Fine Japanese Calligraphy by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

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H3024 Haiku by Issa - Were my father here ...
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

Were my father here,
At dawn we would gaze
Over the green fields.


Japanese Haiku Designs by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

These original, hand-lettered designs are perfect for personal and commercial use. For personal use the Adobe PDF designs are ideally suited for arts and crafts such as quilting, stained-glass, sewing - there is no limit to their uses. They are also perfect for tattoos and come with the line art that your tattoo artist will need to ink the design - they don't even have to know Japanese! Just print the design and you have all you need - and the designs are high-resolution images that can be easily resized. Personal use designs start at $14.95.

Commercial use designs come in three size (72, 300, and 600 dpi JPG). The lower resolution is suitable for images used on websites. The higher resolutions are suitable for all print illustrations such as for CD covers, books, magazines, and advertisements. These designs are subject to a generous  licensing agreement. Prices start from $34.95.

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This article is intended to be a scholarly work discussing the meaning and translation of this poem. Copyrights are retained by the original authors and used here under Fair Use Doctrine. We encourage you to support all the artists, as we have, by purchasing the referenced works.

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For help viewing the Japanese text see Displaying Japanese Characters




Cursive Design


Cursive Design





(5 designs in catalog)

Were my father here,
At dawn we would gaze
Over the green fields.

This beautiful haiku was written by Issa after the death of his father. [1]

Issa wrote in "The Journal of My Father's Last Days" (chichi no shuuen nikki, 1807) , "Dejected, I threw up my hands in despair. The suffering, the grief in my heart as I could do nothing but wait for his final moments ... Even the gods showed no mercy. The night moved brightly into dawn, and about six o'clock, as though he had fallen into a deep sleep, Father breathed his last." [2]

David G. Lanoue writes in his excellent website Haiku of Kobayashi Issa, "Hiroshi Kobori comments: it is before sunrise and the sky is gradually changing to brighter transparence. 'Still dark on the surface of the earth, Issa recognizes the rice field to be green. His consciousness focuses on the future of himself faced with his father's death.'"[3]

Original Japanese Haiku Designs
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

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Asiatic Society of Japan suggests the translation:

Oh, that father was here to watch with
me the dawn o'er the wide green rice-fields.

David G. Lanoue suggests the translation:

if my father were here--
dawn colors
over green fields

Calligraphy Notes:

1) From an artistic perspective this poem is great as it is mostly kana with the last line all in kanji. This gives an interesting balance to the design.

2) Other sources write the haiku 父ありて明ぼの見たし青田原 with the reading chichi arite akebono no mitashi aotahara. Using "aotahara" rather than "aotabara" or "aodabara". [6]

Translation Notes:

1) 父 (chichi) meaning "father".

2) ありて (arite) meaning "exist; be present". This is from the verb ある (aru) meaning "to be; to exist; to live". Today it is used when discussing the existence of inanimate objects only.

3) あけぼの (akebono) meaning "dawn." This is commonly written with the kanji .

4) みたし (mitashi) meaning "to watch; to see". From the verb 見る (miru) with the same meaning. The ending tashi indicates "wanting to watch; wanting to see".

5) 青田原 (aotabara though several sources use the reading aodabara). This is composed of 青田 (aota) meaning "green (rice) paddy" and 原 (hara) meaning "field".

Recommended Reading:


[1] Blyth, R. H. (1963) A History of Haiku Volume One. Tokyo. The Hokuseido Press. 410.

[2] Shirane, Haruo. (2004) Early Modern Japanese Literature. Columbia University Press. 938.

[3] Lanoue, David G. (1991-2009) Haiku of Kobayashi Issa. [Note, we have not been able to trace the source of the Hiroshi Kobori quote that Mr. Lanoue references]

[4] Asiatic Society of Japan. (1932) Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan By Asiatic Society of Japan ser.2 v.9. University of California. 117.

[5] Lanoue, David G. (1991-2009) Haiku of Kobayashi Issa.

[6] 栗山理一 (1983) 蕪村集一茶集. 小学館. 日本. 278.

Related Sites:

Haiku of Kobayashi Issa by David G. Lanoue has more than 9,000 Issa haiku with insightful commentaries.

Jeffrey's Japanese <-> English Dictionary - This is an independent dictionary based on the Edict data maintained by Dr. Jim Breen of Monash University.

Haiku Source - A Selected Collection of Japanese Haiku - Includes a few English translations

Wikipedia - Haiku - Overview of Haiku including brief biographies of Japan's most influential poets

Moonset Literary Newspaper - Dedicated to the Poetic and Visual Studies of Japanese Art Forms

Copyrights are retained by the original authors and used here under the Fair Use Doctrine.
We encourage you to support the authors, as we have, by purchasing the referenced works.

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