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...
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...

Shiki’s second haiku

the white cat has disappeared snowy town Shironeko no / yukue wakarazu / yuki no machi 白猫の行衛わからず雪の町 It seems that Shiki was not satisfied with his first haiku about the cat on the roof that was heard but not seen. We know this because four years later, in 1889, he...
Shiki’s first haiku

Shiki’s first haiku

the snow is falling
 and a white cat on the roof
 is heard but not seen   Yuki furi ya / mune no shiro-neko / koe bakari
 雪ふりや棟の白猫声ばかり[1]   This is the first haiku that Masaoka Shiki wrote. He was seventeen years old and had been living in Tokyo for two years. He...