Japanese Haiku Art

Haiku is the Japanese poetic art of capturing a moment. Traditional Japanese Haiku are short 21 syllable poems in a 5-7-5 pattern. And for the Haiku poet, this is enough to capture life’s moments. These short poems, at the hand of a master, can truly touch us across the ages.

The poem “A world of grief and pain. Flowers bloom, Even then …” by Kobayashi Issa was written upon the death of his child and it speaks to all that have experienced such tragedy.

In the book The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku the translator Sam Hamill suggests the translation “This suffering world: the flowers will blossom, but even at that …”.

A different interpretation by David G. Lanoue is “world of pain – and the cherry blossoms add to it”. If I recall correctly R. H. Blyth concurs saying that because beauty had the audacity to be in the same world made Issa’s pain all the greater.

Some assert that the poem hints at hope. Rev. Mas Kodani writes that “Shaba refers to the world of Samsara, the world of self-centered, self-creating delusion, the unawakened state …” and Issa is encouraging us by saying that even in such a world, good things still happen.

Japanese Haiku Art - Basho - In the plum blossom scent, the sun pops out, a mountain path (mume ga ka ni notsuto hi no deru yamaji kana) - Copyright © 2016 Takase Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Basho - In the plum blossom scent, the sun pops out, a mountain path

梅が香にのつと日の出る山路かな
16" x 20", Framed

$320

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Basho - In the plum blossom scent, the sun pops out, a mountain path

Basho - In the plum blossom scent, the sun pops out, a mountain path in Japanese is 梅が香にのつと日の出る山路かな which is read mume ga ka ni notsuto hi no deru yamaji kana.

Plum blossoms are the harbinger of spring. In this poem, I can imagine that Basho is walking head down along a cold, misty mountain path. He smells the fragrance of the plum blossom and looks up and, suddenly, there is the sun. After a long winter, the fragrance of the plum blossoms contains all the promises of spring.

Japanese Haiku Art - Issa - A world of grief and pain, Flowers bloom, Even then (ku no shaba ya sakura ga sakeba saita tote) - Copyright © 2016 Takase Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Issa - A world of grief and pain, Flowers bloom, Even then

苦の娑婆や桜が咲けば咲いたとて
16" x 20", Framed

$320

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Issa - A world of grief and pain, Flowers bloom, Even then

Issa - A world of grief and pain, Flowers bloom, Even then in Japanese is 苦の娑婆や桜が咲けば咲いたとて which is read ku no shaba ya sakura ga sakeba saita tote.

In the book The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku style= the translator Sam Hamill suggests the translation "This suffering world: the flowers will blossom, but even at that …".

There are several interpretations to this poem Rev. Mas Kodani writes that "Shaba refers to the world of Samsara, the world of self-centered, self-creating delusion, the unawakened state ..." and Issa is encouraging us by saying that even in such a world, good things still happen.

A second interpretation is more morose. David G. Lanoue touches on this giving the translation "world of pain - and the cherry blossoms add to it". If I recall correctly R. H. Blyth concurs saying this poem was written in reference to the death of one of Issa's children - That beauty had the audacity to be in the same world made Issa's pain all the greater.

Japanese Haiku Art - Basho - Taken ill on my travels, My dreams roam over the withered moors (tabi ni yande yume wa kareno wo kake meguru) - Copyright © 2016 Takase Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Basho - Taken ill on my travels, My dreams roam over the withered moors

旅に病んで夢は枯野をかけ廻る
12 1/4" W x 43" H,
Japanese Scroll

$180

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Basho - Taken ill on my travels, My dreams roam over the withered moors

Basho - Taken ill on my travels, My dreams roam over the withered moors in Japanese is 旅に病んで夢は枯野をかけ廻る which is read tabi ni yande yume wa kareno wo kake meguru.

In the book Classic Haiku: An Anthology of Poems by Basho and His Followers style= translator and editor Asataro Miyamori offers the translation "I'm taken ill while travelling; And my dreams roam o'er the withered moors". Mr. Miyamori translates, "I have spent almost all of my life in travelling. Now I am taken ill on my journey, but my dreams, carrying my soul on them, travel freely like birds".

One can imagine, having travelled tirelessly only to find oneself confined, ill to a bed. And having one's dreams continue on in the journey.

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Japanese Calligraphy by Eri Takase - Copyright © 2016 Takase Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Haiku by Basho
In the plum blossom scent, the sun pops out, a mountain path
梅が香にのつと日の出る山路かな
16″ W x 20″ H
$320

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“It is said of the three most famous Haiku poets that Basho is the poet, Issa the conscience, and Buson the artist. I find myself going to Basho to look for the poetic moment, to Issa to comment on what is important and for perspective, and it is to Buson I go to for the art that is always before us in everyday life.”

Eri Takase

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This is a collection of classic poems written by master poets and rendered by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase. For a complete list of designs see our on-line catalog Japanese Haiku Calligraphy .

If you have questions or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Haiku Page List

H3018 Haiku by Ryota – They spoke no words, The visitor the host, And the white chrysanthemum. [0]

H3019 Haiku by Buson – From far and near, Hearing the sounds of waterfalls, Young leaves. [0]

H3020 Haiku by Chiyojo – To the person breaking off the branch, Giving its fragrance, The plum blossom. [0]
H3021 Haiku by Shiko – How enviable, Turning beautiful then falling, Maple leaves. [0]
H3022 Haiku by Basho – Shake even the grave! My wailing is the autumn wind.[0]
H3023 Haiku by Shiki – A pear tree is blooming. By a collapsed house on an old battlefield. [0]
H3024 Haiku by Issa – Were my father here, At dawn we would gaze, Over the green fields. (Translation by Blyth)
H3025 Haiku by Buson – An evening orchid, Hidden in its scent, The flower’s whiteness. [0]
H3026 Haiku by Buson
– To white plum blossoms, Each night just dawning, Evermore. [0]
H3027 Haiku by Chiyojo – My little dragonfly hunter. I wonder where he is off to today. [0]
H3028 Haiku by Issa – Snail, ever so slowly climb, Mt. Fuji! [0]

A Note on the Japanese: Some haiku were written more than 300 years ago and Japanese has changed dramatically over that time. Most traditional Japanese haiku, such as those written by Basho, have been reworked to use modern Japanese – and this is what you see in almost all books; the number of syllables remains fixed, but the characters used and sometimes even the reading may have changed from the original.

Haiku are commonly written in kanji and hiragana today but hiragana was not standardized until 1900 and what preceded hiragana, called hentaigana is quite different and, for the most part, unreadable to all but experts in archaic Japanese. We attempt to document these differences and often talk about the changes in the language, though ultimately, Master Takase will select a correct form that also lends itself to an artistic rendering.

Haiku Translations in Progress – This is our bull pen of designs we are thinking about doing …

Haiku List – Alphabetical by Poet

Basho – furu ike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
Basho – hito mo minu haru ya kagami no ura no ume
Basho – inazuma ni satoranu hito no tattosa yo
Basho – natsukusa ya tsuwamono domo ga yume no ato
Basho – shiratsuyu wo kobusanu hagi no uneri kana
Basho – tabi ni yande yume wa kareno wo kake meguru
Basho – tsuka mo ugoke waga naku koe wa aki no kaze
Basho – ume ga ka ni notto hi no deru yamaji kana
Buson – haru no umi hinemosu notari notari kana
Buson – ike to kawa hitotsu ni narinu haru no ame
Buson – inazuma ni koboruru ota ya take no tsuyu
Buson – ochikochi ni taki no oto kiku wakaba kana
Buson – osoki hi no tsumorite tooki mukashi kana
Buson – shiraume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri
Buson – tsuki ni tooku oboyuru fuji no iroka kana
Buson – ume ochikochi minami subeku kita subeku
Buson – yoru no ran ka ni kakurete ya hana shiroshi
Chiyojo – taoraruru hito ni kaoru ya ume no hana
Chiyojo – tombo tsuri kyou wa doko made itta yara
Issa – chichi arite akebono mitashi aotabara
Issa – katatsuburi sorosoro nobore fuji no yama
Issa – ku no shaba ya sakura ga sakeba saita tote
Issa – shibui toko haha ga kui keri yama no kaki
Issa – tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara
Issa – yo no naka wa jigoku no ue no hanami kana
Ryota – mono iwazu kyaku to teishu to shiragiku to
Shiki – nashi saku ya ikusa no ato no kuzure ie
Shiki – nata agete kiran to sureba konome kana
Shiki – sanzen no haiku wo kemishi kaki futatsu
Shiko – urayamashi utsukushuu natte chiru momiji

References:

[0] Translation by Timothy L. Jackowski, Takase Studios, LLC

[1] Miyamori, Asataro (1932). An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. Tokyo: Maruzen Company, Ltd. 60-61.

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

[3] Blyth, R. H. (1963) A History of Haiku Volume One. Tokyo. The Hokuseido Press. 367.

[4] Nelson, William. Saito, Takafumi (2006) 1020 Haiku in Translation: The Heart of Basho, Buson and Issa. South Carolina. BookSurge Publishing. 197.

[5] Nelson. 1020 Haiku in Translation. 19.

[6] Blyth. A History of Haiku Volume One. 107.

[7] Miyamori. An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. 218.

[8] Blyth, R. H. (1982) Haiku, Volume Four: Autumn-Winter. Tokyo. The Hokuseido Press. 984.
[9] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 985.
[10] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 992.
[11] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 992.
[12] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 1001.
[13] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 1101.
[14] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 1103.
[15] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 1110.
[16] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 1111.
[17] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 1120.
[18] Blyth. Haiku, Volume Four. 1129.

[19] Blyth, R. H. (1981) Haiku, Volume One: Easter Culture. Tokyo, The Hokuseido Press. 231.

[20] Buchanan, Daniel C. (1973) One Hundred Famous Haiku. Tokyo, Kenkyusha Printing Co. 23.

[21] Blyth, R. H. (1982) Haiku, Volume Four: Autumn-Winter. Tokyo. The Hokuseido Press. 984.

[22] Miyamori. An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. 460.

[23] Mason, R. H. P. Caiger, J. G. (1997) A History of Japan: Revised Edition. Tokyo, Tuttle Publishing. 238.

[24] Miyamori. An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. 209.

[25] Miyamori. An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. 502.

[26] Byth. A History of Haiku Volume One. 245.

[27] Miyamori. An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. 496.

[28] Blyth. A History of Haiku Volume One. 218.

[29] Donegan, Patricia. Ishibashi, Yoshie. (1998) Chiyo-ni: Woman Haiku Master. Singapore. Tuttle Publishing. 26.

[30] Miyamori. An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. 431.

[31] Donegan. Chiyo-ni: Woman Haiku Master. 108.

[32] Buchanan, Daniel C. (1973) One Hundred Famous Haiku. Tokyo, Kenkyusha Printing Co. 13.

[33] Nelson. 1020 Haiku in Translation. 80.

[34] Jane Reichhold. Basho – The Complete Haiku. Tokyo, Kondansha International Ltd. 137.

Gill, Robin D. (2006) Cherry Blossom Epiphany. Paraverse Press.

Related Sites:

Haiku of Kobayashi Issa – An archive of over 9000 Kobayashi Issa haiku and translations and 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



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