960 and it’s falling apart. I’m teaching it this semester so I was poking around on abebooks.com the other day looking for a used copy in better shape. Waley’s...
Rhyme Finder

Rhyme Finder

The first page of Shiki’s “Rhyme Finder,” beginning with words that end in “a.” Anthony and I drove to Boston last week so he could check on a construction project. I brought back a carload of books that I’ll need for teaching in the...
Ducks’ Voices

Ducks’ Voices

In January of 1685, Matsuo Bashō had been on the road since August. He was staying with his disciple Hayashi Tōyō in Atsuta just south of Nagoya when one evening the two men, together with two other local poets, decided to take a boating trip “to see the water in...
Reading Sōseki Now

Reading Sōseki Now

I’m happy to report that the volume on the Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki, which I have co-edited with Reiko Abe Auestad and Alan Tansman has been published as the latest issue of Josai University’s Review of Japanese Culture and Society. The publication was...