Itoen Judge’s Award

In 2004, one of my haiku was featured on thousands of cans of Itoen tea in vending machines all over Japan. I had submitted the poem on 27 February 2004 to the annual Itoen haiku contest (which receives something like 1.5 million haiku entries each year). On 28 July 2004, I learned that I had won the “Judge’s Award,” selected by Tsunehiko Hoshino. His comments on the poem said, A racing heartbeat that cannot be quelled, compared to the quiet rings that form on the still water. This is a piece with psychological depth.” I received prize money of ¥30,000 (then about $280), plus an entire case of the cans featuring my haiku (I believe it cost about $150 to have the case shipped to me!). As I recall, the can featuring my poem was made available in Japan in the summer of 2005. Here is the poem, which also appears on the Itoen haiku awards website, and three photographs of the can.

awaiting the test results—

rings on the pond

from falling leaves

直訳 [literal translation]:

試験の結果を待つ― 散る木の葉がつくる 池の水輪

shiken no kekka o matsu— chiru konoha ga tsukuru ike no mizuwa