winterhaiku Nov 8, 2011

Since I first read AABS's writeup, I was intrigued. No Japanese? Questionable authorship? Had it been misattributed to a prolific haiku artist, as many quotes are to famous figures like Shakespeare, Einstein, and Jesus? I employed Google to no avail. I asked other noders to no avail, although mauler informed me that Basho didn't live in the 14th century. And so a note sat deep in my writing folder---until today. Google came through this time, and the author was named Nakamura Kusatao:


fuyu sude-ni
rohyō ni magau
haka ikki

winter already---
mistaken for a signpost,
a solitary tombstone1

Nakamura (1901-83) studied German literature at the University of Tokyo before going on to publish haiku. His style is referred to as "human exploration".2

He is most famous for "Furu yuki ya Meiji wa toku ni narinikeri" (Snow falls and Meiji is all but a distant memory). He visited his old school, and was struck by what had changed and what had remained the same: "Although he was relieved to find it unchanged, when he saw children in overcoats fastened with golden buttons appear in the school yard as the snow started to fall, he nevertheless felt the passing of time from when he was a boy in kimono and wooden sandals." A monument at the school now bears the verse.

1. Translated by mauler.

2. The haiku handbook: how to write, share, and teach haiku. William J. Higginson, Penny Harter.


linked from:
- deserted train yard
- Goto Islands

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