Hasegawa Kai — Haiku Selections

Richard Gilbert and Itô Yûki (trans.)

May 31, 2007


Hasegawa Kai (長谷川 1954 - )
Personal selections from gendai haiku no kanshô 101 [An appreciation of 101 gendai haiku poets]
(Hasegawa Kai, ed., Tokyo: Shinshokan, 2001, pp. 208-09.)











haru no mizu towa nurete iru mizu no koto



water of spring

as water wetted

   water, as is




Hasegawa comments.
Almost anything in this world can be wetted by water. However, the one thing that cannot be wetted in this way is water itself. Although water wets other things but cannot itself be wetted, I nonetheless intuit that the water of spring, uniquely, has a special quality in that it can be wetted — though it too is water.







fuyu fukashi hashira no naka no nami no oto



deep winter

   within the pillar

      the rushing of waves



Hasegawa comments.
Following my university graduation, I began to work as a newspaper reporter in Niigata city. Toward the southwest is the seaside town of Izumozaki, which is the location where Bashô stayed, on a journey he described in The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Oku no hoso michi); there, Bashô penned this haiku:


荒 海や佐渡によこたふ天の川

araumi ya sado ni yokotau amanogawa


the turbulent sea —

extending to sado isle

the milky way


In this place in the winter, strong north winds blow all day and enormous dark waves crash upon the seashore. At night, within the dwellings, each massive main pillar resounds due to the roaring sea, whose waves emanate sonically through the ground.


[Note: For some 1000 years or more Sado Island was an isolate place of exile for those who had been deposed, disgraced, or were considered a threat by those in power.]








natsu no yami tsuru o kakaete yuku gotoku



summer dark

a red-crowned crane, cradled

as if on my way







hizakari no kono yo o sugite chô kieshi



in this world

of blazing summer sun

a butterfly disappears







hasaki yori yubi ni sukitoru hotaru kana



from the vertex of a leaf

combed into fingers, firefly







take katte tsuki no hikari ni utase ari



 cutting bamboo       moon-light          striking