--- Haiku Living Together with Nature ---

      From the book entitled "Haiku in Twelve Months"
      Authored by Ms. Inahata Teiko.
      Translated by Mizuta Mutsumi


August---Looking up at the Night Sky

 It is autumn on the calendar, after passing the risshu (the first day of autumn, about 8 August). Even though the hot days still continue, we feel a little relieved when these days are called zansho (lingering heat). Autumn is surely stealing up to us from nowhere, although we don't realize it. And it is these days that we are conscious of coolness of autumn in the morning and in the evening. We can find the keen sense of the season of autumn in a waka poem, composed by Fujiwara-no Toshiyuki, which is in the collection of the "Kokinwakashu ":

aki kinu to Autumn has come
me ni wa sayaka ni Without realizing clearly
miene domo With eyes, however,
kaze no oto nizo The sound of wind
odorokarenuru. Surprises us.

In haiku, the same sense can be recognized in the seasonal word shinryo (new coolness). It is not too much to say that the delicate sensibility toward the turning of seasons stems from the high spiritual culture which the Japanese have gained from living in harmony with nature. It is important that we should pass down the seasonal words which our ancestors chose and formed .

 As the heat, as well as the temperature, decreases in severity, the air gets clearer and the sky gets more beautiful. So you have more chances to look up at the night sky, don't you?

 In August there are many seasonal words related to the night sky like hoshizukiyo (starlit night=stars like the moon night), hoshimatsuri (Star Festival), tanabata (the Festival of the Weaver), ryusei (a shooting star).

 But recently the town is too bright to see the stars in the night sky. It is a pity that we might lose the beautiful starry sky as a result of our pursuit of a comfortable life in the city.

 In August there are also many seasonal words regarding the Bon Festival, welcoming the ancestral spirits. The way of life and the spirit of the Japanese, as an agricultural people, are reflected on these words. And also August 15th is the day commemorating our defeat in the World War II. Never forget the day. We should reflect on our past conduct, deeply think our history and offer prayers to the deceased. We don't think that the day of August 15 accidentally falls on the O-Bon.

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