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Happy New Year of the Tiger!

A happy new year and also a happy year of the tiger to you!

Being that it’s the year of the tiger, I thought it might be interesting to present a haiku with one stalking in it:


                                              waga umi ari hikage makkura na tora ga ari

                                              a lake in my heart
                                              on its banks prowls the shadow
                                              of a tiger all black

                                              —Kaneko Tōta

The above was found in the back of Ban’ya Natsuishi’s haiku collection A Future Waterfall (2nd revised edition, translated by Richard Gilbert, Stephen Henry Gill, Jim Kacian, David G. Lanoue & Ban’ya Natsuishi).

Natsuishi notes that this poem is “without any seasonal element” and believes it “was inspired by the depths of the author’s consciousness, and there were no links with Japanese feeling. The ‘tiger’ hidden in the Wilds of Mother Nature represents the author’s double.”

In addition, here is something Dimitar Anakiev recently wrote about it:

“The roots of the poem lie in the past, perhaps in the jungles far removed from Japan where many Japanese soldiers were sent to fight during WWII. This poem is in fact a kind of ‘inner landscape,’ examples of which we find in abstract painting but also in the classical music of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, or Mahler, or in the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and many other explorers of unknown mind” (“Unknown Mind in Haiku: Insights into the Nature of the Creation of Haiku,” Modern Haiku 40.1).

This was the haiku that came to my mind for the new year. What comes to yours?

Also, Don Wentworth had a little New Year’s Haiku/Tanka Challenge.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I love all the lore of the tiger as I was born in the year of the tiger…and somehow I am having a feeling just like Eve’s haiku…
    “they stay quite still”…I keep feeling like something is going to happen…and I’ve been croaching in the grass waiting to see what it is.

  2. I can’t say that the following “came to my mind” but I was delighted to discover it during a brief bit of reading on New Year’s day.

    hatsuharu o nose tenbin no sieshi seru

    Placing the new year
    on a set of scales —
    they stay quite still

    Michi Shibuya

    from the Haiku Universe for the 21rst Century
    Haiku Translation Supervisor: David Burleigh

  3. ‘Tiger’..interesting that Dimitar Anakiev mentions, ” … the jungles far removed from Japan where many Japanese soldiers were sent to fight during WWII. ”

    a lake in my heart
    on its banks prowls the shadow
    of a tiger all black

    —Kaneko Tōta
    Here is a hidden tiger, and a rare one (all black tigers did happen, probably not anymore, since there are so few left in the world) its presence only revealed by its shadow.

    But those jungles not so far removed from Japan as to not have been invaded, and tigers (Malayan Tiger) are the animal symbol for Malaysia, and . . .

    虎 Tiger

    “I will suppose you already know what a tiger is, so how about some trivia: If you look at the Japanese pronunciation, you might remember a movie called “Tora Tora Tora” which was the code word used to initiate the attack on Pearl Harbor. It simply means “Tiger Tiger Tiger”.

    In Chinese culture, the tiger is considered to be the king of all animals (in much the way we see the lion in western culture). ”

  4. a lake in my heart
    on its banks prowls the shadow
    of a tiger all black

    —Kaneko Tōta

    ‘Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger — An idiom describing undiscovered talent.

    You might think this title is in reverse, but actually this is the original idiom. The movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was actually a play on words or order reversal of this old Chinese idiom.

    The meaning is that both the tiger and dragon have amazing talents, but if they are out of view, you may have not discovered them. It can be said of someone with amazing ability that keeps that ability hidden.’

  5. hmmm. . . following the Japanese, perhaps the Western world might consider moving Easter Monday to January 1st?


  6. well, I can’t help but remark that the Year of the Tiger begins on February 14th (or 15th, depending where you are in the world), this year, in all countries *except* Japan, which compromised by moving an old tradition to conform with the Western Calendar. (a puzzle, in some ways, for a people seemingly so aware of the moon) Yet I’ve been seeing ‘Year of the Tiger’ announced, unqualified, all around the ‘haiku world’ recently.

    Pedantic? Maybe so, but it messes with people’s traditions as well as with time-honoured Asian astrology to give the impression that ‘it’s the Year of the Tiger’ already. If you are born today, you are not a Tiger, but an Ox.

    I will be waiting until Chinese New Year for the Year of the Tiger… :-) gives me a second chance at New Year, and I like the festival.


  7. Happy New Year all… I understand that thewhite metal tiger is supposed to usher in a period of serious changes in every sphere of life…certainly, it seems to me to be fertile ground for “gendai haiku”.
    So I watch and try to learn… Good thing THF is here to guide us through. And thanks Gabi for all the wonderful links you provide.

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