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Nuke Info Tokyo Haiku Column

CNIC ran an English haiku column (see below) from the January/February 2005 to the January/February 2009 editions of our bi-monthly newsletter Nuke Info Tokyo. Hopefully, readers sensed that they were getting a glimpse of Japanese culture through these haiku.

Traditionally haiku include a reference to the season, although the reference is often obscure to people not familiar with the genre. Japanese haiku hold fairly strictly to the 5-7-5 syllabic pattern (Japanese being a strictly syllabic language), but most people accept more flexibility in English haiku.

The haiku here were provided by members of the Aoba English Haiku Circle, most of whom are Japanese.

Haiku published in 2009 issues of NIT

January/February 2009

a camellia
dropped quietly
no one noticed but me

by Sachiko Kondoh

Japanese are spooked by the falling of camellia flowers. The flowers do not drop petal by petal. Rather, the whole flower falls at once. Japanese say it reminds them of the falling of a human head when a person has been beheaded.

Haiku published in 2008 issues of NIT

November/December 2008

fresh rice
from the earthquake zone
feels heavy

By Rumi Kamishima

This haiku refers to the first rice crop after the Chuetsu-Oki Earthquake. The area hit by the earthquake is the most famous region in Japan for rice.

July/August 2008

A whisper of wind
through the bamboo grove
a sigh of summer?

By Masao Amano

Comment by the author
When I went to school, I had to go up about three hundred stone steps, near which I had to pass by a bamboo grove. I heard a sound of a summer wind blowing through the grove. I felt a sigh of summer.

September/October 2008

Scenes on the river
Anglers in clear water
An egret on the ford

By Sachiko Kondoh

January/February 2008

Tilting its head
In mourning

by Emiko Kamiya

May/June 2008

Carp-shaped streamers
tangling and untying
breath of the town

By Hitoshi Ichinose

May 5th is "Boys Day" in Japan. In the lead up to this national holiday, streamers in the shape of carp fish are hung from flag poles and roof tops. Families hope that their boys will grow up strong like carp. (By the way, "Girls Day" is on March 3rd.)

Haiku published in 2007 issues of NIT

September/October 2007

preaching life and death
the great senior priest
with a white fan

by Rumi Kamishima

The color white is a seasonal reference to summer. September, when this haiku was written, is officially autumn, but the hot weather often continues well into September.

November/December 2007

Chilly morning
A hawk wheeling
Care free

by Setsuo Iida

May/June 2007

colored bamboo leaves
whirling to the earth
rondo in the wind

by Sachiko Kondoh

July/August 2007

Strolling by night
wishing to bridge and cross
the Galaxy

by Hitoshi Ichinose

January/February 2007

Young grass sprout
Coming out of the chilly earth
Under the fallen leaves

by Toshishige Aoki

March/April 2007

Over dandelions
School-girls tarry on the way home
First sweet temptation

by Michiko Murai

Haiku pubished in 2006 issues of NIT

September/October 2006

Singing cricket
How many nights are you staying
At the bathroom nook?

by Hitoshi Ichinose

November/December 2006

winter cherry blossoms
what makes you look so tranquil
in misty rain

by Sachiko Kondoh

May/June 2006

mosses in the shade
as green as the deep sea
early summer rains

by Yoko Kawasaki

July/August 2006

my tiny space
surrounded by raindrops
from the umbrella

by Rumi Kamishima

January/February 2006

a dead leaf clings to the twig
withstanding the gale

by Masao Amano

Comment by the author
Almost all of the leaves fell off the cherry
tree in my neighbour's garden. The last few
leaves cling to the twigs. Several days later
only one last leaf still clings to the twig. I
remember O. Henry's short story 'The last
leaf'. Try hard to cling, the last one!

March/April 2006

On a steep slope
first flight of swallows
passed in an instant

by Shoji Murata

Haiku should capture a moment in time.
Though the writer is not mentioned, she/he
is present as the observer. Not all haiku
adhere strictly to this formula, but Shoji
Murata's contribution to this issue of NIT
is an excellent example of one that does.

Haiku published in 2005 issues of NIT

September/October 2005

humid summer night
the moon in the water
reflection and cool breeze

by Toshiko Hattori

November/December 2005

Autumn leaves
form a shifting mosaic
on the wind-swept pond

by Michiko Murai

May/June 2005

a spider’s thread
woven into silk
after the rain

by Setsuo Iida

July/August 2005

on a stump
the silver thread
formed by a snail

by Rumi Kamishima

January/February 2005

New Year's Day
Nothing special to change
But my attitude

by Sachiko Kondo

March/April 2005

wind-blown petals
embroider an edge of the lake
pink-colored curves

by Seiji Takahashi

Aoba English Haiku Circle
Since the beginning of 2005, CNIC has included a haiku in each issue of NIT. These haiku were provided by members of the Aoba English Haiku Circle, named after the ward in Yokohama city where the group is based. "Aoba" means "green leaf" and the members say they try to remain as fresh as "aoba". The group has fifteen members and has been meeting once a month since 1997.

Haiku has been one of the mainstreams of Japanese culture since the haiku poets Basho and Buson, who were active in the 17th and 18th centuries respectively. In recent years, more and more people all over the world are writing haiku in their own languages. With just 17 syllables, haiku is the shortest form of poetry. Haiku express the writer's love of nature and the four seasons.

Members of the Aoba English Haiku Circle submit haiku based on seasonal words to each monthly meeting. They hope you enjoy their contributions to NIT.

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