Masters of Japanese Prints: Haiku

In autumn 2019, poets from around the world responded to a call for haiku, a form of short Japanese poetry, based on Japanese prints in the collection at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. People sent in more than 800 beautiful, thought-provoking poems from thirty countries worldwide. See the selection below.

Many poems were inspired by woodblock prints in our popular 2018-2019 exhibition series, Masters of Japanese Prints.

The project was arranged by haiku poets Alan Summers and Karen Hoy of creative writing consultancy Call of the Page. The call for poems was linked with a haiku workshop delivered at the museum with writer and producer Bertel Martin of City Chameleon.

Huge thanks to Alan, Karen and Bertel as well as to all the poets who took part. You are bringing the world together through poetry.

Why not try writing a haiku or other poem based on Bristol’s collections?

 

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Hokusai and Hiroshige Landscapes

Mishima: Morning Mist, 1833-34 - Mb4305

Japanese print of travelers. Porters in loin cloths carry a passenger in a litter. Another traveler rides on a horse.

morning mist
hides the shadows
of shadows

Elancharan Gunasekaran
Singapore

__

following the path
familiar to lost souls
the mist of morning

Vera Constantineau
Canada

__

autumn mist
for a fleeting moment
I become a ghost

Andy McLellan
United Kingdom

Japanese print of a landscape. Rain slants across the scene top left to bottom right. In the foreground there is a river bank with trees and roof tops. Middle is a bridge spanning the river with five arches and people standing on it. In the background there are a few buildings, trees, fields and an imposing mountain.

Summer dawn…
my thoughts surfing upon
the silent waters

Keith Simmonds
France

The Kintai Bridge in Suō Province, 1834 – Mb4868

The Amida Falls in the Far Reaches of the Kisokaidô Road

the blueness
of my thoughts
waterfall

Maria Tomczak
Poland

The Amida Falls in the Far Reaches of the Kisokaidō Road, 1833 – Mb4864

a japanese print, mainly blue and orange in colour. in the foreground is a boat with a number of people in traditional japanese dress heading towards land. there are small houses and trees in the background and people and a horse waiting for the boat

spring festival
the intermittent scent
of mandarin peels

Christina Chin
Malaysia

Kawasaki: The Rokugō Ferry, 1833-34 – Mb4300

japanese print of three figures walking through deep snow. a beautiful snowy mountain scene with houses, trees and mountains in the background all covered in snow

winter loneliness–
without your warmth,
the cold snow
chills my bare skin,
sinks into my bones

Susan Burch
United States

Kanbara: Night Snow, 1833-34 – mb4307

Japanese print of a landscape. Rain slants across the scene top left to bottom right. In the foreground there is a river bank with trees and roof tops. Middle is a bridge spanning the river with five arches and people standing on it. In the background there are a few buildings, trees, fields and an imposing mountain.
The Amida Falls in the Far Reaches of the Kisokaidô Road
a japanese print, mainly blue and orange in colour. in the foreground is a boat with a number of people in traditional japanese dress heading towards land. there are small houses and trees in the background and people and a horse waiting for the boat
japanese print of three figures walking through deep snow. a beautiful snowy mountain scene with houses, trees and mountains in the background all covered in snow

Three Women Viewing Cherry Blossom, about 1800-20 - Mb4392

Japanese print of Three Women Viewing Cherry Blossom, The women are dressed in elaborate traditional costume.

spring evening
the girls argue over
where the heart is

Nikolay Grankin, Russia

__

in each fold
of her silk kimono
cherry blossoms

Hifsa Ashraf, Pakistan

The Hollow of the Deep Sea Wave off Kanagawa, 1830-31 by Katsushika Hokusai - Mb4862

The Hollow of the Deep Sea Wave off Kanagawa

Only the wind can have its way with me

Raquel Bailey
Jamaica

__

out of darkness
a rogue thought
breaks into words

Greer Woodward
USA

__

on the beach…
the lingering sound
of her song long after
she left

Vandana Parashar
India

__

first meeting…
dog at the foundry gate
barks non stop

Robert Kingston
United Kingdom

__

shore to shore. . .
in the hollow of a wave
a refugee’s life

Carole MacRury
USA

__

Wild beauty admired
I never noticed the boats
Were they always there?

Tia Meraki
United Kingdom

__

the ocean
was in a rage last night
but today,
these peace offerings
of blue mussels and kelp

Debbie Strange
Canada

__

blinded by tears
under this mountainous sea
one hundred poems

Jim Young
Wales UK

The Jewel River In Musashi Province, 1830-31 - Mb4861

Japanese print of a landscape. A boat sails on the river. In the foreground a figure walks along the bank with a horse. Mount Fuji rises up in the background.

day dream
catching fish
nothing more

Isabella Kramer
Germany

___

path by the river–
where reeds filter stars

Robyn Cairns
Melbourne, Australia

Umezawa Manor in Sagami Province, 1830-31 - Mb4508

Japanese print of a landscape. In the foreground are five storks. Two additional storks fly over the landscape of hills and forests. Mount Fuji rises through the clouds.

cranes fly east
taking the mist
over Mount Fuji

Marilyn Ward
United Kingdom

__

today’s tablets
the Thirty-Six Views
of Mount Fuji

Mark Gilbert
United Kingdom

__

fuji fuji
at first sight the sound
of a small bird
for me it is the voice
of this mountain

Kath Abela Wilson
United States

Japanese print of Mount Fuji, dramatic in dark red, snow at the summit and fluffy clouds surrounding it.

a sudden drift
through the winding hallways
the scent of tea

Ernesto P. Santiago, Philippines

Sudden Shower beneath the Summit, 1830-31 – Mb4855

Japanese print of a snowy scene. A man stands on a raft and pushes on a pole in the water. A snow covered bank with trees rises up on the left. Snow falls from the sky.

snowstorm a hundred paper geese

Kat Lehmann
USA

Winter: Snow on the Sumida River, 1832-34 – Mb4827

Jo and Uba, the Ancient Couple of Takasago,

takasago pines. swish. of the old wife’s kimono. while grilling. salmon

Orrin PreJean
USA

Jō and Uba, the Ancient Couple of Takasago, about 1800-20 – Mb4353

Returning Boats, 1792-94. Japanese Print of a woman dressed in traditional robes, kneeling and rolling up a picture of a landscape.

Long journey unfolding the tattered kimono

Susan Beth Furst
US

Returning Boats, 1792-94 from the series Eight Fashionable Views – Mb4679

Japanese print of Mount Fuji, dramatic in dark red, snow at the summit and fluffy clouds surrounding it.
Japanese print of a snowy scene. A man stands on a raft and pushes on a pole in the water. A snow covered bank with trees rises up on the left. Snow falls from the sky.
Jo and Uba, the Ancient Couple of Takasago,
Returning Boats, 1792-94. Japanese Print of a woman dressed in traditional robes, kneeling and rolling up a picture of a landscape.

Sazai Hall of the Temple of the Five Hundred Arhats, 1830-31 - Mb4683 B

Japanese print of a group of people in elaborate traditional robes standing on a veranda looking out over the landscape. One of the porters points out Mount Fuji in the distance to them. Other porters sit on the floor resting the heavy boxes.talking Buddha–
soulful wiring
heart to heart

Lakshmi Iyer
India

__

sometimes
this household feels like a trap
I let my feet
bare without sandals
worship the mountain mist

Malintha Perera
Sri Lanka

Seven-Mile Beach in Sagami Province, 1859 - Mb4672 A

Japanese print of a landscape. In the foreground is the sea and a large wave curls over. Middle distance are wooded islands and a mountain. A flock of birds fly high in the sky..

the mountain
rising and falling
every day

Shane Pruett
United States

__

crashing waves…
the latitude of wishes

Shloka Shankar
India

A Picnic on the Seashore, Japanese print of a group of people dressed in elaborate traditional clothes seated and standing on a picnic mat.

on the beaches
fossilised stumps
of a primal forest
we too are leaving
our mark

Carol Jones, Wales

Picnic on the seashore, 1795-1800 – Mb 4680

 

Japanese print of a river scene. In the foreground there are waves and a boat full of passengers, the boatman steers with a pole. Many boats are on the water and a bridge spans the river. The far bank has buildings and trees and Mount Fuji is in the distance.

sunset on the sea …
I see dawn far away
in my homeland

Natalia Kuznetsova, Russia

Viewing Sunset over Ryōgoku Bridge from the Onmaya Embankment, 1830-31 – Mb4255

a beautiful japanese print of snow-covered Edo (now Tokyo). there is a japanese building on an island in the foreground, surrounded by water, boats and other islands in the distance. the sun is rising on the horizon

slow path
snow drifts me
into white space

Lovette Carter
United States

Snow on New Year’s Day at Susaki, 1831-32 – Mb4814

A Picnic on the Seashore, Japanese print of a group of people dressed in elaborate traditional clothes seated and standing on a picnic mat.
Japanese print of a river scene. In the foreground there are waves and a boat full of passengers, the boatman steers with a pole. Many boats are on the water and a bridge spans the river. The far bank has buildings and trees and Mount Fuji is in the distance.
a beautiful japanese print of snow-covered Edo (now Tokyo). there is a japanese building on an island in the foreground, surrounded by water, boats and other islands in the distance. the sun is rising on the horizon

Reflection in Lake Misaka, Kai Province, 1830-31 - Mb4853

Japanese print of a landscape showing the reflection of the mountain in Lake Misaka. In the foreground is the calm lake and a small boat. In the mid distance is the shore with green hills, inlets and villages. The mountain rises up behind.

shady side
a lone boat ripples
Mount Fuji’s peak

Bisshie
Switzerland

__

in the shadow of Mt. Fuji
my little book
of Hokusai’s views

Kjmunro
Canada

__

when I’m gone
let me float away
in a leaky boat
I’ll be catching clouds
and invisible fishes

Marta Chocilowska
Poland

Mishima Pass in Kai Province, 1830-31 - Mb4857

Japanese landscape. A trunk of a large tree in the centre with a group of people, in traditional dress, surrounding it having laid their packs down. Behind the tree travellers disappear down the path. Mount Fuji rises up in the background with fluffy clouds surrounding it.

trees growing all our lives beginning to shrink

Marisa Fazio
Melbourne, Australia

Japanese print. Raod weaves through the wooded mountains. Small figures walk along, porters carry heavy bundles, others walk with sticks. Sheltered resting places can be seen.

May Day
the hill
short of breath

Helen Buckingham
United Kingdom

No.27, Ashida, 1835-42 – Mb4846

Japanese print of a winter scene. Snow covers the trees. Figures, dressed in traditional clothes and hats, walk along the path. The path crosses the river over a bridge and leads to a building.

winter woodland
bereft of birdsong
with your passing
even clear days
are shadowed

Mary Kendall
USA

No. 15, Itahana, 1835-42 – Mb4285

Japanese print of a landscape. in the foreground is water with boats, the shoreline has buildings, behind these are trees and a temple on a hill. Rain slants top right, bottom left, across the scene.

cityscape
the many shapes
of loneliness

Hemapriya Chellappan
India

Rain at Azuma Bridge below Kinryūzan Temple in Asakusa, 1837-38 – Mb4830

Japanese print of a landscape. A road through mountains. Four travelers walk along the road in traditional dress carrying boxes and holding walking sticks.

journey
with each step
my temple

Rick Daddario
Hawai’i USA

No. 43, Tsumagome, 1835-42 – Mb4849

Japanese print. Raod weaves through the wooded mountains. Small figures walk along, porters carry heavy bundles, others walk with sticks. Sheltered resting places can be seen.
Japanese print of a winter scene. Snow covers the trees. Figures, dressed in traditional clothes and hats, walk along the path. The path crosses the river over a bridge and leads to a building.
Japanese print of a landscape. in the foreground is water with boats, the shoreline has buildings, behind these are trees and a temple on a hill. Rain slants top right, bottom left, across the scene.
Japanese print of a landscape. A road through mountains. Four travelers walk along the road in traditional dress carrying boxes and holding walking sticks.

Nature and Seasons

Courtesan Reading a Letter, 1765-80 by Torii Kiyomitsu I (1735-85) - Mb4781

Japanese print of a woman dressed in traditional clothes, she sits by a window with blossom outside, and reads a long scroll of paper, a cat playfully grabs the paper from under the bench.

despite the distance spring moon

Tim Gardiner
UK

__

withering blooms
my heart fades fast
like ink on paper

Jesus Chameleon
Guam, USA

__

a single note
from his song pouch
the flower moon

Princess k
USA

__

lover’s letter
her kitten reads
the end first

Lorraine Pester
USA

__

your
unfinished letter…
I am lost
in the shadows
of those unsaid words

Madhuri Pillai
Melbourne, Australia

__

the giggles
of my secret lover…
blossoms

Réka Nyitrai
Romania

__

your words
passing my fingers
enter my heart

Elaine Morris
United Kingdom

Japanese print of a couple dressed in traditional clothes, the woman has her eyes covered and is looking for the man partly hidden behind a large open umbrella.

spring entertainment
mother and daughter seeking
common memory

Jules Paige
United States of America

Hide and Seek, about 1800-20 by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) – Mb4509

Japanese print of two flying dragonflies and grasses bending behind them.

this quiet space
between missing you
and moving on . . .
I catch myself whispering
to a dragonfly

Christine Villa
United States

Dragonflies and rice, about 1800-1840 by Totoya Hokkei (1780-1850) – Mb4354

Japanese print of a couple dressed in traditional clothes, the woman has her eyes covered and is looking for the man partly hidden behind a large open umbrella.
Japanese print of two flying dragonflies and grasses bending behind them.

Cherry blossoms in full bloom at Arashiyama, 1834 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797–1858) - Mb4276

Japanese print of a river scene, two men punt their barge down the river, people walk along the banks through the cherry trees.

the soft brush
of our hands folding sheets
cherry blossoms

Claire Vogel-Camargo
USA

__

full bloom–
a boatman inhales
his lost childhood

Goran Gatalica
Croatia

__

pink-tinged clouds…
the petals begin to fall
in abundance

Mary Jo Balistreri
USA

Cherry-blossom viewing at Asuka Hill, 1853 by Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826–69) - Mb4381

Japanese print of a large group of children and adult, all dressed in the same traditional clothes and holding umbrellas, they walk amongst the trees, picnickers sit under the trees in the background.

amazon flames
the cry from my inner heart

Mafizuddin Chowdhury
India

__

geisha girls wait
for a dignitaries’ garden tour–
umbrella dance feature

Karen O’Leary
United States

 

Cherry Blossom, 1843-45 by Utagawa Yoshitora (active 1836-1887) - Mb4391/11

Japanese print of a person dressed in elaborate traditional clothes walking among the cherry blossom.

buying a new
cherry blossom kimono
as if it could
replace
his spring kisses

Pamela A Babusci
United States

__

woman in love
even the cherry blossoms
are double

Vessislava Savova
Bulgaria

 

The Ide Jewel River, a Famous Place in Yamashiro Province, 1766–67 by Suzuki Harunobu (1725-70) - Mb4766

Japanese print of three women in traditional clothes, they hold their skirts up as they walk through water, two are barefoot, one wears platform shoes, the bank behind has flowers on it.

mountain breath
letting those dreams go
that never came true

Judit Hollos
Hungary

__

yamabuki flowers…
i too
bear no fruit

Isabel Caves
New Zealand

Woman of Ōhara with Firewood Bundle and Kite, 1799 by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) - Mb4368

Japanese print of a woman dressed in traditional clothes carrying bundles of twigs on her head.

searching for her child
how tightly she clings
to the kite string

Lucy Whitehead
United Kingdom

__

that final spring
we were together flying
our kite until
you let loose of the string
and heart from soul divided

an’ya
USA

Woman with a sparrow, 1770-90 by Isoda Koryusai (1735-90) - Mb4472

Japanese print of a woman dressed in traditional clothes holding a cage, she looks down at a small bird sitting on the floor next to an open door with a garden outside.

chasing her sparrow
in the peony garden
teenage courtesan

Joanne Morcom
Canada

__

peonies in bloom
the free sparrow sings
a forgotten song

Richa Sharma
India

Lantern Seller, 1849–51 by Utagawa Kunisada I (1786-1864)

Japanese print of a man standing, dressed in traditional clothes and platform shoes, he takes a lantern from a stand of many small lanterns,

fragrant breeze
the lantern seller’s wish
come true

Stella Pierides
England UK

__

three Chinese lanterns
drift past glowing orange
one by one they die
leaving me staring
into a pitch black sky

Lee Jackson
United Kingdom

__

summer heat –
his shaved head glistens
in the lamplight

Sandra Simpson
New Zealand

Enjoying the cool of evening on the riverbed at Shijo, 1834 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) - Mb4280

Japanese print of a landscape, in the foreground a group of two men and three women (geisha), dressed in traditional clothes, sit on a platform eating by the river bank, one woman stands and holds a fan to her face. On the other side of the river there are lots of other platforms and people, mountains rise up behind.

summer river
the thing you keep
secret

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Indonesia

__

kissed moon
all those unfinished poems
underwater

Wendy Bialek
US

Catching Sweetfish in the Tama River under the Autumn Moon, 1841 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) - Mb4274

Japanese print of a river scene, fishermen dressed in loin cloths and traditional clothes, stand on the banks with baskets, others wade and bend over in the water, In the distance is a bridge, mountains and a full moon.

not the fishing
it’s the moon and willows
that spell-bind

Nick Sherwood
United Kingdom

__

slipping through
a fisherman’s fingers–
nostalgia

Michael O’Brien
Finland

__

small hopes
pippies burrow
along the shoreline

Nancy Liddle
Australia

Autumn Moon at Ishiyama Temple, 1834-35 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) - Mb4828

Japanese print of a landscape, to the left is a small building nestled in high wooded hills, to the right is a river, a distant bridge and Mount Fuji and the full moon rising behind.

abandoning her lovers
she dedicates poems to
the autumn moon

Marita Gargiulo
USA

__

tropical rainforest
bulldozed under
a hazy moon

Gary Hittmeyer
USA

__

from one window
to another–
harvest moon

Eva Limbach
Germany

__

sleeplessness
we look at each other
me and the moon

Małgorzata Formanowska
Poland

Tree Crickets and Firefly, 1788 by Kitagawa Utamaro I (1753-1806) - Mb4797

Japanese prints, pages of a book, showing a close of plants with four butterflies and insects crawling on them.

fireflies field
stars not that alluring
anymore

Tomislav Sjekloća
Montenegro

__

late summer
crickets winding back down
to zero

Kristen Lindquist
United States

Meguro Drum Bridge and Sunset Hill, 1857 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) - Mb4819

Japanese print of a snowy landscape, people dressed in traditional clothes cross the bridge to some buildings, a river weaves through the scene and snow ladened trees rise from the banks.

evening chill
this snow the colour
of blossoms

Gregory Piko
Canberra, Australia

__

The story
Swept downstream
Shaken by my insignificance.

Ceri Love
United Kingdom

 

Life in the City

Fishing Boats with Nets under Ryōgoku Bridge, 1790 by Kitagawa Utamaro I (1753-1806) - Mb4757

Japanese print of a busy river scene. Boats with passengers in traditional dress sail on the river, a woman climbs onto the canopy. A bridge spans the river and people walk over it.

night fishing
we cast moonbeam nets
across the stars

John Hawkhead
United Kingdom

__

heavy net
the eyes of a fish
become still

Jacob Salzer
USA

__

marketplace
the sound of ocean song
in children’s laughter

Veronika Zora Novak
Canada

 

Japanese print of scene of a chaotic bridge crossing. People dressed in traditional robes, some men in loin cloths and women in kimonos. Fishermen carrying baskets of fish, others push hand carts. In the distance we see the river, buildings, mountains and Mount Fuji.

plank by plank
the bridge carries
mount fuji home

Roberta Beary
Ireland

Clearing Weather at Nihonbashi, 1843–47 by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848) – Mb4259

Japanese print of a harbour scene. A boat is moored at the quay and men are unloading it and carrying bundles of cargo up the steps behind.

new year’s day
fishing boats resting by the river market

Pamela Yee Wah Coughlan
Singapore

Boats Docking at Hachikenya Naniwa (Osaka), 1834 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) – Mb4282

Japanese print of a man, in traditional robes, kneeling at a table, He is holding a puppet of a woman dressed in a kimono.

delicate features
the puppeteer plays out
a different life

Marion Clarke
Northern Ireland

Puppeteer with a Puppet on a Go Board, about 1820–30 by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) – Mb4366

Japanese print of a street scene. Either side of the street are buildings with banners outside, which recede away to a central vanishing point. A vast crowd of people walk towards us, in the street, dressed in traditional costume.

cherry blossoms
the colour of strangers
underneath

Eva Su
Indonesia

Theatres in Nichōmachi, 1832-38 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) – Mb4382

Japanese print of scene of a chaotic bridge crossing. People dressed in traditional robes, some men in loin cloths and women in kimonos. Fishermen carrying baskets of fish, others push hand carts. In the distance we see the river, buildings, mountains and Mount Fuji.
Japanese print of a harbour scene. A boat is moored at the quay and men are unloading it and carrying bundles of cargo up the steps behind.
Japanese print of a man, in traditional robes, kneeling at a table, He is holding a puppet of a woman dressed in a kimono.
Japanese print of a street scene. Either side of the street are buildings with banners outside, which recede away to a central vanishing point. A vast crowd of people walk towards us, in the street, dressed in traditional costume.

In Sensō-ji Temple, 1782 by Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1812) - Mb4788

Japanese print with four women, dressed in traditional clothes visiting a temple.

Tiger Hill shrine –
facing the peaks towards
their lost homeland
Tibetan pilgrims offer
prayers and butter lamps

Sonam Chhoki
Bhutan

Japanese print of a river scene. Several boats sail under the wooden struts of the bridge above. People can be seen walking over the bridge.

fireworks above a bridge —
thinking if all my dreams
come true

Muskaan Ahuja
India

Enjoying the Evening Cool at Ryōgoku Bridge, 1832–34 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) – Mb4584

Japanese print of a river scene at night. Many boats are on the river displaying their banners. A bridge arches the river and people are standing on it. Above the sky is full of stars.

beneath stars ordering themselves for the Emperor

Autumn Noelle Hall
USA

The Tenma Tenjin Festival at Night in Naniwa (Osaka), a Perspective Picture, about 1773-78 by Utagawa Toyoharu (1735-1814) – Mb4329

Japanese print of a group of women dressed in traditional clothes. One women stands and looks outside. Another is crouching down with a third standing and looking at her. Behind them another woman holds a tray with three bowls on it. At the back of the room are shelves and a figure looking at them.

rooftop bar
my haiku overflows
with show and tell

Srinivasa Rao Sambangi
India

Preparations for a Party, 1791–93 by Katsukawa Shunshō (active 1780-1801) – Mb4490

 

Japanese print with of a woman wearing traditional clothes, light blue with white flowers and black sash. She is holding a small bowl on a small tray. Japanese text either side of the figure.

afternoon lightness
in a cup of tea
paulownia flowers

Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo
Netherlands

Okita of the Naniwaya teahouse, 1793 by Kitagawa Utamaro I (1753-1806)

Japanese print of a river scene. Several boats sail under the wooden struts of the bridge above. People can be seen walking over the bridge.
Japanese print of a river scene at night. Many boats are on the river displaying their banners. A bridge arches the river and people are standing on it. Above the sky is full of stars.
Japanese print of a group of women dressed in traditional clothes. One women stands and looks outside. Another is crouching down with a third standing and looking at her. Behind them another woman holds a tray with three bowls on it. At the back of the room are shelves and a figure looking at them.
Japanese print with of a woman wearing traditional clothes, light blue with white flowers and black sash. She is holding a small bowl on a small tray. Japanese text either side of the figure.