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Advanced Japanese Lesson: いくたびも

正岡子規(まさおか しき)






Today, I would like to introduce a winter Haiku. The character “snow” can be found, therefore it’s easy to tell that it is talking about winter.

Shiki Masaoka is a literary person who represents the Meiji Period, and not only did he write Haiku, but his talents also flourished in Tanka and critiques.

The Haiku means, “to ask again and again the depth of the snow.”

When this haiku was made, it snowed heavily in Tokyo. However, Shiki was in bed with an illness. Therefore, he wasn’t able to go outside and  see the falling snow.  Apparently he asked his sister and mother who were nursing him over and over again “how much snow is on the ground.”

Snow announces the arrival of full blown winter, but if it’s the first fall of the season or if it’s been a while since it snowed, both children and adults feel excited. This kind of exciting feel most likely was felt by Shiki as well. By imagining the sight of snow outside, for a brief moment, it perhaps made him forget about his illness and made his heart dance.

By the way,  Shiki being a pen name, also can be read as lesser cuckoo, and when he had tuberculosis and was coughing up blood, this name was given to him when the comparison was made to the lesser cuckoo which “sings until it coughs up blood.”

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