Learn to create Photo Haiku in Yamagata, JAPAN
～Connecting the World through Photo Haiku～
July 17th, 2017 at Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum
Yamagata city is about a 3-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. Our venue was Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum, located at the base of Yama-dera(Risshaku-ji), the temple Basho visited during his Oku no Hosomichi journey. The museum has a rare collection of various Basho-related items which are always on display. More than 150 haiku fans braved the 30+ degree summer heat to join the event.
Our panel featured HAIKU MASTERS regulars, haiku poet Kazuko Nishimura and Kit Pancoast Nagamura, as well as HAIKU MASTERS in Yamagata special guest, actor Issey Ogata. Moderating the panel was Nelson Babin-Coy, a musician based in Tokyo who also works on HAIKU MASTERS as a translator and interpreter.
The main goal for this event was to spread the wonder of Photo Haiku to both domestic and international audiences straight from Basho’s beloved Yama-dera and Yamagata. First off, we went into detail regarding our Photo Haiku guidelines. If you’re a regular viewer of the program, you’re most likely already familiar with them!
【The 3 Guidelines of Photo Haiku】
- three-line haiku
- fusoku-furi (not too far, not too close)
Here’s a question we received from an attendee.
- Q: I’ve recently started writing haiku in English, but the grammar is very difficult. How should I approach this problem?
- Ａ: (Summarized answer from all of the panelists) How about becoming friends with a native English speaker? Or you could also just forget about correct grammar and just write what you feel. In our program, we receive a lot of English haiku from non-native speakers, and although there may be some grammatical mistakes, sometimes that adds to the appeal of the work as a whole.
Next, our panelists demonstrated their haiku ability with their own Photo Haiku! The challenge was to use photos of Yamagata featured in NHK Yamagata’s social media campaign #ymgt_cool, a campaign that has amassed over 1400 amazing photographs of the Yamagata region. Here are the works our panelists put together!
the best ideas alight
Kit Pancoast Nagamura
tabi hitori entei ni kage ubawarete
the sun god
steals my shadow
cover summer sky
where this world
Even moderator Nelson took on the challenge!
two views ̶
the cicada’s song skips
For the second half of our event, we welcomed another member to the panel, the previous director of the Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum, Mr. Noboru Oba. Mr. Oba introduced the panel and event attendees to some traditional Yamagata delicacies (including frozen kaki, or Japanese persimmons, and chikara konjak, a round konjak cooked in soy sauce) and also went into detail about Basho and Yama-dera.
Afterwards, it was time for our Photo Haiku competition! The theme was shizukasa, which can be roughly translated as “stillness” in English. Let’s take a look at the entries from the 3 competing groups!
Yamagata University Team Agasuke House
film over iris
spreading only my kaleidoscope
Yamagata Prefectural Yamagata West High School English Club Team
tasting the love of your existence
my small heart is a carnival
my sentiment gradually turns red
Association for International Relations in Yamagata CIR Team
the taste of disappointment
we await the spring
And the winning team was…
Association for International Relations in Yamagata CIR Team !
Yamagata University Team Agasuke House :
The photograph is very beautiful. I hope you will be able to use this experience to continue creating Photo Haiku together.
Yamagata Prefectural Yamagata West High School English Club Team :
The sentiment and presentation of the work was full of youthful energy. There is an event called Haiku Koshien where high school students can take part in a haiku competition, so I recommend you all check that out. I’m sure you will all be busy with upcoming exams, but some of the best haiku come to you when you are the busiest.
Association for International Relations in Yamagata CIR Team :
I read into the phrase ‘promises unmet’ as something that refers to a promise between two people in a romantic relationship, but after hearing the story behind it, I realize it was describing a closed-off footbath and the disappointment of someone who was looking forward to using it. I think if you add a little romance to the work, it might improve the overall quality, so maybe you should all try falling in love? Joking aside, it is often quite difficult to write a provocative haiku or poem when you are in a loving relationship. The most effective haiku usually come during times of hardship or when you aren’t sure of what your romantic interest is thinking.
Life is full of moments that can be made into haiku, so please continue creating them! I can’t wait to see what you all come up with next.
The next HAIKU MASTERS special episode and event will take place in the far north, Hokkaido! We are currently looking for event attendees. If Hokkaido is too far for you, then please feel free to attend in spirit by sending in your own Photo Haiku! We can’t wait to see all of your amazing work!
For more details, click here>>
Photo Haiku is an art form to be enjoyed by everyone. Alone or as a group, whenever, wherever. If you find a photo that moves you, make it even more special by adding a haiku! Join the Photo Haiku revolution!
Hope to see you all in Hokkaido!
Yama-dera Temple (Risshaku-ji Temple)
4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata City, Yamagata