11/24/2007

Numbers used in Haiku

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Numbers used in Haiku - Plural and Haiku



The use of numbers in Haiku.

The use of numbers as counters in a haiku makes the situation look very real. It is therefore skilfully used to get this special effect.

But there are many compound expressions (jukugo 熟語) in the Japanese language using
numbers in combination with ONE, which are also dear to haiku poets.

Here is an interesting LINK in Japanese, where most of them are all listed.
© hokui 40


I will try and translate them and other haiku with numbers as they come up in the WKD.


All translations by Gabi Greve, unless stated otherwise.

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. Numbers used by Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 .

. Numbers used by Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村  .


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I RO HA (A B C)  いろは
One two three 一二三



.. ONE .. TWO .. THREE ..
a winter day spent
studying basics

Gabi Greve, December 2007


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Some English language haiku poets promote the "rule" not to use ONLY, JUST or some such word to emphasize the fact of ONLY one/two/three things in the scene.
I see no reason for this coming from the traditional Japanese haiku.
The meaning is different, so the poet has to choose what kind of emotion he wants to convey with his poem.

one hair in my soup / only one hair in my soup

only one hair on my head


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Worldwide use


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Things found on the way



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HAIKU


.............................. ONE 一


isshoo 一升 1.8 liters
isshoo 一生 a lifetime
isshoo 一笑 a laughter


. kiri hitoha 桐一葉 one paulownia leaf .


tsuyu no tama hitotsu hitotsu ni furusato ari

in beads of dew
one by one my home
village


Issa / Tr. Lanoue/ Dew and Haiku
The last line in Japanese has 6 beats in this transscription.


露の玉 ひとつひとつに 故郷あり
tsuyu no tama hitotsu hitotsu ni kokyoo ari

dewdrops ...
in this one, in this one too
my dear homeland

Tr. Gabi Greve


. Home town, home village - furusato, kokyoo .


夕顔やひとつひとつに風さわぐ
yuugao ya hitotsu hitotsu ni kaze sawagu

moonflowers--
one by one the wind
rustles them



秋の山一つ一つに夕哉
aki no yama hitotsu hitotsu ni yuube kana

autumn mountains
one by one
the evening falls



栗おちて一つ一つに夜の更る
kuri ochite hitotsu hitotsu ni yo no fukeru

chestnuts dropping
one by one...
the night deepens


source : Tr. David Lanoue

. . . . .


人一人蝿も一つや大座敷
hito hitori hae mo hitotsu ya oozashiki

one man
and one fly --
large sitting room



ばせを忌と申すも只一人哉
Bashoo-ki to moosu mo tatta hitori kana

"Basho Death Memorial Day"
I am all alone
saying this

Kobayashi Issa
Tr. Gabi Greve


or

though they say
it's Bashō's Anniversary
all alone

Tr. Nyumon Saijiki




親一人子一人蛍光りけり
oya hitori ko hitori hotaru hikari-keri

one parent
one child
shining fireflies


Kubota Mantaro 久保田万太郎


hitori ... one person, only me


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柿の葉や一つ一つに月の影
kaki no ha ya hitotsu hitotsu ni tsuki no kage

persimmon leaves !
on each single one
the shadow of the moon


Natsume Soseki 夏目漱石
Tr. Gabi Greve


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女一人僧一人雪の渡し哉
onna hitori soo hitori yuki no watashi kana

one woman
one monk - river crossing
in the snow

Naitoo Meisetsu 内藤鳴雪
Tr. Gabi Greve / Read more about this ZEN story here !



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雲の峰 一人の家を 一人発ち
kumo no mine hitori no ie o hitori tachi

billowing clouds -
alone in my own house
I am leaving alone

Tr. Gabi Greve

Okamoto Hitomi 岡本眸
mukago3

She wrote this shortly after the death of her husband. She locked the door and went on to travel.


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春風の鉢の子一つ
harukaze no hachi no ko hitotsu

in the spring breeze
with just one bowl
for begging


© Santoka (Santooka 山頭火)


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Memorial stone at shrine Ueki Jinja 植木神社, Mie
Spring 1688


枯芝やややかげろふの一二寸
kareshiba ya yaya kageroo no ichi ni sun

dead grasses -
above them faint heat shimmers
maybe one or two sun


Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉

one sun is about 3,03 cm


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冬篭るも一日二日哉
fuyugomoru mo ichinichi futsuka kana

winter seclusion
still one more day
two more days . . .





わか竹や是も若は二三日
wakatake ya kore mo wakaki wa ni san nichi

this young bamboo -
it will also be young only
for two or three days


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


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初雪や一二三四五六人
hatsu yuki ya ichi ni san yon go roku hito
hatsuyuki ya ichi ni san yon go roku nin

first snowfall -
one, two, three, four
five, six people

Kobayashi Issa


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一対か一対一か枯野人
ittsui ka ichi tai ichi ka karenobito

a pair ?
or one-to-one ?
people in the withered fields


Takaha Shugyo 鷹羽狩行


http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/ohta.kahori/suzaku/sz2106.htm


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"one rain, one shine" 一雨一晴 (いちういっせい )


. ichimon, ichi mon 一文 one Mon. a penny; a farthing



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.............................. TWO 二 

"number one, first : plum blossom,
number two, second : cherry blossoms" 一梅二桜 (いちうめにさくら)


咲花をまつ一に梅二は櫻
saku hana o matsu ichi ni umi ni wa sakura

waiting for the cherry blossoms
one is the sea
two is the cherry tree


Ishihara 石原重方

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"one day, two pills" 一日二錠 (いちにちにじょう)

ビタミン剤一日二錠瀧凍る
bitamiinzai ichi nichi ni joo taki kooru

vitamin pills
each day two of them -
the waterfall freezes


Ono Shuka (Oono Shuka) 大野朱香


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"first waterfall, second waterfall"
一滝二滝 (いちのたきにのたき)

一の滝二の滝椿流れ落つ

first waterfall
second waterfall -
camellias drop and float away

Sakanoue 坂上史琅

In the steep mountains of Japan, many waterfalls fall in more than one step.


futari 二人 two people
futatsu ふたつ 二つ two things


二ッあれば又三ッほしやお正月
futatsu areba mata mitsu hoshi ya o-shoogatsu

the second one comes
already longing for the third...
"New Year's"


Kobayashi Issa

Shinji Ogawa explains that Issa is joking on the three "New Year's" celebrations: the first day of First Month, the 15th day (called "Little New Year's") and the 20th day (called "20th Day New Year's"). He implies that celebrating the new year so many times is a bit much.
Tr. and Text David Lanoue


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two or three 二三 nisan

牡丹散て打かさなりぬ二三片
牡丹散って打ち重りぬ二三片
botan chirite uchikasanarinu nisanpen
botan chitte uchi kasanarinu nisan pen

peonies scatter . . .
two or three petals fall
on top of each other


or

peonies scatter ...
petals on top of each other
two or three


. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 .



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.............................. THREE 三 mitsu / san

"one letter, three prayers" 一字三礼 (いちじさんらい)

夏の日を一字三礼写経堂
natsu no hi o ichi ji san rai shakyoo doo

on this summer day
one letter, three prayers -
Hall for Copying Sutras


Usaki Fuyuo 宇咲冬男

As you copy one Chinese character, you make three bows in prayer.
More is here:
Copying the Heart Sutra / Gabi Greve


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一葉三葉銀杏拾ふや博士の子
hito ha mi ha ginnan hirou ya hakase no ko

picking up gingko nuts
under one leaf, three leaves ...
child of the professor


Ito Shou (Itoo Shoo-u) 伊藤松宇

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門松やおもへは一夜三十年
kadomatsu ya omoeba hitoyo sanjuunen

pine decorations -
thinking about it, one night
feels like thirty years


Matsuo Basho 芭蕉

New Year pine decorations and haiku


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川中に床机三ッ四ッ夕すずみ
kawa naka ni shoogi mitsu yotsu yuusuzumi

in the middle of the river
there are three or four benches -
evening cool


Kobayashi Issa


床机 little benches, mostly made of bamboo, for two people to sit on. They are light and people could carry them to enjoy a cool evening in summer.


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.............................. FOUR 四 

The number FOUR (yon) is not very popular in Japan, because one of it's readings is SHI, which can also mean DEATH.
You never give a present with FOUR pieces of something. Hotels and hospitals do not have a room with number 4.
(A bit like our number 13 ...)


wide space, open land, ichi ri shihoo
(one ri distance and the four directions) 一里四方 (いちりしほう)

よく晴れて一里四方を麦の秋

such nice weather
everywhere in the land -
barley autumn


Nakayama Junko 中山純子




寒雁の一羽おくれて四羽の空
kangan no ichiwa okurete yonwa no sora

geese in the cold -
one of them is late
four in the sky


Nozawa Setsuko 野沢節子




名月や一天四海雲もなし
meigetsu ya itten shikai kumo mo nashi

harvest moon -
in the four directions under one sky
there are no clouds


Maki Katsura 眞木桂


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.............................. FIVE 五 


. Goshiki 五色 the five colors of Buddhism


Five Penny Haiku used by Issa

上々のみかん一山五文かな
joojoo no mikan hitoyama go mon kana

the very best mikan
one whole lot for
five pennies ...



hitoyama... one mountain ...
refers to the way they are stapled on a tray.




ooedo ya tada shi go mon mo kusuri-gui

Great Edo--
four or five pennies
for winter medicine




kiri-goza ya zeni ga shi go mon ume no hana.

on his scrap of mat
four or five pennies...
plum blossoms


The beggar hasn't made much money, but they blooming plum trees are a consolation. Issa paints a more desolate scene seven years later(1819):

juubako no zeni shi go mon ya yuu shigure

in the box
four or five pennies...
night of winter rain


(Tr. David Lanoue)


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. gosun kugi 五寸釘 nail of 5 sun, for cursing people .
one sun 寸 is about 3 cm or 1 inch.


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よしきりや四五寸程なつくば山
yoshikiri ya shi go sun hodo na tsukuba yama

hey reed thrush--
it's four, five inches tall
Mount Tsukuba


In this haiku, Issa is playing with perspective. From where he and the reed thrush are located, the distant mountain appears to be only 4 or 5 sun tall. A sun is equal to 1.2 inches.


Issa, Tr. David Lanoue

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五つ六つ茶の子にならぶ囲炉裏哉
itsutsu mutsu cha no ko ni narabu irori kana
(Basho, winter 1688-89)

five or six of us
lined up before the tea cakes:
the sunken hearth

Tr. Barnhill

Snacks with Tea (cha no ko)


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門川や机洗う子五六人
kadokawa ya tsukue arau ko go-roku nin

River Kadokawa -
five or six children
are washing their desks

Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規
仰臥漫録


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.............................. SIX  六 


CLICK here for more photos !
Roku Mon, rokumonsen, six MON coins of old money,
an expression for the money you have to pay at the ferry over the river Sansu to the other world. Many Japanese kept roku mon under their pillow, just in case they die and needed it over night.

Here they are arranged as Japanese family crests. Roku Mon was the family crest of the famous samurai clan of the SANADA. Sanada Masayuki is expecially famous, because he fought bravely against Tokugawa Ieyasu.



鉄砲ゆり六文銭の城の址 
teppoo yuri roku mon sen no shiro no ato

"gun lilies " -
the remains of the castle
of "six mon coins"


...www.gendaihaiku.64


"Gun Lilies" Lilium longiflorum / Photos

Sanada Yukimura 真田幸村 and Shogun Daruma 武将達磨


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人はまたさまざまな六文銭
hito wa mata samazama na roku mon sen

humans too
just a lot of different
six mon coins

© おはな詩俳句館


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神迎ふ一山六社みな灯り
kami mukau hito yama roku sha mina akari

welcoming the god of the new year
one holy mountain with six shrines
all alight


Kida Soshi 木田素子

Shinto Shrines and Haiku

The English is an explanatory rendering to make the meaning more clear.

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my gate--
just six radishes
remain in supply


waga kado ya tada roppon no daikon-gura
我門や只六本の大根蔵

by Issa, 1820

Issa later revises this haiku so that only "four or five" radishes are left.
Shinji Ogawa explains, "The radishes are not stored in a storage house but are buried in the ground in the late autumn for the winter. In the snow-country, usually a stick is standing to locate the spot covered with snow."

Tr. David Lanoue


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..................... FOURTEEN 十四 

Masaoka Shiki

"teizen 庭前" Front Garden

鶏頭の十四五本もありぬべし
keitoo no juushigohon mo arinubeshi

"Before the Garden"

cockscombs
must be 14
or 15

trans. Beichman

Cockscombs--
I'm sure there are at least
Fourteen or fifteen stalks.
trans. Donald Keene

Cockscombs;
There should be
Fourteen or fifteen.

trans. Blyth





Read the amazing story behind this haiku HERE :
. cockscomb, keitoo 鶏頭 (けいとう)
Celosia cristata



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.............................. thirty  三十 


お城から見るや種蒔く三十里
o-shiro kara miru ya tanemaku sanjuu ri

from the castle
I see them sowing seeds -
for 30 ri


Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規

one RI is about 4 km.
Here Shiki is taling about the castle of Matsuyama and the surrounding fertile plains.

. Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規
and Matsuyama City 松山





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..... ONE HUNDRED  百 hyaku and more

一本の樹下に百花の落椿
ippon no ki shita ni hyakka no ochi tsubaki

under one tree
one hundred fallen
camellia blossoms


Takaha Shugyo 鷹羽狩行

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牡丹百二百三百門一つ

botan hyaku nihyaku sambyaku mon hitotsu


one hundred peonies
two hundred, three hundred ...
and only one gate

Awano Seiho 阿波野青畝 (あわの せいほ) (1899-1992)

Maybe he is visiting one of the famous peony temples of Japan.


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一本六百万円の大まぐろなり糶始

ippon roppyaku man en no oo maguro nari uri hajime

first sale of the year!
one big tuna fish for
six million yen


Omura Bajin 尾村馬人

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ゆらぎ見ゆ百の椿が三百に
yuragi miyu hayku no tsubaki ga sanbyaku ni

watching 100 camellias
shaking slightly
I see three hundred


Takahama Kyoshi 高濱 虚子
He liked camellias very much and had a lot of trees planted in his garden in Kamakura.


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issha senri 一瀉千里 (いっしゃせんり) "at top speed"

雨上る一瀉千里に夏に入る

end of the rain -
with great steps (with a thousand miles)
summer is now coming


Ooshima Sada 大島定


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死ぬまでの一千万歩桜かな
shinu made no issen manbo sakura kana

until I die
there are ten million steps ...
oh these cherry blossoms

Hashimoto Naoko 橋本七尾子


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一歩より千里に淋し羯鼓鳥
ippo yori senri ni sabishii kankodori

a thousand steps
more lonely than just one -
this cuckoo


Sosuke 杜亮 


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thousands of leaves . . . . one tree

Dina E. Cox

published in Prairie Sunset
ed. Denver Stull, 2005


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kuman 九万 90.000 - a great number

kuman kusen nichi 九万九千日 July 10
In the Toyama region, on this day people made a pilgrimage to a Buddhist temple.


kuman hassen gami 九万八千神 ninety-eight thousand deities
A great number of deities revered in Kyoto

年徳の京には九万八千神
Toshitoki no Kyoo ni wa kuman hassengami

at the New Year
in Kyoto there are ninety-eight
thousand deities


Yoobai 楊梅 1702



Kyoo wa kuman hassen ke 京は九万八千家
There are ninety-eight thousand families in Kyoto.

Basho changed this famous saying to :


京は九万九千くんじゅの花見哉
Kyoo wa kuman kusen kunju no hanami kana

in Kyoto
there are ninety-nine thousand (people)
watching cherry blossoms


Matsuo Basho (age 23)


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. banzai 万歳 / 萬歳 ten thousand years  
a Japanese battle cry during the war



. Hyakumangoku Matsuri 金沢百万石まつり
Hyakumangoku Festival .
  
in Kanazawa



hyakuman 百万 1.000.000 - a great number

図書館に百万冊の寒さかな 
toshokan ni hyakuman sastu no samusa kana

in the library
one million books
in the cold . . .


鈴木俊六
source : isobekai

Sensei explained that the use of hyakuman, meaning a large number, was very skillful here.
It is not simple shasei, but tells the reader about the impression of the poet.

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DATES used in Haiku

When translating, we have to be careful about the names of a month, since they were used in the way of the Asian Lunar Calendar.
On January 1, 1873, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar.

. The Lunar Calendar in Japan

kyuureki 旧暦 Kyureki, the old calendar
. Names of the old Japanese months and their meanings


for the HAIKU SEASONS,
we have to consider the lunar calendar

spring begins, February 4, risshun 立春
summer begins, May 6, rikka 立夏
autumn begins, August 8, risshuu 立秋
winter begins, November 7, rittoo 立冬




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それぞれの 「あの日」 八月十五日 
sorezore no "ano hi" hachigatsu juugonichi

so different for each one
"that day"
August fifteenth


Tanabe Akira 田邉彬さん written in 2010

. Day the World War II ended in Japan   


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夕立やしかも八月十五日
yuudachi ya shikamo hachigatsu juugo nichi

a cloudburst--
but on the fifteenth
of Eighth Month!


In the old lunar calendar, the fifteenth day of Eighth Month is the time of the harvest moon. Ironically, a "cloudburst" (yuudachi), which is normally associated with summer, spoils this highlight of autumn.

Tr. David Lanoue



十月の中の十日の霰哉
juugatsu no naka no tooka no arare kana

a hailstorm
on the tenth day in the middle
of the tenth month

Tr. Gabi Grevee

Kobayashi Issa

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CLICK for more photos

一九九九年の破魔矢かな
senkyuuhyaku kyuujuunen no hamaya kana

a lucky arrow
for the year nineteenhundred
ninety nine


Goto Takatoshi (Gotoo) 五島高資



Hamaya, the New Year Arrow, a kigo


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十月の御十二日ぞはつ時雨
juugatsu no o-juu ni nichi zo hatsu shigure


Tenth Month's
venerable twelfth day...
first winter rain


Kobayashi Issa
Tr. David Lanoue

This is the date of the Death-Day anniversary of the great poet, Bashoo.
Basho Memorial Day (Basho-Ki) Japan

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十二月八日の霜の屋根幾万
juunigatsu yooka no shimo no yane ikuman

the frost of december eighth
on many thousand roofs

Kato Shuson 加藤楸邨 (1905-1993)
Tr. Gabi Greve


Written at the outbreak of World War II in 1941 (昭和16年).

"During the war, Japanese sources used the name Greater East Asia War (大東亜戦争, Dai Tō-A Sensō). This name was chosen by a cabinet decision on December 10, 1941, to refer to both the war with the western Allies and the ongoing war in China. The name was released to the public two days later, on December 12, with an explanation that it involved Asian nations achieving independence from the Western powers through the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere."
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Japanese War Haiku / Reference


ikuman, there was a famous war song:
"Thousands of enemies may come"
"teki wa ikuman" 敵は幾万


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夕立やしかも八月十五日
yuudachi ya shikamo hachigetsu juugo nichi

an evening shower -
and today is the fifteenth
of eighth lunar month


Kobayashi Issa
Tr. Gabi Greve

This is the night of the full moon, and every poet has been waiting for this most famous night !

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ikusobaku いくそばく/ 幾そ許 / 幾─ how many? how much?

秋風や藻に鳴虫のいくそばく
akikaze ya mo ni naku mushi no ikusobaku

autumn wind--
singing in the duckweed
how many insects?


Kobayashi Issa
Tr. David Lanoue



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Related words

***** . August 1 (hassaku 八朔) .
first day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar


***** Numbers used in Kigo !!!!!



. Kigo Calendar - the 12 Months .

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Buddhism by Numbers

If you've ever wanted to know what the Three Learnings of the Mahyana, the Fivefold Cause & Effect, or the Thirty-two Marks of Perfection of the Buddha are, this is the page for you.
Buddhism by Numbers


A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms
by William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous
(including kanji - very LONG file)
一乘之珠 The pearl of the One yāna, i.e. The Lotus Scripture.
一九 A Shingon term for Amitābha.
一代 A human lifetime; especially the lifetime of Śākyamuni on earth.
source : mahajana.net/texts/kopia_lokaln

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[ . BACK to DARUMA MUSEUM TOP . ]
[ . BACK to WORLDKIGO . TOP . ]

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18 comments:

sakuo said...

大変面白く拝見しました。
Gabi san!
外人もこんな風に数字で楽しむのでしょうか?
一姫二太郎とか?
八方ふさがりとか?
七変化とか?
二転三転とか?

まさに切がありません。日本人だけかな~
外人さんに聞いてみたい。

sakuo

Anonymous said...

disinfectant jar –
there must be 14 or 15
barber’s combs



indigo sky–
there must be 14 or 15
cumulus clouds


Michael Dylan Welch

http://haikaipub.wordpress.com/2007/12/15/shiki-team-shiki-haikusphere/#comments

Anonymous said...

鶏頭の十四五本もありぬべし

keito no
juushi-go hon mo
arinu beshi

cockscombs
must be fourteen
or fifteen there

Masaoka Shiki

,,, boldly went beyond irony on to nonsense or Dadaism in his haiku

http://www.ecf.or.jp/shiki/1999/dec5.html

Gabi Greve said...

Ichinin to 
Choomen ni tsuku 
Yo-samu kana 

(Issa, Issa Hokku Shu)  

"One," 
Entered the number of guests in a hotel register, 
Adds greatly to the night cold.

2005 Hitomi Dever
http://www.hdever.com/music12.html

.................................

"One Guest"
added to the hotel register ...
cold night

Tr. Gabi Greve

anonymous said...

By Marlene Mountain

on this cold

spring 1

2 night 3 4

kittens

wet

5


http://www.millikin.edu/haiku/writerprofiles/SoderbergOnMountain.html
(about halfway down the page)

Anonymous said...

as if it just spotted
a star
the pheasant cries

hitotsu hoshi mitsuketa yoo ni kiji no naku

.一星見つけたやうにきじの鳴

by Issa, 1814


Tr. David Lanoue
http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

.................................

hitotsuboshi, hitotsu hoshi ...
one star

.................................

Ella Wagemakers said...

only one cloud
but it covers the sky
summer afternoon

:>) Ella

anonymous said...

Thank you, gabi san, for sharing this informations.
A poor translation can ruin a poem.
Translation is an art form and the translator must have access to accurate texts, understand
the colloquial anguage of that day.
Gabi you are a precious resource. Arigato.

one fly
one man with two
large hands

rdw

anonymous said...

六月の造花の雄しべ雌しべかな   高柳克弘

rokugatsu no zôka no oshibe meshibe kana

stamens and pistils
of the artificial flowers
of June

Katsuhiro Takayanagi, 2004

Tr. Fay Aoyagi
http://fayaoyagi.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/todays-haiku-june-12-2009/

anonymous said...

Keito no/juushigohon mo/arinu
beshi

Coxcombs--
there must be
14 or 15 now

firebird 1878

http://groups.google.co.jp/group/pmjs/browse_thread/thread/932087f0011ab12a/c57414da81b13067?hide_quotes=no&pli=1

Anonymous said...

Third Month--
come the 30th day
the geese depart

sangetsu ya misoka ni narite kaeru kari

.三月や三十日になりて帰る雁

by Issa, 1811

The humor of this haiku lies in two facts: (1) the Third Month is the last month of spring in the old lunar calendar, and (2) "returning geese" is a spring season word. The geese have started north at the last possible moment: the day before summer.
Shinji Ogawa points out that kaeru in this context can be translated as "return" or "leave." Since this is a spring haiku, the wild geese are leaving Japan (i.e., returning to northern lands).

Tr. David Lanoue

Anonymous said...

春雨や窓も一人に一つづつ
harusame ya mado mo hitori ni hitotsu-zutsu

spring rain--
there's one window
per person

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)
.

daniel py said...

9/8/7
my friend
gone

(daniel.)

Gabi Greve said...

四五人の少女日迎へ桐畠
shigonin no shoojo hi mukae kiribatake

four, five young girls
welcoming the sun
at the paulownia plantation

Okai Shoji (Shooji) 岡井省ニ (1925 - 2001)

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

初花に命七十五年ほど
hatsu hana ni / inochi shichi jū / go nen hodo

Matsuo Basho

http://matsuobasho-wkd.blogspot.jp/2012/07/hatsumono-first-things.html

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa
- tr. Chris Drake

百尋の雨だれかぶる桜哉
momo-hiro no amadare kaburu sakura kana

raindrops falling
so far just to hit
cherry blossoms

lit. "100 hiro," or about 600 feet [a metaphorical
expression using an ancient word]

This hokku was written sometime between 1789 and 1809. The hiro unit was used when measuring length (especially of cloth, rope, and fishing line) or depth (of the ocean), and one hiro was of varying lengths in different contexts but was most commonly 5.97 feet, so the raindrops are literally falling about 600 feet, but the number 100 was frequently used to mean a vague large number, a meaning Issa seems to be using here.

Read the full comment :
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/translatinghaiku/message/4275

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

1 shaku is about 30 cm


二三尺人をはなるる雲雀哉
ni san shaku hito o hanaruru hibari kana

missing people
by two or three feet...
skylarks

Tr. David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

- one RI, two RI -

梅咲くや酒屋へ一里黄泉へ二里
ume saku ya sakaya e ichiri yomi e niri

plums are blossoming -
one ri distance to the liquor shop
two ri distance to the Yellow Springs

Anai Futoshi 穴井太 (1926 - 1997)


one RI 里 is about 3.93 kilometers.

- yomi, the Yellow Springs -
.