5-7-5 Manga or Photo Giveaway

Last week and this week are my last classes with my third year students. (The equivalent to ninth graders in America.) At my smaller schools, I have a “scavenger hunt” game, wherein I list a number of commands, and students must take a photo of themselves doing this command. Thus, they study English (understanding the commands) whilst putting together some great memories.

On Thursday, one of those commands was

Teach Ms. Kat a famous haiku.

Here is what I learned:

Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Is he a sexy beast or what? 😉




Astute eyes, even those who have not studied Japanese, will note that the first and third lines of each haiku are the same. This is because this series of haiku has a particular meaning–how each of the three famous shogun of Japan, Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu, ruled Japan. Nobunaga was fierce, but he had to be in order to unite the warring clans. So he killed his opponents. Hideyoshi is known for his power of persuasion, and Ieyasu for his perseverance. In English, the haiku might read thus (please note, I take poetic license for my translation):

Ooooh, or Ieyasu! Wowzas, they know how to make

If it does not cry,
then it will be killed at once,
the little cuckoo.

If it does not cry,
then encourage it to sing,
the little cuckoo.

If it does not cry,
then you must wait for it to sing,
the little cuckoo.

Here, I guess, the cuckoo is a metaphor for Japan? So, if it’s not doing what they wanted it to do–or perhaps what it’s supposed to do–then they reacted as prescribed above. For the most part.

This is the recently shed shell of a cicada. Photo taken in Hiroshima summer of 2010.

I actually learned one other haiku. This one was my favorite from the day:


And in English (maybe):

A still, empty shell–
the buzzing of cicadas
soak into the rocks.

Even the English version of this haiku makes me feel the heavy, humid air of summer, the omnipresent buzz of the cicadas in my ears as I sit near the beach, watching the surf rush into the rocks. GAH. IT IS BEAUTIFUL.

You know what? THESE HAIKU HAVE MADE ME WANT TO GIVE. So! I know that I do not have so many readers (yet). But I have a few! And most of you are very geeky people. (Which is good, because geeky people are the best.) If, in the comments section, you write me a haiku ABOUT SPRING, then you will be entered for a prize! And what is that prize, you ask? One of two fabulous options:

  1. A manga book or magazine (in Japanese, given that I can find it at my local manga shop) OF YOUR CHOICE.
  2. A requested photo of whatever rural Japanese landscape you like, as best I can do without leaving my island, at least. –> I will email you the .jpeg and, if you like, mail you a 8×12 print, too.