Goto Takatoshi



Goto Takatoshi (Gotoo Takatoshi)
五島高資 (ごとう・たかとし) 別号・篁風 (こうふう).

Born 1968 in Nagasaki

© 五島高資のプロフィール

Graduated from Jichi Medical School.
In 1995 the Modern Haiku Association Debut Prize.
In 1997 Sweden Haiku Prize.
In 2001 the Modern Haiku Association Critic Prize.
The representative director of "Haiku Square" since 1998.
© "Haiku Square"

© 俳句スクエア

Takatoshi Gotoh / Reference


review: *Thunderbolt* by Takatoshi Gotoh

a review by Zolo

The first thing one immediately notices about *Thunderbolt*, a brand new offering by award-winning Japanese haiku poet, Takatoshi Gotoh, is that it is truly beautiful to look at. The next thing a western reader might notice is the right to left orientation of the book, the reverse of our usual reading order, an amusing confusion to think for just a moment that the front is where the back should be! That soon passes, and one sees a cover that is a strikingly powerful piece of digital art:

under thunderbolts
a string of electric lights
ignites bare branches


The poems themselves are compelling, using concise and effective language to draw the reader in deeply. The imagery is highly original and interesting, yet it reflects everyday things. And they strike the reader as genuine realizations.

Some pieces that immediately caught my eye:

The skyscraper in the winter rain
just like a vein

. . . a poem with tremendous movement and scope, and while we rarely use similes or metaphors in English-language haiku, I feel this is completely successful. The comparison of the skyscraper, flowing with light and life in the winter rain, and a vein, is almost like stating a synonym. . . they are profoundly alike, only one is a man-made achievement flowing with the lives of people and business. . . and the other a natural conduit of the life force.

Beams of light are sweet
in the splash of the waterfall

. . . again, a taste of sweet light, a splash of sweet water carrying it to us. . . wondrous interpenetration of forces.

In the desert island
with their mouth open

. . .the paradoxes contained in this poem are almost indescribable. . . to find convolvuli on a desert island, first. . . and then, to find their mouths open, fantastic! From the barren island, the beauty of the convolvuli grows. . . & yet, with open mouths expressing the hunger of the desert
island setting.

In some poems, such as the piece above, the translations have a slightly off-grammar appeal, something I find charming in a translation, and which somehow enhances the unusual qualities of the images with a syntax that lends a rather exotic tone to the poems. I find this far more acceptable in the exchange of languages than translations that become too deeply interpretive.

What part of my body,
I wonder,
is a jellyfish

. . .wonderful humor, and a deep realization, all the evolution of man is contained within this rhetorical question.

It seems to be still another room
deep in the azuki-bean jelly

. . .again, marvelous, we are immediately transported to "another room", directly in the metaphysical world of interconnected realities from the mundane glimpse within the shimmer of azuki-bean jelly!

A nuclear power plant
beyond a road mirage

. . .breathtaking! Amazing imagery and juxtaposition. The fusion of natural elements to create a "road mirage" waving before the stark reality of the "power plant". . . the suggestion, really, almost more than we can speak about!

The summer clouds;
I'm falling into a doze
on the toilet seat

. . .great humor! Vivid, and real. Fine English-language haiku.

The auroral dawn
is treasured
in the oyster

. . .simply beautiful, the language in perfect keeping with the context, and an epiphany in unity.

These are just a few samples that jumped out at me at once, and there are so many more to contemplate and enjoy!

In a letter, Takatoshi said to me:

"You know, I am very interested in the supernatural beyond the language.
Beyond the language we may catch a glimpse of the truth and the existence of myself. I believe that Haiku holds a unique position and bring us another world through "Kire" which is a device developed by Basho Matsuo. Polyphony rising from monophony in "Kire" is the core of Haiku, I guess."

And I guess that this is a book many haiku poets will want to read, for Takatoshi Gotoh approaches the haiku with discipline and humor, always with an eye open to a broader sensibility, and as a philosophical tool, an instrument that opens doors to an elastic dimension.


senkyuuhyaku kyuujuunen no hamaya kana

a lucky arrow
for the year nineteenhundred
ninety nine

Goto Takatoshi (Gotoo) 五島高資
Numbers in Haiku

Tr. Gabi Greve


Japanese Reference


Related words

***** Introducing Japanese Haiku Poets 


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