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Emiko Miyashita on Issa

Emiko Miyashita

Kobayashi Issa is famous. It is likely that his name is mentioned after Matsuo Bashô and Yosa Buson, if you ask someone to name haiku poets in Japan. I still have not had a chance to read carefully through the entire works of Issa; however, his haiku seem to be scattered here and there in our daily lives even in this twenty-first century Japan.

I happened to be involved in one such Issa haiku project recently. I was asked to translate Issa's haiku by an advertising agency in the spring of 2006. The haiku was to be printed on a poster for the summer gift campaign of a department store. Here is the haiku that I translated with the help of Lee Gurga.

the cool breeze
winding its way through
has arrived

During the summer gift sales campaign, the posters were on the walls of subway stations and in the department store, hopefully attracting the attention of passers-by. Haiku is short and handy; one can read a haiku without stopping for it. I think the haiku had added an effect of a "cool breeze" quite successfully to the poster, designed with a painting of blue morning-glories. And again, Issa's name was reprinted in the eyes of many shoppers and passers-by, making him famous just a little bit more.