10 haikuists and their works

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Chapter 10
Kakio Tomizawa
(1902 ~ 1962)

Shuoshi Mizuhara, influential member of Hototogisu magazine, left it in 1931, in reaction against Suju Takano and Kyoshi Takahama, their master who defended Suju's method. Shuoshi thought that the dogma "kyakkan shasei" (objective sketch) encouraged dull haikus only describing things monotonously and he insisted that haiku should express well completed beauty.

The independence of Shuoshi gave a great shock to the haiku world Kyoshi had dominated. Young poets, stimulated by this event, initiated a more radical innovative movement, named "Shinko Haiku" (young and new haiku). Shuoshi did not grant any value to the haiku without kigo (seasonless haiku), and he sought subjects of haiku in the nature and in the life concerning to the nature.

The young poets of Shinko Haiku refused the rule of kigo and attempted to modernize haiku, modeling the Western literature. Several of them had sympathy with the socialism or the dadaism.

The principal poets of Shinko Haiku are Sanki Saito (1900 ~ 1962), Kakio Tomizawa, Hosaku Shinohara (1905 ~ 1936), Soshu Takaya (1910 ~), and Hakusen Watanabe (1913 ~ 1969).

Kakio Tomizawa, influenced by poems of the symbolists, tried to express the spleen of moderns. He introduced, in the Western way, the abstraction, the metaphor, and the analogy.

Today, the opinions on Kakio still vary. It is especially the poets traditionalists who strongly deny the value of Shinko Haiku, there including Kakio.

There are two kinds of blame put on Kakio. One is for his technique: "Haiku is the shortest poetry form in the world, therefore it can transmit only a little information. The essence of haiku, it is the allusion to vast space with a few words, not the expressionism. This is why the haikuists had care to make simple descriptions, leaving a place to the readers' imagination. The manner of Kakio to attract the readers by handling metaphors limits their freedom of imagination and weakens the haiku." This type of reproach comes mainly from the poets traditionalists.

But it seems to me that this kind of reproach consider only one aspect of Kakio's technique. Before Kakio, only simple descriptions were used. There was then a cultural base supporting this simplicity; many customs remained and the Japanese had in common value judgments and fixed firm aesthetic sense; thus, simple descriptions evoked the same pleasures to Japanese readers.

As the internationalization and the development of modernization accelerated, it became difficult to share the same values, even among Japanese. As for the haiku, it became necessary to reinforce the transmission by adopting such exaggerated expressions as metaphor and analogy.

The other reproach is for his view of the man. The poets of Shinko Haiku rejected the Japanese conventional culture and they expressed the repulsion for this society where the birth, the relationship, and the authority of old men were respected than the quality of the individual. They dreamed of liberal values and accepted the idea of the Western individualism. They considered that the society and the individual were opposed and they thought that an author had to have a point of view of individualist turning against the former.

After the war, penetrating the traditionalism of the Japanese mentality which loved the authority in spite of the painful experiment of the defeat, Kakio expressed, as an individual, the despair of humanity.

However the values themselves which put the human at the center of the universe, the idea that an individual has the same amount of right as the society, are doubted today. Can we say that an individual is superior to a rat? If we can admit without irony that there is no difference between a man and a rat, a new view of the man will be born; if the individual is not any more aware of his rights, the despair of humanity will disappear.

On the basis of this important criticism against Shinko Haiku, Koi Nagata, Seito Hirahata (1905 ~ 1997), and other poets founded the movement "Kongen Haiku" (haiku seeking the origin of the existence).

The opinions on Kakio are varied, but many contemporary haikuists adopts his method. I believe that his activity as a pioneer will never be questioned.

A crane
Shading in the evening twilight
Trails its smokelike wings.

There stand humble white tombs.

Dry sound of footsteps
Continue regularly
Close to this lamp.

A hail of nuts
In the ripples of thunders of cannons.

Cage of a leopard.
Not a water drop
Remain in the sky.

Day of pollen.
The birds have no breasts.

Opening a window
I drive out a horsefly.
Undulations of the fields.

A butterfly falls.
The freezing season
With great reverberations.

Heat of autumn.
Spots of the leopard
Appear viscous under the sun.

Dream of a winter butterfly.
A drop of melted snow
In the Karakorams.

Written by
Ryu Yotsuya

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