■ Greetings        

Now and Today

Kiyoko Uda
President, Modern Haiku Association

Kiyoko Uda President, Modern Haiku Association     The Modern Haiku Association was established in September during the 22nd year of Showa. Hakyo Ishida, Sanki Saito and Hideo Kanda prepared the first draft, with the approval of other leading haijin at that time. There were only 38 founding members. Some of the most famous members were: Hakyo Ishida, who published Amaohi at 34; Sanki Saito, who published Yoru no Momo at 47. All the founding members were under 50, with Seishi Yamaguci and Kusatao Nakamura being the eldest members. The ages of those founding members were connected to the situation surrounding the establishment of the Modern Haiku Association.

    In the chaos just after the defeat in World War, these haijin, in an effort to uplift themselves and the people, decided to make the haiku better amongst the hardship of every day life.

    When the Modern Haiku Association was initially established, the annual membership fee was 20 yen. I can remember in those days I could find a newspaper for 20 yen, a crayon for 20 yen, etc. Though I was only 11 years old, I knew my mother was saving money to buy such things.

    It seemed that one had to be highly qualified to be a part of the association. Even if it was easy to become a member and someone was talented at haiku, mothers would not pay 20 yen for something they wanted to do, or attend kukai and those kinds of meetings. They'd pay 20 yen for something the family needed.

    Under such constraints, it took 5 or 6 years for membership to reach 100 since the Association founding date. Among these members were several females such as Teijo Nakamura and Takako Hashimoto, who were among the first members; and Natsujo Yamaguchi, Chiyoko Kato, Nobuko Katsura, Ayako Hosomi, and Takajo Mitsuhashi. These 7 women left behind a legacy of excellent work in haiku history.

    It is impressive that among"a men-only environment", these women, born during the Meiji or Taisho period, wanted to talk about and share haiku's with each other. They set a place 'josei haiku' where any woman could contribute even if she belonged to a different haiku group.

    By the end of the 20th century, the 'josei haiku' was dissolved. I remember Nobuko Katsura said on the last day of 'josei haiku'"that the time was over when only women spoke about haiku's with each other." Ms Katsura was also concerned that their goal might change from their initial aim and if the meetings were continued, it would become something totally different.

    It is natural that times change. Now, there are a lot of things around us and in the world, which we could not have predicted 10 or 20 years ago. It is also natural that times will continue to change, and there will be many other new things in the future.

It should be our method that we create haiku which match the times. This is not a new idea and was prevalent in the old days; even Sanki Saito wrote about it before the association existed. Sanki believed:     "To the difficult question 'what is new?', I will answer: the new means how the emotions of today's society and people are expressed to fit the times. The haiku must be innovative in any time. So we should begin and continue to express the emotions of the people of this time and generation."
(Gendai Haiku, S.21.10)

    Sanki's belief is agreeable with Hakyo's idea, that"the spirit of haiku verse must be thoroughly completed." In Hakyo's message of condolence on Sanki, I remember, there was a passage in which he said that while sitting on the floor of a full train bound for Tokyo, they talked about the establishment of the Modern Haiku Association throughout the night.

    Today, the things happening around us cannot be solved only by Japan which is only one part of the Earth. I'm afraid that there may lurk anxiety in the emotion of today's people. How long can we live peacefully with people we love? Can our children and grandchildren be blessed with fresh mountains and rivers?

    The haiku is not a literature which accuses something or someone; but when I think about such things and Sanki's message that we should begin to express the emotion of the people in this time−I believe that is the reason haiku were created.

    We have been involved in haiku since the Showa Era after World War; and this indulgence has offered a kind of festival or celebration. Now in the midst of this festival and afterwards, there are still a lot of problems, though seemingly buried, that won't end unless we begin to solve them.

    The haiku work of our great ancestors‐who lived during the time of the Showa Era, the will of the dead‐who could not succeed involuntarily, and the attempts of the minority‐who were not in the main stream; they should not be buried. Unless we start to think about them, our youth will be perplexed.

    Whatever association one belongs to, though someone can spend time composing haiku with others joyfully, one should complete one's own haiku in privacy. To improve the standards of the haiku overall, we should come together, as many ideas foster better understanding and solutions.

    There are many problems to tackle within our world. As of yet I have not decided, which problem to focus on completely. Problems are plentiful but solutions are often few. With our resources I wish to effectively tackle a problem in which the haiku can be a catalyst for change. In the short future, I will present my plans to you and I hope all will help to carry them out.

    Fortunately, the Modern Haiku Association has branches from Hokkaido to Okinawa. While we have friendships and coeducation in this association, I believe, we should do more to involve every member in every area.

(English Translation: Akiko Takazawa)

Modern Haiku Association
Kairaku bldg. 7th floor, Sotokanda 6-5-4 Chiyoda-ku,Tokyo, JAPAN 101-0021
Fax:0081-3-3839-8191 Email: gendaihaiku@bc.wakwak.com