TOKYO -- An unpublished poem by haiku master Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) has been found in one of his notebooks, the Shikian Preservation Society that preserves the poet's old home Shikian announced on Aug. 22.
Shiki and his pupils wrote haiku pieces in two notebooks, "Teiyuishu" and "Fukubiki," on New Year's period in 1897 while drawing raffles, as the pupils had visited Shiki who had been ill in bed since the previous year. The new piece Shiki wrote in Fukubiki reads: "Shinnenya/ mukashiyori kyusu / nao kyusu," which can be roughly translated as "New Year comes, and I become poorer than before."
In an introduction to Fukubiki, Shiki made a play on words by writing, "Fukubikini/kyusu o ete/hokku ni kyusu," which roughly translates as "I won kyusu (a teapot) in a raffle, and kyusu (I'm at a loss) how to begin a poem."
Ichiro Fukumoto, professor emeritus of Japanese literature at Kanagawa University who was in charge of the study, said, "It is interesting that the piece shows Shiki's charming character, improvisation skills and playful nature."
Fukubiki also contains a piece added to a letter from Shiki to haiku poet Naito Meisetsu, who was absent from the New Year gathering, and other new poems that 10 pupils, such as Takahama Kyoshi, composed after being inspired by Shiki's sense of humor.
In addition, a letter Shiki wrote to politician Kazuo Kojima, Shiki's co-worker at the newspaper company "Nippon (Japan)," in May 1902, has also been discovered.
The two notebooks and other documents will be displayed for the first time from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30 at Shikian in Tokyo's Taito Ward.
(Japanese original by Takuya Inoue, Cultural News Department)