A notebook containing five previously unpublished poems by haiku master Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) has been found, a group announced on Aug. 22.
The 32-page notebook dates back to 1901 and contains haiku and drawings inked by Shiki and 13 visitors to his residence in Tokyo's Taito Ward on New Year's Day, according to the Shikian Preservation Society. Shiki passed away the following year.
Although the presence of the notebook has been known, its whereabouts had long been unknown.
"It's surprising that five of Shiki's haiku poems have turned up all at once," said an expert. "The poems provide a glimpse into Shiki's haiku style in his later years."
The notebook is bound in traditional Japanese style and measures 24 centimeters by 16 centimeters. On its cover are written words in Japanese meaning Jan. 1 in the 34th year of the Meiji era, as well as "saitancho," a kind of guest book for New Year's visitors.
One of the haiku pieces Shiki wrote in the notebook reads: "Kurakiyori / gancho o sawagu / kodomo kana," which can be roughly translated as "Children excited from before daylight on New Year's Day."
The notebook also contains two previously unreleased self-portraits of Shiki. The portraits, both of which depict his left-side profile, are believed to have been based on his photograph taken in December 1900.