Haiku translations: a collaboration between Emiko Miyashita, Claudia Brefeld and Eva Moering
"Here the idea and background of this project can be found.
Selection and commenting on
SEIAN Mizuno, HIA Director
hatsuseri ya / hanarenu koushi ni / wazukana ne
The first auction –
a low price for the calf
that stays with me
永井玲子 NAGAI Reiko
Growing up near a facility that traded horses and cattle, I was acutely aware of the impending fate of newborn cows in the slaughterhouse. The preciousness of life and the karmic relationship between man and livestock is particularly represented in “a low price,” implying man's guilt for his role.
tenjyō ni / kunizakai nashi / tako odoru
in the sky -
Birds flying effortlessly through the sky are in stark contrast to tourists who are bound by laws and regulations when crossing international borders. Flying kites symbolize peace, but like travelers, they are somewhat limited as they are controlled by a taut rope.
hatsuchō no / konshin to iu / takasa kana
A butterfly flutters
not so high, but with all my might
the first this spring
白根順子 SHIRANE Junko
The joy and wonder at the beginning of spring are symbolized in the haiku by the “first butterfly”. A butterfly emerging from its cocoon in spring is restless and tense. “Not so high, but with all our might” underlines the vulnerability of a newly hatched butterfly and its intimate connection to the people who admire it.
Au-delá du Pacifique
On y va chaser des demons
en retard d'un jour (original)
umi no mukou / hitohi okure no/ oniyarai*
Beyond the Pacific
We will hunt demons there
a day late
望月吉々 MOCHIZUKI Yoshi-Yoshi
Beginning of spring in the Japanese calendar. The link leads to a performance in Kyoto. It takes place all over Japan, and each family performs the mame-maki/tsuina (expelling the oni demons by throwing roasted soybeans at them in front of their house) in a small circle. The haiku likely refers to Tsuina delayed by a day due to the International Date Line.
Every year on the evening of February 3rd (setsubun), Japanese families hold “demon hunting,” an ancient tradition in which dry soybeans are thrown into their homes. These “lucky beans” are supposed to drive away bad luck (the “demon”) from the house and thus attract good luck. Due to the time difference, they may not be able to celebrate on the same day as families living in Japan, but many Japanese families living abroad still enjoy “Demon Chasing.”
in all their vibrance
a touch of melancholy (original)
sumiregusa / yuragiainagara / ichimatsu no urei
in all its liveliness
a touch of melancholy
MACHMILLER, Patricia J. (USA)
This reminds me of William Wordsworth's “A Violet on a Mossy Stone. Half-hidden from the eye!”, which I greatly appreciated during my school years. The beauty of violets in nature is fleeting, just as our youth fades. People in Eastern and Western cultures have a penchant for these fleeting symbols of tenderness, which are often associated with melancholy.
And here are five more haiku - selected by Emiko Miyashita
A spider thread
on the path—
an invisible bondage. (original)
komichi no kumo no ito ya / mienu / sokubaku
A spider thread
on the way -
an invisible bondage.
Ba, Bold（Inner Mongolia）
yawarakaki / tsuchi no uneune / tori no koe
Bump after bump
made of soft earth...
the birds are singing
hanaikada/ seku mo yasumu mo/ yosei kana
Flower raft* –
free to rush or not
for the rest of life
坂田節子 SAKATA Setsuko
*Fallen cherry blossom petals on the surface of the water are called flower floats. A seasonal word for spring.
harukaze ya / biru no ma ni mata / sarachi fue
spring wind –
an increase in vacant lots
between the buildings
月城花風 TSUKISHIRO Kafu
kan* no ame / kyō mo kashiya ni / nagaki retsu
a long line today too
at the candy store
内村恭子 UCHIMURA Kyoko
*Kan (寒) is a 30-day period before the first day of spring (February 4 in the Chinese lunar calendar, which we used before adopting the Gregorian calendar); it is considered the coldest time of the year.