< In Lieu of Closing Remarks >
Since my childhood, I lived in constant touch with nature and described it through haiku to fill the daily pages of my life. My lengthy writing on haiku so far will be well rewarded if it persuaded even one of my readers to realize that haiku is a casual part of his or her routine life, and that he or she can make them.
I support that some of my readers have been under the impression that haiku is something beyond their reach, and that they my develop an allergy against it if pressed too much.
I trust that all of you now understand that haiku is nothing of the sort. Let's try to eliminate misunderstandings one by one and go back to the natural spirit of haiku in our heart. Then nature will have a greater presence in our life and initiate a friendly dialogue with us.
By way of concluding remarks on the historical background of the modern haiku, let me first touch upon Masaoka Shiki, a great figure in the Meiji era(1868〜1912), then Takahama Kyoshi and Kawahigashi Hekigodo(1873〜1937) who studied together under Shiki but later took entirely different paths.
An ardent admirer of Buson whose haiku was characterized by realistic description, Shiki took advantage of his knowledge on the Western painting and emphasized the importance of "sketching" in haiku.
His proposal gained much popularity among the young people who were not happy with the prevailing dull pattern of haiku, and led to the birth of a new haiku. Besides his contributions for haiku innovation, Shiki played equally impressive roles in the Waka field. Unfortunately illness took his life so young at 36 years of age in September, 1902.
Together with these and many other haiku he wrote, Shiki became an unforgettable figure in the development of haiku. Iris greatness is also found in the development of excellent successors. Among them were Kawahigashi Hekigodo and Takahama Kyoshi.
Born close in age in Matsuyama, the native place of Shiki, the two studied in the same class at a junior high school, and became Shiki's students at about the same time. They were so closely related that they worked together helping Shiki develop haiku, and sometimes competed with each other due to the difference in viewpoint.
After the death of Shiki, the two, among others, took major leadership for development of haiku. Hekigodo took the initial lead, promoted vigorously the teachings of Shiki and his own ideas, thus setting a new wave in the haiku world. He advocated his own theories in denial of the established principles on sketching, season words and 5-7-5 syllables. His activities were appreciated as "New Trend Afovement" and as such contribtlted to the modernization of haiku. However, he gradually indulged in irregular and self-righteous haiku and went off the center of the haiku society.
Kyshi, on the other hand, revived the "Hototogisu" magazine which had been abolished at the first anniversary due to financial reasons. He republished the magazine in Tokyo. In the days of Shiki, Hekigodo used to be active on the the magazine. But in later days, it became the stage mainly for Kyoshi. While Hekigodo pursued the new-trend movement, Kyoshi was bent on writing and introducing stories on the "Hototogisu" magazine. Making public a lot of stories including "I Am A Cat" by Natsume Soseki(1867〜1916). the magazine became a forum for stories rather than haiku.
Hekigodo's new trend movement was about to gain nationwide popularity, when Kyoshi made a comeback to the haiku world. Fe concluded that the movement attempted to ruin the traditional principles thus destroying the traditional haiku. Kyoshi returned to haiku to correct the trend with a most aggressive determination:
Kyoshi consistently emphasized the importance of traditions including the 5-7-5 syllables and the season word, and proposed that we ought to discover new provinces under these traditions. Finally he reached a conclusion that "the objective of haiku is to appreciate nature in the form of poetry."
These two contrasting successors caused the tbachings of Shiki to be handed down the generations to date.
The Hototogisu fostered prominent haiku poets including Shiki, Hekigodo and Kyoshi, and at the same time produced superb works of haiku. It had no break in regular publication to date. The very history of the magazine, with its leadership in the haiku world from Meiji to Taisho to Showa period, may well represent that of the modern haiku.
I really enjoyed the Study of haiku with my readers. Finally let me briefly introduce several haiku events and rules including Kukai(haiku meetings).