Monday, August 7, 2017

Cicadas and Floods

On his trip to the Deep North of Japan in summer of 1689, Haiku Master Basho (1644-1694) visited Tendai sect Temple “Risshakuji” in Yamagata and sang a
 landmark verse:

Ah, such stillness
Cicadas cries
Piercing into the rocks

Could Basho ever imagine his Haiku would incite fierce arguments 300 years later among the literary critics as to which kind of cicada Basho heard?  It was kicked off by Mokichi Saito, the famous poet as well as psychiatrist, who broached that Basho at that site heard the “abura-zemi”(Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata). Toyotaka Komiya, who lived then in Sendai close to Yamagata, strongly opposed it.  Komiya said it couldn’t be the Abura-zemi. It should be “ni-ni-zemi”(Platypleura kaempferi).  Mokichi, reportedly a bad loser (per his son Morio Kita, who followed in his father’s footsteps and was an equally famous writer having won the Akutagawa Prize) challenged Komiya, trying to substantiate his claims. He went back a couple of times in different years but didn’t get the desired answer, due to rain and other causes. After a few attempts, Mokichi himself seemed to have conceded his view at last. Scientists also made similar tries, in vain, after 2000, with the help of Basho’s well kept diary and Haiku, suggesting another kind of cicada, the “higurashi” (Tanna japonensis) adding to the confusion. The dispute is still raging on.

Kevin Short, the Daily Yomiuri columnist “Nature in Short”, whom I admire,  wrote that Japan is a cicada paradise and there are five common species in the lowlands of Japan. The three species above referred to in the Basho controversy are all included.

Today we expect the weather bureau’s declaration of the end of rainy season any moment and the hot summer is due with the arrival of the cicada season in Fukuoka, Kyushu where we live.

Recently, we Fukuokans suffered from the historical torrential rain down south in the mountain valley zones, like Asakura City (Akatani River basin - see Youtube video below), Toho Village and neighboring Hita City (Oita Pref) side-lining people from west to east, causing hundreds of mountain landslides and flooded homes and fields.  The death toll went up to over 30. A real tragic devastation and utter grief beyond description.

Thousands of army forces mobilized immediately to search for the missing using helicopters.

Once the rescue army forces left the flooded sites, volunteers in the thousands arrived daily to help home owners and farmers remove mud, driftwood and debris.

Awful amounts of wood were gouged out from the mountains and it’s probable cicada larvae most likely met with unfortunate disaster. However, I’m sure grief stricken villagers still hear cicadas, same as previous years and may soothe and encourage the survivors that life goes on.

I have a Japanese friend who usually spends his summers in Cameron Highland, Malaysia, 1800 m above sea level. Cameron Highland was discovered late in the 18th Century by an early British colonial and the area was developed as a tea plantation.  It is 200 km north of the capital Kuala Lumpur and 90 km from Ipoh.

Jim Thompson (1906-1967), Thai silk king, had his cottage there, and it’s a mystery how/why he went missing during his stay.  A friend told me Cameron Highland is a mecca for insect hunting, cicadas in particular. It is famous for the world largest cicada, “Tacua speciosa” aka Emperor Cicada!   I found a photo.  The Emperor Cicada covers almost from your elbow to the heel of your hand. Fantastic. What do they sound like?  The sound of a trumpet! Can you believe that?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Haru Reischauer - Part 1

Bridge was the name of the early 1990’s official publication of the San Diego Nihongo Kyoiku Shinkokai (San Diego Association for Japanese Language Promotion), which operated “Minato Gakuen”, a Saturday Japanese School primarily for the Japanese expatriates’ children. Minato Gakuen got jump started in 1979 with less than 40 students and grew to 400 in 10 years after the school's opening. The growth necessitated a search for a larger school facility that can accommodate two dozen classrooms for use on Saturday only. I served as President of the Association when Minato celebrated the 10th Anniversary and acted as Chairman of the School Site Search Commission. I thought of publishing a booklet to reach and communicate with local American schools and was able to distribute it to schools that teach Japanese as a second language. To my surprise, there were more than a dozen American schools teaching Japanese, including La Jolla Country Day School.

As editor, I asked Haru Reischauer, living in La Jolla, to write an introduction for the very first Bridge issue, which she accepted graciously. I edited the second issue but retired from work and left San Diego in 1994 before the issue was published. I received Bridge #2 in Japan by mail. It turned out to be the last issue published since nobody succeeded me as editor. Haru Reischauer passed away in 1998, four years later. The following is her contribution in its entirety.

“As we rapidly approach the 21st Century, we are poised at the threshold of a new international world order. Because Japan and America are presently the two economic superpowers, the relations between OUR two countries will play an essential role in the peaceful development of this new order. This places great responsibilities on Americans and Japanese to strengthen our relationship. We must become more knowledgeable and more appreciative of each others’ language, because through it we cannot help but learn our culture and background.

My family experiences have shown me the importance of language learning. My maternal grandfather, Rioichiro Arai, as a young boy in the early Meiji period, wanted to establish trade with America to sell Japanese silk from our family business. Soon after Japan opened its ports to foreign trade in 1860, learning English came into vogue because it was considered the ‘intellectual currency of the commercial world.’ My grandfather learned English and it enabled him to come to America in 1876, when he was twenty. With diligence and hard work, he succeeded in establishing trade between Japan and America. This trade was not only profitable for Japan’s economy, but it was also the start of the close relationship we have today between our countries.

In the early 1930s in America, just a few years before WWII, my late husband, Edwin O. Reischauer started the Japanese language program at Harvard University. The war accelerated language training for American officers as the future need for communication with the Japanese was realized. Since the war, as relations advanced at a rapid pace, Japanese studies and language courses in colleges and universities have increased throughout America. The large number of students in Japanese studies have formed a reservoir of good will toward Japan, which is the grass roots basis of the relations we have today.

Relations between San Diego and Japan, our closest Pacific neighbor, are rapidly developing. This will play an essential role in the development of the Pacific Rim. In recognition of the importance of this relationship and the urgency to build a bridge of communication across the Pacific, universities, community colleges and even city schools now have programs for the Japanese language in San Diego. The writers of the articles in this pamphlet testify to the benefits that they realized through their studies of Japanese. I am gratified to learn that the members of the Japanese Language Education and Promotion Program Society of San Diego are now endorsing and supporting the advancement of Japanese language training in this community. Let us all work together in advancing this educational opportunity in San Diego.”

- Haru M. Reischauer

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

“Ground Spider” -  Special Summer Evening Noh by Torch Light

Invited by a friend recently, I had a chance to see one of the centuries-old creations of Noh drama, “Ground Spider” (Tarantula de Tierra) in Fukuoka, Kyushu. The venue was at the Across Symphony Hall which can accommodate thousands. It has no English subtitling amenity but it has an authentic Noh stage setup with a pine tree painted on the back wall.  The artificial torch lit apologetically but was unable to reproduce the mythic outdoor shrine/temple ritual ambiance. Summer should be the best season to enjoy supernatural horrors in darkness, under shadows of trees, branches and leaves, and by flickering fires in the cool wind blowing in the evening - all elements that would add intensity to the Noh drama. Alas, indoor theater was not the best of venues for the horrors and suspenses of the fifth Noh category, dealing with demons.

Ground Spider is a visually entertaining and spectacular piece of Noh repertoire similar to the Kabuki version.  Familiarly called Raiko, Yorimitsu Minamoto (918-1021) is based on a historic figure.  He was the chief of the Seiwa Genji Clan who served for the aristocratic Fujiwara Clans as guardsman, the forerunner of Samurais.  Raiko, together with his four Great Entourage Warriors (Watanabe no Tsuna, Sakata no Kintoki, Usui no Sadamitsu, Urabe no Suetake) vanquished two scary demons, l) Ground Spider at Mt. Katsuraki in Yamato, near Nara and 2) Shuten Doji, Drunkard Lad, at Mt. Oe, Tanba Country, north of Kyoto, both of which were featured in Noh plays, fifth category.  The Shuten-Doji Devil lived during the days of Rasho-Mon, committing all evil crimes in Kyoto, retreating and hiding underground near Mt. Oe, always inebriated, thus named drunkard.

The Ground Spider monster image is said to have originated from a disparaging term for the downtrodden indigenous people of Japan. So, on various levels the play is making a commentary about how Raiko may have treated the indigenous people, their anger over the treatment, and - with the killing of the spider - who the play’s writers felt would win the struggle.  Despite its fearsome look, ancient people were awed by the ground spider and revered it as God incarnate. The highlight of Ground Spider is the scene in which the ato-shite throws spider threads made of Japanese paper.  It is said that the current performance which throws a number of threads is created by the grand master of the Kongo School in the early Meiji Period. The parabolic arch of the spider threads flying in the air should greatly appeal to novice Noh spectators. I heard from my friend indirectly that  even the Noh professional who experienced Shite, that timing of throwing both in preparation and execution is breath-taking, just like counting down the seconds, with an expectation similar to a parachute opening in skydiving.

Ground spider, to me, means fearsome tarantula, a tea cup size spider, which I have seen while living in the U.S. They live in the deserts of Arizona, Texas and other southern states.  I had wanted to buy a stuffed brown specimen but never did. Those tarantulas in the U.S. don’t use a web to ensnare prey, and are harmless to humans.  By Googling I discovered the 2017 Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan wrote his first novel "Tarantula" (unofficially available in 1966). I read it for free after downloading. I was disappointed, however, there was no mention of the Spider Tarantula. He likened himself to a Tarantula setting out on his desert trip to wander the badlands of New York. It’s just interesting he wrote his one and only novel 50 years ago, reputedly hard to interpret.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dr. Alvin Coox - Part 3

Part 3 is my requiem to two Nomonhan Battle survivors, l) Yasushi Fukushima and 2) Masujiro Takata, whom I found among 60 contributors of a tribute to Dr. Coox, under the title “The Road Taken by Dr. Alvin D. Coox”, the book compiled and edited by Hisashi Takahashi in 2005.  This 230 page-book written both in English and Japanese was not for sale.  Tachibana Sensei, friend of Hisako Coox, sent me the book via express, as a loaner, and became the source of Dr. Coox’s photo used in the blog.

1) Yasushi Fukushima

My contacts got started with Dr. Coox’s inquiry to me as the editor/(private) publisher of “Nomonhan - Records of the Nine-Zero (90) Field Artillery Soldiers”, (National Diet Library registration -OPAC GB521-217) , published in 1980. His inquiry was “did I recognize the Russian tank troop deployment accompanied with their infantry around the River Holstein near the so-called Izumi Bend?"  I don’t remember how I answered him, but our artillery encamped at the south of Holstein Lake was in a frenzy facing numerous Russian tank deployments. At dusk on August 24th we succeeded in repositioning ourselves at around the 752 Height in the eastern battle front. I wasn’t familiar with Holstein River nor the Izumi Bend. The commander’s commendation given to us was for our contribution on the left bank of Holstein River. However, this location was not in my recollection either. 


Things cleared up only recently. I received in my possession a staff diary of the 3rd Artillery Battalion. A Godsend! The Miyao Unit I belonged to was under the lst Battalion. The said diary showed the 3rd Battalion joined the lst Battalion at some point, and definitely on August 24th, the 3rd Battalion was at Izumi Bend of the Holstein River and did produce curtain fire for our infantry, as Dr. Coox asked me when he first contacted me in 1980.

Few people knew the existence of Type Nine Zero Field Guns in the Nomonhan Battles. On our way back from Noro Height to Baru West Height, our artillery battalions were held while waiting at the pontoon bridge constructed by our engineering support troops. Fondly remembered were the “cool and smart” looking Nine Zero guns, which attracted the eyes of soldiers passing-by, and, unexpected crowds of curious rubbernecks. As Dr. Coox pointed out, these guns, high-tech pieces of the day, demonstrated magnificent power in the melee battle grounds and consummate tactics against Russian tanks. I am thankful for Dr. Coox's special and sympathetic reference to us Artillery Soldiers throughout his master book. May Dr. Coox rest in peace.

2) Masujiro Takada

Your esteemed name was familiar to me through a mutual friend, Yasushi Fukushima, as the author of “Nomonhan, Japan against Russia 1939", who tried to discover and report the facts and truth of the battles as they were, and I looked forward to an opportunity to meeting you some day.  Same as Fukushima, I too belonged to the former Kwangtung Army Field Artillery lst Battalion, Miyao Unit.

Then, out of the blue, the Asahi Newspaper dated Nov. 18, 1999 reported your obituary; we alerted our mutual friends, once belonged to the Artillery, as well as all  Nomonhan Society members. Then, after a while, we were notified that volunteers would be planning a memorial book for Dr. Coox and we all thought it was a great way to immortalize your life's work of truth-finding endeavors.

1945, the year Japan surrendered, I was held as a Russian captive in Shenyang and sent to Chita Retention, Baicalia Province, Siberia, about 650km east of Irkutsk and served at the hard labor camp for 4 years. Returned to Japan around 1950 but I had lost everything; had to start my life over from scratch. It took more than 10 years before I had time to gradually contact the Nomonhan artillery friends such as Fukushima and Sugawara, and again some more years later that I joined the Nomonhan Society. I began to attend annual Nomonhan memorial services, where I mingled with survivors, but didn’t converse much, feeling dispirited, due to the prevailing air of lost wars, despite our pride as artillerymen.

I remember it was at the 1989 Joint WW2 Memorial Service that your Nomonhan book translation in 2 volumes reached us at the service venue.  I bought it right there and stayed up many nights, read it over again and again, until I fully memorized it. I jumped for joy to have encountered your book,  with your detailed research and precise descriptions.   Your book opened my eyes about the whole Nomonhan picture in stages and by hour how the Nomonhan wars were fought, between Russians and Japanese. I was saved by your special reference to the Miyao Artillery Unit, as the reliable artillery force which won the trust and confidence of all the infantry soldiers. I never felt prouder to be a member of the Miyao Unit.

I’m really happy and glad to have read your book, containing important historical data and hope this book will remain remembered by future generations.  The book shines a light on the Japan that renounced war as a sovereign right of the nation. I thank you sincerely for your selfless and unbiased Nomonhan research of Japan and Russia as I was one of the soldiers who fought in the war.  We have lost a great benefactor.

Note: Photos & map of the battleground as they are today.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dr. Alvin Coox - Part 2

At the local library I picked up the requested "Coox’s Nomonhan" in 4 volumes (Pocketbook edition), published in 1994. These are books I saw at the bookstores upon my return from San Diego. The library books were stamped “donated.”

Young Dr. Coox had worked since the 1960s at the Allied GHQ in Tokyo, as a strategy analyst/researcher and military historian of WW2. He published many books, Japan - the Final Agony (1970), Tojo (1975), The Pacific War Revisited (1983), just to name a few. The book he must be proud of should be Nomonhan, Japan against Russia (Stamford U) which won the Samuel E. Morrison Prize, whose name I knew as an author of the famous “Struggle for Guadalcanal”.  Rear Admiral Morrison (1887-1976) won the Pulitzer Prize and received an honorable doctorate.  Dr. Coox, during his 15 year stay in Japan, interviewed 400 Japanese Nomonhan survivors on the list obtained from the Japanese Bureau of Veteran Affairs. He got in touch with the Nomonhan Society, consisting of survivors and bereaved family members. In the book preface, Dr. Coox expressed appreciation for all the help/cooperation received to compile the book. I’m sure Hisako Coox aided in smooth communication. The preface was written at the end of 1993, the time I was contemplating my retirement to return to Japan.

Dr. Coox was aware that the Russian casualty figures he used in his study were censured by the Russian Government and did not necessarily reflect the true figures as compared to the Japanese counterpart figures.  Under the 1990s Gorbachevian Glasnost, corrected figures first appeared, if not completely transparent, at the International Academic Study Symposiums of the Nomonhan/Khalkha River Battles held in Tokyo in 1991 by a Russian participant Colonel Valtanov and Gen. Lt. Krivosheyev in 1993 and 2010 (See the table below).  In anticipation, Dr. Coox had asked his friend Professor Hata to audit his figures in the Japanese translation (per Prof. Hata’s postscript dated, Sept. 1989 - 50th anniversary year of the Battle as the managing editor).

I’m glad to find the name of Nomonhan in the Lonely Planet Mongolia Travel Guide across the Khalkhgol.  It is where the east-most Mongolian Aimag (province) named “Dormod” penetrates into Hulun Lake, China, the largest lake in the inner Mongolia Autonomous region. Khalkhgol had existed as a vague border since Qin Dynasty/Russia days, causing skirmishes between the Japanese Kwantung Army and Russian Guards in the mid 1930s. The region is nothing but an open spread of grassland and shrubs as huge as Kyushu Island. Choibalsan, the capital of the region, is over 300 km west, which is 600 km east of Ulaanbaatar, the state capital.

Russian Commander Zhukov, obtaining Stalin’s approval for reinforcement, prepared against a possible Japanese invasion.  He faithfully followed Chinese Master Sun Tzu’s Art of War to seek revenge for the defeated Battles of Tsushima Strait and the disgraced Baltic Fleet. He drew all-out logistics, sending thousands of trucks, hundreds of tanks, soldiers, food and ammunition swiftly, on the Trans-Siberian Railway and hauling them down to no-man’s land named Nomonhan. It is the Japanse Kwantung Army opportunistic and overconfident staff who didn’t even try to know their enemy, and lacked essential reconnaissance.  Russians took geographic advantage, snipers targeted water supplies, used tactics such as piano wires to tangle Japanese tanks. The Japanese soldiers were given no time to rest and sleep after a long trek.  I can painfully visualize the battle scenes where the Japanese were encircled with nowhere to hide in the grasslands by hundreds of Russian tanks and annihilated by flamethrowers. I read that the front retreat requests were rejected by Kwangtung headquarters and the front commanders were ordered to “take their tonsils out”, i.e. commit harakiri.

I wonder what made Dr. Coox so interested in Nomonhan. I suspect he tried to determine the cause of the Japanese turning their reckless march southward as a direct result of the disastrous and not well publicized Nomonhan battles. Interviewing Japanese Nomonhan survivors, Dr. Coox had to be full of compassion. He may have been disappointed that the Nomonhan defeat didn’t ring the alarm for the Japanese at large. I heard that the Nomonhan Society contributed Dr. Coox’s books to the Yasukuni Shrine Museum and Library where the souls of all war heroes are enshrined, their sacrifices never to be forgotten.

Lastly, I also read a book Nomonhan Has Not Been Forgotten written by an elderly Oita, Kyushu writer named Noriko Koyama.  She voluntarily joined a small party of the 2006 Government sponsored dispatch to Mongolia to recover remains of soldiers and conduct memorial services in Nomonhan. Due to limited manpower and time available, the excavated  were just a fraction of remains.  Thousands still remain uncovered. The book was written in 2006 and she subtitled it for the “67th Memorial". This year is “77th” Memorial.  I’ll join her in her echo of “Nomonhan must not been forgotten”.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dr. Alvin Coox - Part 1

"Eye witness to history” is one of my favorite running columns in the Yomiuri Newspaper in Japanese. I enjoyed Mari Matsunaga’s account of DoCoMo’s mobile phone developments as its i-mode editor-in-chief, which ran from early February  to mid-March. Then Ikuhiko Hata, an octogenarian historian, took over, beginning with the Tokyo Tribunal of War Criminals.

He wrote that after Tokyo University, he studied at Harvard in 1963 and at Columbia in 1964, and showed the photo of President Kennedy in the Dallas motorcade. I was in NYC in the1960s.  He and I witnessed the assassination of the President in the U.S.   He referred to a friend, Dr. Alvin Coox, who helped him secure the Asian Foundation scholarship in addition to the Rockefeller Foundation.  Dr. Coox!  My Goodness! I served as an initial Advisory Board member for his SDSU Japan Studies Institute in the 1980s. However, he passed away right after I left San Diego. I remember his spouse Hisako. I emailed my friend who knows Hisako. I received an answer and she is hale and hearty.  Hisako Coox has sponsored my friend’s life work of Japanese language promotion and annual speech contest in San Diego for the past 10 years.

I first met the Coox’s at an LA reception celebration at the Japanese Consulate General. The reception invitees were mostly from the Japanese American business circles. The Coox's humbly sat apart. I introduced myself and my wife. I didn’t really know about him until I returned to Japan in mid-90s. His best selling and award winning “Nomonhan: Japan against Russia 1939” (Stamford Press) was translated into Japanese in 1994 and hit the bookstore shelves in 4 volumes.

Then I read in a weekly magazine that Dr. Coox had a conversation with Ryotaro Shiba (now deceased), a famous writer and my alma mater senior.  Ryotaro was drafted to Manchuria when when he was a student and assigned to a tank battalion. He didn’t engage in war but got trained as a tank trooper and was knowledgeable enough to discuss differences between Japanese and Russian tanks. The Nomonhan (battles of Khalkhin Gol) survivors would have told him how miserably they were defeated. The BT-5 Soviet tanks, copied from an American designer, featured track fitted transportation, high-speed mobility, overpowering anti-tank machine guns, and equipped with a flame-thrower.  One weakness of the Soviet tanks were that they were fire-prone. The overheated gasoline engine easily caught fire - alas - the Japanese infantrymen, without tank or artillery support, found that they could knock out gasoline-powered tanks and armored cars with Molotov cocktails and mines. About 120 vehicles were destroyed in this manner, but the Japanese soldiers, who had to get up close to deliver a satchel hurling attack, took heavy casualties.

Ryotaro did in fact interview Nomonhan survivors like Dr. Coox, apparently with ardent hope of writing about them, but stopped pursuing it. Many people wondered why. Most plausible to me was that he heard, with shock, that there was a similar attempt as depicted in the US movie “Saving Private Ryan” to force the war to an abrupt end.

I’m surprised a younger writer Haruki Murakami (1949- ), Kafka and Jerusalem Prizes winner, touched upon Nomonhan battles in his 600-page “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” (the Chronicle hereafter) as a story within a story. I got wind that his father once conscripted in Manchuria during WW2.  I read the English translation by Jay Rubin.  There is a couple of places that is relevant in Book l Thieving Magpie – in Chapter 4, High Towers & Deep Wells - O, Far Away from Nomonhan and Chapters 12 and 13, Lt. Mamiya’s Long Story Parts 1 and 2. The Chronicle has 3 Books and seems still unfinished.

Briefly, at the pre-battle stage, a horse-riding party of 4 Japanese secretly crossed the River Khalkhin, the controversial Outer Mongolia/Manchuria border, a violation by itself.  A self-proclaimed civilian named Yamamoto had a top secret mission to plot probable pro-Japanese Mongolian agents (undisclosed to the escort). To escort him safely, 3 soldiers were chosen. They were Lt. Mamiya, Sgt. Hamano, Cp. Honda. An injured Yamamoto, back from an errand, ordered the immediate departure. They had to wait for night to cross the Khalkhin Gol as they spotted Mongolian security. So, the party slept with Cp. Honda taking watch. Lt. Mamiya woke to find Sgt. Hamano killed lying on the floor and he and Yamamoto were captives. After Russian interrogations, Yamamoto was sentenced to an ugly slow death by knife flaying alive. Lt. Mamiya had to run naked for his life and jump into the dry well or be shot. Death came to Lt. Mamiya in the barren tundra fields buried deep in the well unknown by anybody.  He was overwhelmed with loneliness and despair waiting for his death. It was Cp. Honda,  by intuition on foot, who found and saved Lt.Mamiya. The existence of the well incident has a profound meaning in the Chronicle, as WW2 ruin and redemption.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Catalpa Part 2: A letter to Sayaka Komata in Oakridge, Tennessee

Sayaka-San, it will be the third spring since you helped me get information regarding “Catalpa”, a tree native to the Midwest (see previous “Catalpa’s Spread in Japan, Grown from Seeds” post). The post was about the lovely friendship between Jo (Joseph) Neesima, the founder of Doshisha University in Kyoto and returnee from the U.S., the seed sender and Tokutomi brothers in Kumamoto, the seed receivers.

Kumamoto had a tough 2016. The magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the region causing widespread damage and resulting in 50,000 evacuees. Kumamoto Castle, the symbol of the city, will require costly refurbishments. Last year I wanted to take my daughter and granddaughter (from California) to Kumamoto in May, but we had to cancel. The first anniversary of the disastrous event just came to pass.

The reason I’m writing to you is that I discovered the most impressive American Haiku related to catalpa, the tree of our mutual interest. Here’s briefly how and where I found it and whose Haiku it is.

Recently, while at the Central Kitakyushu library, I picked up a book How Haiku is accepted in England and in the U.S. (ISBN4-8302-2315-4-C) written by Akira Kawano, a Kitakyusuan (1962- ), who taught at Fukuoka University of Education, majored in English poetry during the 1960’s at Wyoming University and Purdue University.  This book was divided into two parts; an introduction of the so-called imaginist poets, such as T. E. Hulme, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, followed by Haikuists, such as Helen S. Chenoweth, Ann Atwood, Truth Mary Fowler, Jinna Johnson, Richard Wright and Annette S. Morrow.

"Popcorn flowers of catalpa
on the Spring lawn -
    Children confused."

春の芝生に/カタルパのポプコーン花や/困惑したる子供ら(河野皓訳)

This Haiku was sung by Helen S. Chenoweth from Los Altos Writers Roundtable and originally published in Borrowed Water (Charles Tuttle).

The popcorn imagery is pleasant and entertaining, describing the flower beautifully. It reminds me of the crape flower (crape myrtle) if it were white. Children would be surely confuse it with popcorn on the ground.  I salute  Helen’s flash of wit and gaiety.  A great Haiku originated from California, my second home! 

I will tell the Society of Roka Tokutomi in Kumamoto about this haiku.  I would be very happy if this haiku could help boost the number of attendance, even a little bit, for this year’s catalpa viewing and brighten the day of the people there.