Friday, August 29, 2008

slow slow

一茶 1820年
kuragari no ushi wo hikidasu hinaga kana

David’s English
leading a cow
from the dark barn...
the day is long

by Issa, 1820
Shinji Ogawa translates kuragari no ushi as "leading out a cow from a dark place." I have substituted "barn" in an attempt to make Issa's image concrete in English. Is this adding too much?

sakuo haiga
slow slow.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

shoot me?

一茶 1824年
oi-dori no fusoku no toko e kitsune kana

David’s English
heading for where bird hunters are few... the fox
by Issa, 1824
The fox doesn't know that the hunters are only after birds.

sakuo haiga
Shoot me?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

down to two leaves

一茶 1806年
futaba kara asagao sabishi haru no shimo

David’s English
down to two leaves

the lonely morning-glory...

spring frost

by Issa, 1806 age 44, live in Edo.

sakuo haiga
Issa is out of Basho’s mainstream and begin to make his own haiku.It’s his destiny.

Monday, August 25, 2008


一茶 1794年

sukumo-bi ya kagashi no hate mo yu^ keburi

David’s English

a scarecrow also ends up
in evening's smoke

by Issa, 1794
I orginally translated sukumo-bi as "peat fire," but Shinji Ogawa thinks "bonfire" is better. Sukumo-bi, he writes, is a bonfire of weathered weeds.

sakuo haiga

The glory’s end

Sunday, August 24, 2008

snowy road

一茶 1819年
yuki no michi kata kata tokete yami ni keri

David’s English
snowy road--
on one side
melting to nothing

by Issa, 1819

sakuo haiga
Happy sunny side and,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

accompanying the rain

一茶 1809年
murasame wo o de ashiraishi kigisu kana

David’s English
accompanying the rain
with its tail...
a pheasant

by Issa, 1809

sakuo haiga
Come on !

Friday, August 22, 2008

temple guard

一茶 1818年
do^mori ga hito ni yoitaru sakura kana

David’s English
the temple guard
sick from the crowds...
cherry blossoms

by Issa, 1818

sakuo haiga

Thursday, August 21, 2008

cat's love calls

一茶 1812年
neko naku ya naka nagaruru sumida-gawa

David’s English
cats' love calls--
between them flows
Sumida River

by Issa, 1812

Shinji Ogawa helped me to visualize what is happening in this haiku: two cats ready for lovemaking separated by the wide river. Following almost immediately in Issa's journal is this verse: edo neko no awatadashisa yo sumida-gawa the Edo cat in a frenzy... Sumida River

sakuo haiga
Sumida River is wide, like as Thames, Moscow and Hudson,
Love call can’t reach at other bank.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

flowering rape

一茶 1790年代
na no hana ni dara-dara ori no higure kana

David’s English
in flowering rape
step by step sinking...

by Issa
This is an early haiku written in the 1790s. Rape (or canola) is a bright yellow flowering plant of Asia.

sakuo haiga
Rape is cultivated on river bank and in rice field as a second corp.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

back window

一茶 1820年
ura mado ya shika no kidori ni inu no koe

David’s English
back window--
the deer strikes a pose
the dog barks

by Issa, 1820

sakuo haiga
Wife is busy at caring baby.

Monday, August 18, 2008


一茶 1814年
aiso^ ya nobe no kusa sae waka-zakari

David’s English
even the meadow grasses
hit their peak young

by Issa, 1814
Aiso^ or aiso denotes; amiability, affability. These English equivalents sound too cold for this context; I hope that "lovely" expresses Issa's warm and tender feeling toward the young grasses.

sakuo haiga
1814, Age 52
Fourth Month, Issa marries with Kiku.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

first sky

一茶 1811年
hatsu-zora no moyo^ ni tateru keburi kana

David’s English
rising into
the year's first sky...

by Issa, 1811

sakuo haiga
From the year end to New Year’s days, for three weeks Issa stayed in Sairin-Ji
Temple, and enjoyed haiku meeting with good friends.

Friday, August 15, 2008

bamboo shoot

一茶 1819年
takenoko to shinayoku asobe suzume no ko

David’s English
bamboo shoots, baby sparrows
play together

by Issa, 1819
Issa's word, shinayoku, seems to be a variant of shinayaka: graceful, elegant, delicate. In his haiku, he tells the baby bamboo and baby sparrows to play together delicately, gracefully.

sakuo haiga
Why did Issa order baby sparrows to play gently?
Because a bamboo baby was his beloved daughter.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the farting contest

一茶 1816年
he kurabe ga mata hajimaru zo fuyugomori

David’s English
the farting contest
begins again...
winter seclusion

by Issa, 1816

sakuo haiga

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

autumn evening

一茶 1790年代
yama mite mo umi mite [mo] aki no yu^be kana

David’s English
looking at the mountain
looking at the sea...
autumn evening

by Issa
This is an early haiku written in the 1790s.

sakuo haiga

radishes blooming

no daiko mo hana to nari keri naku hibari

David’s English
even the field's
radishes blooming...
the lark singing!

by Issa
Originally, I had the radishes "becoming flowers," but Shinji Ogawa points out that radishes, being roots, do not themselves bloom.

sakuo haiga
Sometimes the healthy leg of young woman is compared with radish.

Monday, August 11, 2008

at a six-way

一茶 1819年
roku do^ no tsuji ni tachi keri kare obana

David’s English
standing at a six-way
in the withered grass

by Issa, 1819
This haiku alludes to the "Six Ways" of possible future life reincarnation:  輪廻(りんね)(転生) (1) as a sufferer in hell, (2) as a hungry ghost, (3) as an animal, (4) as an angry demon, (5) as a human being, or (6) as a saint in the Western Paradise.
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sakuo haiga

Saturday, August 09, 2008

the man's child

hito no ko ya u wo asobasuru kusa no hana

David's English
the man's child
tends to the cormorant...
Or: "cormorants." Japanese fishermen use cormorants. Tied to a tether, these sea birds dive for fish that they are forced to disgorge. The verb asobasuru, which I initially thought had to do with playing, means "attend to" in this context, according to Shinji Ogawa.

sakuo haiga
The father fisherman let the bird work very hard.
The son of fisherman innocently plays with the bird.
Both belong to human characteristic.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

outdoing the cormorant

一茶 1819年
u no mane wa u yori jyo^zu-na kodomo kana

David’s English
outdoing the cormorant
with a fine imitation...
a child
by Issa, 1819
Japanese fishermen use cormorants. Tied to a tether, these sea birds dive for fish that they are forced to disgorge.
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sakuo haiga
As the cormorant do, poor street boy ask money from walker
but his money is robbed by his parent.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

just as you are

一茶 1821年
sore nari ni narubutsu itase ana no hebi

David’s English

just as you are
become Buddha!
snake in your hole

by Issa, 1821
Robin D. Gill assisted with this translation. Snakes entering their holes is an autumn season word. The editors of Issa zenshu^ speculate that by narubutsu Issa means jo^butsu (Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79, 1.535). Shinji Ogawa comments, "It may seem very odd, but inferring from this haiku, Issa might not know about the snake's hibernation. He regards, at least so it seems, the snakes that go back to their holes as if they are going into the graveyard to die."

# visit

sakuo haiga
1821, Age 59, already lost two babies, and this year second son died.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

hey sparrows

一茶 1814年
suzume-ra yo sho^ben muyo^ furu fusuma

David’s English
hey sparrows
no pissing on my old
winter quilt!

by Issa, 1814

sakuo haiga
1814, Age 52
Fourth Month, 11th day, he marries Kiku.

Monday, August 04, 2008

maiden flowers

一茶 1815年
nemushiro ya tabako fukakeru ominaeshi

David’s English
sleeping mat--
pipe smoke wafts over
the maiden flowers

by Issa, 1815 ,

sakuo Haiga

Sunday, August 03, 2008

roses of Sharon

一茶 1804年
futairana kaki mo mukuge wa saki ni keri

David’s English
an unlevel hedge, too
in bloom...
roses of Sharon

by Issa, 1804
Kaki can be translated as "fence" or "hedge." Since Issa is referring to blooming shrubs, the latter translation fits here.
# visit

sakuo haiga

Saturday, August 02, 2008

cool breeze

一茶 1815年
suzukaze ya ai ni aioi no semi no koe

David’s English
cool breeze--
growing up together
the cicadas sing

by Issa, 1815
Sumiyoshi is a Shinto shrine in Osaka.

sakuo kaiga
1815, aged 53, last year he married with 28 young bride. It was his happiest time.
The second phrase comes from popular wedding song, Takasago that is very old and traditional song.
It means happy couple will get old together till the hairs become white.

Friday, August 01, 2008


一茶 1813年
takasago ya oni oi-dasu mo hanuke-goe

David’s English
shouting away demons
a toothless one too

by Issa, 1813
Takasago is famous for pine tree-covered islands. During the end-of-year bean-scattering ritual, it is a custom to shout, "Luck indoors, demons begone!" In this haiku, someone without teeth joins in the shouting. This could be a self-portrait, since Issa lost his last tooth two years earlier, in 1811.

sakuo haiga
1813, Age 51
Second Month, Issa is living in Kashiwabara in a rented house for father’s asset.
Bean-scattering ritual was held at this time.