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February 2008 Issue VIII:1

Gendai Haiku Translations
Uda Kiyoko (宇多 喜代子) —  Haiku Selections
Richard Gilbert and Itô Yûki (trans.)


mugi yo shi wa ki isshoku to omoikomu


wheat –
realizing death as one color



nemuri tsutsu fukai e otosu chô no hane


drops, a butterfly wing
into a deep well



moteamasu kubi no nagasa ya nashirogan


the unmanageable length of a neck –
      rice seedlings chill


(for “rice seedlings chill” see ‘nashirogan’ below)



sanaburi no ichi nichi yuno no yu no atsuki


the day of sanaburi
hot springs of Yuno
the heat


(for ‘sanaburi’ and ‘Yuno’ see below)



teki noka kazu dake no nogiku o mochi kaeru


bringing back
wild chrysanthemum – only
the number of enemies



teppen ya kanarazu otoko ga tachidomaru


piled iron :
without doubt
men stop




1) 苗代寒 nashirogan  (a.k.a., nawashirozamu, noshirogan)

In traditional Japanese rice agriculture, during the early spring farmers plant rice grains in shallow trays with soil. In this season, it often becomes chilly and wintery, and this return of cold weather is known as nashirogan. Farmers must care for the rice seedlings in this weather. After the young seedlings of rice have grown, they are transplanted into the rice field, and then it is flooded.



2) 早苗饗 sanaburi

A folk festival held after rice planting, in early summer. In this festival, village people summon ta no kami (the divine kami (spirit) of rice) from the heavens, and drink with the divinity. Then, after the drinking with this divinity of food, the people send the kami back to the divine heavens once again. This festival has two significances: the first is as a refreshment after the very hard work of rice planting. The other is, of course, as a sacred ritual for the divinity of food. The festival of sanaburi is a summer kigo.



3) 湯野 yuno

(Yuno onsen): A famous hot spring (onsen) in Yamaguchi Prefecture. In historical documents, this onsen was founded in the late 16th century. In legend however it was founded by the Empress Jungы (169-269 CE).


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