Saturday, September 30, 2006

native village or Edo city

uka-uka to bon mo sugitaru to^ro^ kana

David’s English
the Bon Festival
flickers out too...
Lanterns for the dead

David’s comment
Uka-uka to is an old expression meaning (1) not at peace or (2) thoughtless or absentminded; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 182. In this case I am assuming that Issa is using the first meaning: the lamplights flicker restlessly as the festival ends. The Bon Festival of the Dead takes place in Eighth Month in the old lunar calendar. At this time, people light lanterns to guide their ancestors' spirits back home.

sakuo Renku
1804 Age 42, lived in Edo. His father died before 3 years.
His works began to get reputation in Edo. But he though that
he have to come back to the native village as the successor.

furusato koisi Edo nimo miren

longing for native village
still attached to Edo
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Thursday, September 28, 2006

forest of temple

David’s English
three dewdrops--
Ueno's cicadas
break out into song

Issa, 1812

tsuyu mi tsubu ueno no semi no nakidashinu

sakuo Renku
jyou-butu negai tera no mori yuku

pray becoming Buddha
go through the forest of temples

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

a souvenir for family

yamadera ya cha no ko no an mo kiku no hana

David’s English
mountain temple--
teacakes, red bean jam

sakuo Renku
an no tyagasi ya kazoku no miyage

jam teacakes—
a souvenir for family
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Monday, September 25, 2006

the love of stars,men and insects

David’s English
caught by someone
waiting for the stars

kirigirisu hoshi matsu hito ni torare keri
by Issa, 1809

sakuo Renku 連句
hoshi hito mushi no koi no yoru

of stars, men and insects
the night of love

David’s comment
The haiku refers to Tanabata, a festival that takes place on the seventh day of Seventh Month. According to a romantic legend, two celestial lovers--the stars Altair and Vega--are separated by Heaven's River (the Milky Way). One night a year (Tanabata night), they cross the starry river to be together. A katydid (kirigirisu) is a green or light brown insect, a cousin of crickets and grasshoppers.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

sit down beside

David’s English
the nightingale
doesn't bow...
plum trees in bloom

uguisu ya eshaku mo nashi ni ume no hana
by Issa, 1814

sakuo Renku
yoko he suwatsu te otya wo itsupai

sit down beside
have a cup of tea

David's comment.
The courtly nightingale seems to take the plum blossoms for granted, not bowing to them--unlike, one presumes, Issa. Issa uses two spring season words in the poem: nightingale and plum blossoms, a popular combination in Japanese art.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

the speech of the go-between

David’s English
"Good luck's coming!"
the peony longs
to be heard

fuku kuru to kiite hosigaru botan kana

by Issa, 1824

Shinji Ogawa points out that the phrase, kiite hoshigaru means "longing to be listened [to]." He comments, "The peony is so beautiful that it seems to say in a loud voice, 'Good luck is coming.'"

sakuo comment
Peony is the kigo of fifth month. In 1824 May Issa married with third wife.
He was 62 years old with loneliness of single.
After three months they divorced.

sakuo's Renku
nakoudo-guti ni tui nose rare te

the good speech of the go-between
unintentionally followed
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

go around for waking up

David’s English
wake up! wake up! my children--
swallows, pigeons

oki yo oki yo ako ga tsubame hato suzume

by Issa, 1814

sakuo 連句
asa da asa da to okoshi te mawaru

morning has come
go around for waking up

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

dog pray for the flowers

David’s English
cherry blossoms scatter--
growling Buddha's name
a temple dog

hana chiru ya sho^myo^ unaru tera no inu

by Issa, 1810

sakuo 連句
nami ami dabutsu to hana wo tomonau

namu-ami dabutsu
dog prays for the flowers

my heart like as water

David’s English
water flowing over
the word "heart"...
plum blossoms

shin no ji ni mizu mo nagarete ume no hana

1827 age 65, he died on December of this year.
Last year he married with third wife.

sakuo Renku
kokoro mo mizu mo wadakamari nasi

my heart like as water
flowing freely.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Edo castle at the back

David’s English
in my province
even trained monkeys
wear noble hats

waga kuni wa saru mo eboshi wo kaburi keri


by Issa, 1816

David's comment
A jab at local politicians? Literally, Issa says that the monkey is wearing the courtly headgear of a nobleman. Dancing monkeys perform their tricks in the New Year's season.

sakuo’s comment
The founder of Edo government is Ieyasu.
When he come into Edo castle firstly, his horse got injured at the leg.
A monkey dancing team prayed for the horse. After saving the horse ,
the monkey team got high confidence from the founder and got special
permition that was free entrance to the castle at three times a year .
They were given money as rewards every year.
In Edo era, there were many monkey dance teams in Edo city.

sakuo Renku
edo-jyou wo seni saru ibaru kana

Edo castle at the back
were monkeys arrogant


Saturday, September 16, 2006

the time of harvest

1805 age 43, his father died before 4 years.

yama-yama mo toshiyoru-sama ya tane fukube

David’s English
all the mountains
are looking old...

D’s comment
Or, more literally, "seed gourds" (tane fukube). Though the kanji for "gourd" is today read as hisago, Issa read it as fukube.

sakuo Renku
jinsei mo aki syukaku no toki

life approaching to Autumn
now the time of harvest


Friday, September 15, 2006

from one founder

kimi ga yo ya nushi nashi tsuka mo kazari matsu

by Issa, 1818

David’s English
Great Japan!
even an ownerless grave
decorated with pine

His comment
"Great Japan" is my translation of kimi ga yo, a phrase that refers to the emperor's reign and begins the Japanese national anthem. Someone has placed a New Year's pine-and-bamboo decoration on the grave.

sakuo comment and Renku
kimi means emperor, and yo is reign.
Issa admitted that Japan is owned by Emperor.
Ownerless mound is an ancient grave that would belong to followers of
old emperors.
Mostly Japanese think that we have come from same ancestors that were all emperor’s families.
At Issa’s age, nationality has been elevated by approaching of foreign ships.

ware ra hajimaru itigen no shiso

we have started
from one founder

Thursday, September 14, 2006

without freedom

David’s English
does the caged
nightingale hear?
mountain cuckoo

uguisu wa kago de kiku ka yo kankodori

1822 Age 60,

sakuo Renku
jiyu naki mi ha umaku utae nu

without freedom
does not sing well

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

traveling hats in mist

David’s English
their traveling hats
looking small...

tabi-gasa wo chiisaku miseru kasumi kana

1796 , age 34. journey on West District,

David's comment
The hat is an umbrella-hat.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

poor Haiku-isst

David’s English
in plum blossoms
kettle soot won't come off...
my wrinkled hands

his comment
Is Issa "ashamed" of his dirty hands amid the pure blossoms?

ume saku ni nabe-zumi torenu shiwade kana

sakuo 寸評

1804 age at 42, Leaving from the old sect, he had jointed to new
Seibi's party who was Issa's sponcer as well as great haiku-ist.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

two houses


ie futatsu mitsu yotsu tako no yûbe kana

David’s English
flying from houses--
a two, threefour-kite

And his comment
Shinji Ogawa notes that the numbers grammatically modify the houses, yet "the numbers influence the 'kites' also." He adds that the normal Japanese expression is to give just two numbers, "two, three," or "three, four," but here, "Issa uses three numbers to create special effects--to make the image more clear, the image of a tranquil and peaceful village."

sakuo comment

Tr,David said the kites are two, three, and four.
If you read this haiku with 5,7,5.,
the sentence is devided as follows,

ie futatsu
mitu yotsu tako no
yuube kana

The houses are two.

sakuo’s English

two houses
three, four kites

sakuo Renku
niken no ieni genkina kotati

two houses and
cheerful children

Thursday, September 07, 2006

begger's party in grave yard

1795, age 33

kojjiki mo gomazu kumuran kyô [no] haru

David’s English
even beggars toast
with sesame sake...
first of spring

his comment
I originally thought that this was a scene at a Shinto shrine. I was misled by the kanji with which Issa writes the word, goma; he uses the characters that signify "holy fire" instead of those that mean "sesame seeds." Shinji Ogawa set me straight. He adds that kumu, in this context, means "drink." The ending -ran changes the verb into a conjecture ("they may or may not be drinking"). In my re-translation, I use the verb "toast" in its simple, present tense, but Issa more exactly is saying, "perhaps even beggars may toast..." In English, the "perhaps" and "may" weaken the poem, so I've left them out.

sakuo comment.
sesame binegar is sake whick is used as secret language of priest.

ohaka de syougatu kojiki no paatii

New Year in the grave yard
beggar’s party.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

shutter open in the morning

1795, Age 33 He visits Matsuyama City.

asa-gasumi tenshu no amado kikoe keri

David’s English
morning mist--
the castle's shutters
bang open

David’s comment
Literally, Issa says that the "shutter(s)" or "storm door(s)" can be heard. At first I imagined someone shutting them, but Sakuo Nakamura points out that in the morning the shutters would be opening.
In his translation, Makoto Ueda imagines the sound is a "creak"; Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2004) 34.

For your convenience.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Come on Strike

1795, Age 33
He visits Matsuyama City.

tsuku-zuku to u ni nirama[ru]ru ukai kana

David’s English
the cormorants stare
at them hard...
cormorant fishermen

sakuo Renku
yasui tingin suto wo mo jisezu

cheap wage
come on strike 

About Photographs of Japan - Ukai Cormorant Fishing