Issa Haiku in JapanesePosted: December 14, 2009 | Author: Doug | Filed under: Buddhism, Japan, Jodo Shinshu, Literature, Poetry, Zen | Leave a comment »
Similar to my recent streak of posts on Japanese haiku poetry by Basho, I wanted to post some haiku poetry in Japanese by another famous poet named Kobayashi Issa (小林一茶). Where Basho is frequently associated with Zen Buddhism, Issa was associated with Jodo Shinshu Buddhism due to his background as a lay priest. However, both are highly regarded poets, among others.
This poem of Issa’s was something I saw on my daughter’s TV show on NHK, nihongo de asobo:
大蛍 （おおほたる, ōhotaru）
ゆらりゆらりと (yurari yurari to)
通りけり （とおりけり, tōrikeri）
One way to translate this poem, I believe is:
A great, big firefly
swaying back and forth
passed me by
Fireflies of course are a reminder of warm summer nights, and other pleasant memories. I wonder though if 大蛍 (great firefly) might have also meant something else like the moon, or something. Most of the words here were too difficult for me to understand, so I had to rely on my online Japanese dictionary almost exclusively, plus some guesswork at the end. Other folks area more than welcome to input their translations or interpretations.