Issa’s Floating World

June 13th, 2007

Three cutouts by Kyoko Yanagisawa from Issa-Haiku: A Collection of 17-syllable Poem with Cutout-picture (Fujin-sha, 1996), with depicted haiku of Kobayashi Issa, as translated by Takahiko Sakai.

“I sincerely hope young mothers will inscribe Issa’s haiku on their children’s memory using these playing cards as an intermediary. I believe the haiku in the cards will, without fail, give them heart and soul at the turning points in their life” (p111-2).

Priestless temple

“In the grounds of the priestless temple,
The cherry blossoms come out,
With their strength putting forth to the full” (p34).

Buckwheat noodles

“Now is the best season to eat buckwheat noodles
On your way to and from Zenkoji Temple in the province of Shinano,
Noted for the moon mirrored in each section of the paddy fields” (p48).

Wild geese

“Wild geese,
Don’t cry;
Life is the same wherever you may go” (p54).

Or, as Lewis Mackenzie translates in The Autumn Wind:

“Wild Geese, hush your cry!
Wherever you go it is the same —
The Floating World!” (p76).

A few more Issa’s, translated by Lucien Stryk in The Dumpling Field:

“Moist spring moon –
raise a finger
and it drips” (p11).

“Sundown —
Under cherry blooms
Men scurry home (p13).”

“Old pillar,
sized by
a spanworm” (p14).

“Dawn — fog
of Mt. Asama spreads
on my table” (p61).

“My thinning hair,
eulalia grass,
rustling together” (p67).

“Bright moon,
welcome to my hut —
such as it is” (p72).

2 Responses to “Issa’s Floating World”

  1. ServiceBerriesRule Says:

    Food and woodcuts. Now I’m hungry for some udon.


  2. Sarah Says:

    Lovely woodcuts and even lovelier haiku.

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