Haiku by Issa

In this world of ours,
We walk above hell,
Gazing at flowers
[1]

世の中は地獄の上の花見哉
yo no naka wa jigoku no ue no hanami kana

12 1/4″ W x 43″ H Japanese Scroll
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

$180.00

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H3013 – Haiku by Issa – In this world of ours…
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

In this world of ours,
We walk above hell,
Gazing at flowers
[1]

yo no naka wa
jigoku no ue no
hanami kana
世の中は
地獄の上の
花見哉
issa 一茶

David G. Lanoue writes in his excellent website Haiku of Kobayashi Issa, “In it, Issa offers a striking juxtaposition: above, people enjoy a pleasant day of viewing spring blossoms–drinking sake, eating, joking, laughing; while deep below, poor souls suffer the torments of hell. The contrast suggests that, for Issa, the opposite of hell isn’t heaven; it’s being in this world on a day when the blossoms bloom.” [2]

David G. Lanoue suggests the translation:

in this world
over hell, viewing
spring blossoms
[2]

R. H. Blyth takes makes a more positive interpretation noting, “Happiness is impossible without forgetting.” [3]

R. H. Blyth suggests the translation:

In this world of ours,
We walk on the roof of Hell,
Gazing at the flowers.
[3]

Sam Hamill suggests the translation:

In the midst of this world
we stroll along the roof of hell
gawking at flowers
[4]

Robin G. Gill suggests the paraverse:

what is life?
it’s blossom-viewing
on top of hell

the whole world
is out blossom-viewing
on the roof of hell

in this world
we sit on the roof of hell
gazing at flowers
[5]

References:

[1] Translation by Timothy L. Jackowski, Takase Studios, LLC. This translation was highly influenced by that of Blyth.[3]

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

[3] 367.

[4]

[5] 410.