This article originally featured in the January 2020 issue of Connect.
Art Editor: Valerie Osborne (Fukuoka)
Since coming to Japan, I’ve often found it hard to find inspiration for my writing. I used to write poetry like diary entries, recording my thoughts and feelings. Yet, despite being in Japan for over a year now, I’ve barely written anything about my time here. You would think that living in such a beautiful country, within a new and interesting culture, there would be no lack of new ideas for a writer. Yet still, I find myself drawing a blank. It doesn’t help that when I get home from school, the only motivation I have is the motivation to watch Netflix until it’s time for bed. I just don’t have the energy to write and edit the long-winded, free verse poems that detailed my college life. However, I don’t want to quit writing altogether, so I’ve tried to make it a goal to write just a little bit, even if it’s only occasionally. The Japanese poetry form haiku is perfect for this goal.
“A haiku is a short form poem that consists of three lines, the first and last lines contain five syllables, while the middle line allows seven syllables.”
I’ve found that the strict structure of the haiku gives me a more concentrated focus on my writing, while the short length allows me to write quickly without losing motivation. Haiku can also act as a scrapbook of sorts, letting me write quick snapshots of things I’ve seen and experienced in Japan. The following haiku detail some moments from the past year . . . my first full year in Japan.
First (and only snow) in Fukuoka
Tepid breath tattoos the frozen window. Loose snow crowns a hill of roofs.
Concert in Osaka
A lone singer sweats Under the hot furor of Stage lights. The crowd hums.
Trip to Okinawa
Salted air fills my lungs with gulps of life. A sea bluer than the sky.
Lilly pads, drifting ships, catch sakura: nomads shaken from the trees.
Lotus Lantern Festival in Busan
Roses glow under the gentle flush of lanterns. Birthday for a god.
Ajisai, blooming violet, a bruised and fitful love paints the petals.
Train ride across Hokkaido
From the train window, Farmhouses break the fold of waves. Midori sea.
Climbing Mt. Daisen
Clouds weaving a mask, veil the mountain’s shy face. We ascend for a peak.
Itoshima weds the sea, kissing the feet of Heaven’s gate, chaste white.
Trip to Yanagawa
Heads brushed by weeping willows, an old man sings. The river guides us home.
Above neon lights, A starless sky watches the city reach for her.
Early morning before work
Rising slowly, the sun blushes, waking up to the face of the hills.
Photos: Valerie Osborne
Valerie Osborne is the CONNECT Art Section editor and a 2nd year JET from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. She currently works as an ALT at two high schools in Fukuoka Prefecture.