Monday, December 31, 2007


Dr. David translate and comment

these days scarecrows
are the gatekeepers

kamakura ya ima wa kagashi no yashiki mori


by Issa, 1792

This is Issa's earliest haiku that we have on the subject of scarecrows. The "gatekeepers" (yashiki mori) might also be translated, "keepers of the mansions." Kamakura is one of Japan's ancient capitals, on Sagami Bay southwest of Tokyo.

sakuo comment.
1792 Issa was 30 years old.
Third Month, 25th day, Issa start on a journey to Shikoku Island.
In a few days, he reached at Kamakura and saw the old mansion of Minamoto Yotitomo,
who is the first Syogun and the founder of Government by warrior.

sakuo haiga

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Edo voices

edo-goe ya hanami no hate no kenka kai

David’s English
Edo voices--
the blossom viewing ends
in a quarrel

by Issa, 1824

In Issa's time the citizens of Edo (present-day Tokyo) were famously loud and argumentative.

sakuo comment
Fire and quarrel were a special bloom in Edo city.
There were many single warriors, males servants and young craftsmen in Edo city.
The man and woman ratio of Edo was known as 7 ; 3.
Broken speech and quarrel on the liquor were daily happening.
Edo might be Western town in Hollywood cinema.

sakuo renku
boruto no kazu ni sorowanu natsuto

excess number of bolt
not match to less nut

Friday, December 28, 2007

cherry blossom shade

一茶 1810年
hana no kage waga wa kitsune ni bakasareshi

David’s English
cherry blossom shade--
a fox spirit
has enchanted me!

by Issa, 1810

sakuo haiga

Thursday, December 27, 2007

my sleepy mind

一茶  1793年 31歳
ne-gokoro ni hana wo kazoeru amayo kana

David’s English
my sleepy mind
counting cherry blossoms...
a rainy night

by Issa, 1793

David's comment
Shinji Ogawa notes that this haiku alludes a famous Chinese poem, "A Spring Morning," by Meng Haoran (691-740). Shinji translates: I awake in the late morning of spring The bird songs are all around me I might hear the storm in the night I wonder how many blossoms have fallen

sakuo haiga

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

deer in love

一茶 1822年  60歳
shika naku ya kawa wo hedatete shinobu koi

David translation
they cry to each other
across a river
deer in love

by Issa, 1822 Age 60

sakuo haiga

Friday, December 14, 2007


一茶 1803年
tsuwamono ga ashi no ato ari keshi no hana

David's English and comment
in the footprints
of the warrior...

Issa, 1803 age 41 live in Edo.
He had journeyed around the northern district of Edo, getting acquaintance with Akimoto,
his biggest sponsor as well as best haiku friend.
At this time he was leaving from old Haiku sect that has come
from Basho.

The warrior is Basho himself or Basho’s famous haiku "summer grasses.../ all the remains/ of warriors・dreams."

If so, the footprint is Basho’s evidence that shows Basho has come here. The evidence is a monument stone that is carved with the above “summer grasses…”
There were many such stones in near Edo.

Why poppy is picked up instead of “summer grasses”
The flower is a drug so that it brings instant happiness of dream.

sakuo renku
芭蕉の句碑や 夢の魔の花
bashyo n kuhi ya yume no ma no hana

Bashou’s monument and
dreamy drug flowers

sakuo’ English
the warrior’s
footprint is there

Friday, December 07, 2007

cherry blossom

一茶 1818年
hana saku ya date ni kuwaeshi kara giseru

David’s English
cherry blossoms--
playing the dandy, in my mouth
an empty pipe

sakuo comment
This ku comes from Kabuki, Japanese Opera that has started on Edo era
One of famous number is siranami –gonin otoko (white wave 5men)
It is 5 robber’s story , among them there is an actor wearing female dress.
His name is Benten-kozou,
He stout famous phrase with pipe under cherry blossom.
Issa made this ku, imaging this drama.

Monday, December 03, 2007

young leaves

一茶 1822年
yama-zato ya mainichi hi nichi wakare-jimo

David’s English
mountain village--
every day, day after day
the last frost

sakuo Renku
syoka to dama sare kareru wakai ha

deceived that early summer has come
young leaves die

Thursday, November 29, 2007

dog and inscet

一茶 1816
yama inu no ana no naka yori kirigirisu

David’s English
crawling out
the wild dog's hole...
a katydid

Issa, 1816  Age 54

sakuo Renku
inu to mushi to no myouna nijyuusou

dog and insect
strange duet

Monday, November 26, 2007


一茶  1821
deku-deku to nomi make senu ya inaka neko

David’s English
trudging along
enduring his fleas...
country cat

Issa, 1821 Age 54.
7 years has passed from his marriage.
Issa was tired of his wife.

sakuo renku 連句
ara ga mie kuru ketsukon hiti nen

her defect appearing
after 7 year’s marriage

Friday, November 23, 2007

morning frost

一茶  1820
asa shimo ya shikamo kodomo no o-hana uri

David’s English
morning frost--
yet still a child
sells flowers

Issa, 1820 age 58.
Last June his first daughter died

sakuo 連句
aru dake katsute musume no haka he

buy all her flowers
to daughter’s grave

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

60 years old

manroku no haru to nari keri kado no yuki

David’s English
some "proper spring"
this is!
snow at the gate

by Issa 1822

This first haiku of the year has a prescript in which Issa claims that Gautama Buddha, waking up one morning and seeing the light of the stars, came to a realization that he had been living in sin for the previous forty-nine years. Issa, though he now has reached his own sixtieth year, declares that he is too set in his ways to change. He will remain a fool, he declares. See Makoto Ueda, Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2004) 140. Issa doesn't mention his age in the haiku itself. It is springtime, but winter's snow is still piled up at the gate, suggesting that Issa, like the weather, has not changed. Manroku is an old word that signifies propriety, justice, or fairness; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1547.

sakuo translation
60 years old
my new spring
snow at my gate

Issa, 1822 age 60.
According Japanese custom, people celebrate the age of 60 years,
because animal calendar year is consisted by 12 kind of animals.
After 5 around, 60 years has passed. 60 years is believed lucky circle of long life.
People celebrate the 60 years old as happy being.
満六 manroku means [ full 60 years old ]. The celebration is called [kanreki 還暦]

mother cat

一茶 1823
onna neko ko yue no nusumi toku nige yo

David’s English
mother cat
steals for her kittens...
run faster!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

millet cake

一茶 1818
hie mochi ni ankina haru ga kitari keri

David’s translation
with cold rice cake
a peaceful spring
rolls in

sakuo’s translation
[ankina] has double meaning. One is peaceful. Another is an [ anko, 餡子、bean-paste] and kina [kinako,黄な粉,soybean flour]
[hie] is not cold but barn millet. It means Issa’s poor life.

with millet cake
sweet spring
has come

Issa 1818, Age 56
Fifth Month, 4th day, a daughter, Sato, is born.

sakuo renku
anko ya kinako hara ni kodakara

bean-paste and soybean flour
in stmoch treasure baby

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

pebbles pounding

一茶 1816
ko-bisashi ya jari utsu yo^na aki [no] ame

David’s English
like pebbles pounding
the eaves...
autumn rain

sakuo Renku
oya-tori no minna sariyukishi aki arashi

parent birds
all gone away
autumn storm

Sunday, November 11, 2007

the love cat

一茶  1821
koi neko ya osore-itaru hairiguchi

David’s English
the lover cat
filled with remorse
at my door

sakuo Renku
omoigakenaku aku amado kana

unexpectedly open
a sliding shutter

Saturday, November 10, 2007

wearing umbrella

一茶 1823
hito-bito [ya] kasa kite hana no kumo ni iru

David's English
wearing umbrella-hats
they enter the blossom

sakuo Renku
ame no yamamiti sakura mankai

mountain road in rain
cherry blossoms in full bloom

Thursday, November 08, 2007

temple blossoms

tera no hana hariai mo naku chiri ni keri

David’s English
the temple blossoms
without struggle

Issa, 1822 60 years old.
He has lost three babies till this time

sakuo renku
sannin no kodomo no haka ni sakura tiru

on the graves
of three children
cherry blossom falling

next room

tsugi no ma no andon de neru yo samu kana

David’s English
by the next room's lamplight
I sleep...
a cold night

sakuo renku
ware ha hitori ne tonari ha futari

mines single bed
next double bed

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

night mist

小林 一茶 1819年 57歳
yûgiri ya uma no oboeshi hashi no ana

David’s English
night mist--
the horse remembers
the bridge's hole

sakuo renku
otizu ni sunde mata kiri no naka

without dropping
again into the mist

Friday, November 02, 2007

the penny toss hole

一茶 1812年
ana ichi no ana kashimashi ya hana no kage

David’s English
an uproar 'round
the penny toss hole...
blossom shade

sakuo paint

Thursday, November 01, 2007

gums for grinders

一茶 1813年
surikogi no yo^na haguki mo hana no haru

David’s English
with gums for grinders
greeting the blossoming

by Issa, 1813

Literally, his gums are "like pestles" (surikogi no yo^na). Though he may be missing teeth, Issa greets the new year, new spring with excitement.

sakuo paint

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

secluded house

一茶 1816年54歳
kakurega ya nichi-nichi kusa wa wakaku naru

David’s English
secluded house--
day after day more
baby grass

sakuo paint

Monday, October 29, 2007

for people

小林 一茶 1808年 46歳
hito ni hito kagashi ni kagashi hi no kuru[ru]

David’s English
for people
and for scarecrows
the day ends

sakuo renku

Sunday, October 28, 2007

over the wall

小林一茶 1825年 63歳
ganchoo ni juu nembutsu no yukiki kana

David’s English
on New Year's morning
the prayers to Buddha
come and go

by Issa, 1825 age 63.

It has 5 months passed since his divorce with his second wife.
he was in sick, paralytic.
On new years day he pray Budda, hearing his step brother also
praying too. Because they live side by side in one house, separating
with the wall.

sakuo renku and renga

Saturday, October 27, 2007

on New Year's morning

by Issa, 1825 Age 64.

This haiku refers to the nembutsu (namu amida butsu): a prayer of thanksgiving for, and praise of, Amida Buddha's saving grace. Eons ago, Amida promised that all who rely on his saving power will be reborn in the Pure Land (the Western Paradise). According to Shinji Ogawa, the word ju^ nembutsu refers to a Buddhist scripture of that name.
I assume that it refers to a recitation of namu amida butsu ten times in a row. In any case, I took "ten" out of my translation, because this doesn't add much significance for the English speaking reader:
"ten prayers to Buddha" is now "the prayers to Buddha."

Tr. David Lanoue


Here is more about the Amida Prayer.

To recite it 10 times each morning as a practise of the devoted believer.


Friday, October 26, 2007

midwinter bathing

小林 一茶.寒垢離や首のあたりの水の月
kangori ya kubi no atari no mizu no tsuki

David’s English
midwinter bathing--
his head, the moon
in the water

During the midwinter purification ceremony, a bather's bald head takes the place of the moon in the water.


Gabi’s information.
Read more about the winter ascetic practices of Japan >

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

frost-killed grass

小林一茶  1819年 57歳
shimogare ya gofun no hagashi tsuchi dango

David’s English
frost-killed grass--
whitewash peeling off
the mud dumpling

sakuo comment
1819 the most sad year of Issa.
His daughter was affected by smallpox.
As the general custom,he pray fox god,
offering the mud dumpling.
If the sickness would be recovered, the mud
would be painted whitewash.
But she died.

sakuo renku
剥がれて吾が子 あの世へ旅立つ
hagarete wagako anoyo he tabidatu

peeling off
she gone to the other world

Monday, October 15, 2007

the hot spring's steam

一茶  1821年
onsen no keburu kiwa yori taue kana

David’s English
touched by
the hot spring's steam...
planting rice

sakuo renku
湯治に辛い 田植え歌かな
touji ni turai taueuta kana

bitter to my bath treatment
rice planting song

Monday, October 08, 2007


Issa’s haiku 1819
yokonori no uma no tsuzuku ya yu^gasumi

David’s English
riding sidesaddle
one by one...
evening mist

sakuo back verse
dokohe iku yara tabi no gekidan

where going
travel drama group

Saturday, October 06, 2007

clining to the wall

sakuo front verse
sini wakare hitori ne no dekinu tyoutyo kana

dead separation
couldn’t sleep alone

Issa haiku 1824
hotto shite kabe ni sugaru ya yu^ ko cho^

David’s English
clinging to the wall
with relief, evening's
little butterfly

sakuo back verse
kabe ha mituki de tyou to owakare

after three months
the wall good-by to
the butterfly

Sunday, September 30, 2007

draining the rice field

一茶 1818年落し水鰌も滝を上る也
otoshi mizu dojo^ mo taki wo noboru nari

David’s English
draining the rice field--
a loach also
climbs the rapids

sakuo renku
jyuku he kayou ko yuuyake koyake

glowing sunset, declining sunset
attending to a private school

Saturday, September 29, 2007

fly umbrella

kasa no hae ware yori saki e kakeirinu

David’s English
the fly on my umbrella-hat
beats me

by Issa, 1819

sakuo renku
sakini yadoya de osusi tyumon

order first at the inn
Origa’s Sush

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

mountain's red leaves

一茶  1792年

yama momiji irihi wo sora e kaesu kana

David’s English

mountain's red leaves
the setting sun returns
to the sky

sakuo video

Saturday, September 22, 2007

bathing in the fallen

小林 一茶  1815年
chiru ume wo zaburi to abite naku kawazu

David’s English
bathing in the fallen
plum blossoms...
the croaking frog

by Issa, 1815
Last year spring he marries Kiku 28 years.
On the summer and autumn he went to Edo, coming
back at the end of the year.
Next spring time, bathing haiku was made

sakuo renku
春のデュエット クライマックス
haru no duetsuto kuraimatsukusu

spring duet
reach a climax

Friday, September 21, 2007

the harvest moon

小林 一茶 1810
meigetsu ya kyo^ wa anata mo isogashiki

David’s English
harvest moon--
tonight even you
are busy!

David comment
Is Issa implying that the moon is occupied with business elsewhere and therefore is unable to appear (i.e. it's a cloudy night)? Shinji Ogawa assisted with this translation.

sakuo renku
Issa 1810, age 48 staying in Edo. He was busy at Haiku activity.

kakuti no ren no tsukimi ni yobare

invited to moon party
by every haiku groups

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the chicken

小林 一茶 1822
niwatori no kaki-ideshitaru kinoko kana

David’s English
the chicken
scratches up
a mushroom

David’s comment
In Japanese as in English, this haiku reads as a simple declarative sentence that depicts, in simple terms, a simple scene. Is it too simple, too mundane to be considered poetry? Or is it poetry precisely because of its simplicity, because of Issa's patient attention to a here-and-now scene that others might overlook? The reader must decide.


At 1822, Issa age 60.
After 8 year’s marriage three babies had lost.
The fourth baby was week.
Having aftereffect of paralysis, he wished a strong baby as his heir,
For increase of love energy he has eagerly collected medical herb.

yakusou non de waga take genkini

drink medical herb
refresh my mushroom

Sunday, September 16, 2007

first geese

Issa, 1808
On November after long dispute the treaty settled among his families.
Geese come from north for passing winter.
They visit the poor town because they could glean ears of rice after finishing harvest.
The poor is the town, the fast harvest finish and the fast geese come.

sakuo Renku
fuyu mata hayaku kibishii kurasi

winter comes fast
and severe life

Thursday, September 13, 2007


小林 一茶 1815年
kebutaku mo io wo hanare na naku chidori

David’s English
though it's smoky
don't leave my hut!
singing plover

Kebutai or kebutashi is an old word meaning to suffocate on smoke; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 570.

sakuo inspired.
Plover is Kiku, Issa’s young wife.
1814, Age 52,
April married with Kiku at age 28.
August went to Edo for Haiku business, stayed till the end of the year.
December went back home.
Again leaving young wife,
September went to Edo.
December backed to home.

tonari no baasan kiku ijimeru na

granny next door
don’t disturb Kiku

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

spring butterfly

一茶 1814年52歳
haru no cho^ o^sakazuki wo mata name yo

David’s English
spring butterfly
at the big sake cup...
sip again!

Issa, 1814, age 52.
Married with 28 years young bride named Kiku
Kiku is a flower, so butterfly is Issa. Sake-cup means female organ.

sakuo renku
tosiyori muko no okosi ga tatazu

old bridegroom
being unable to stand up

Sunday, September 09, 2007

decorating the dog

Issa 1808 age 46.

David English translation

sakuo renku
Bush clover is one of representatives of autumn blooms.
From old times many poems have been created.
Of course Issa well knew it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

three days waiting

Issa, 1818, Age 56
yu^dachi wo mikka matasete mi tsubu kana

David's English
three days waiting
for this cloudburst...
three drops

sakuo renku
yonaka ni o-ame awatete gyouzui

heavy rain in mid night
rush to shower

Sunday, September 02, 2007

whose palanquin?

by Issa, 1820

David’s comment
Some rich person being carried in a palanquin orders steaming hot buckwheat noodles being sold by a street vendor. Shinji Ogawa explains that the ni ("two") and hachi ("eight") in the name derive from the fact that these noodles were made with 20% flour and 80% buckwheat.

GABI’s info,.
More about the palanquin in Japan

sakuo renku
Who did ride on the palanquin?
I think it is a Gesya girl who has been called.

Monday, August 27, 2007

cold cold

Issa,original 1803
kaze samushi samushi samushi to gwato^ kana

David's English and comment
"The wind
is cold! cold! cold!"
ceramic lamp

Issa imagines that his "ceramic lamp" (to^sei) is speaking ... and complaining.

Gabi’s information on gwato^瓦当
gatou mon'you 瓦当文様

sakuo aditinal