For the annual meeting of 1978, the critic Kenkichi Yamamoto and the haiku poet Sumio Mori were invited by the HSA to come from Japan to speak on haiku. Held on September 17 at Japan House in New York City, this historic occasion was opened by HSA President Cor van den Heuvel welcoming the distinguished speakers and thanking those who had helped make the event possible, especially the co-sponsor, Japan Society, HSA vice president Yasko Karaki, Kazuo Sato of Tokyo’s Museum of Haiku Literature, and Japan Air Lines. [See 1978 exhibit photos.] A short address by Yukio Sugano, representing the Consul General of Japan, stressed the universality of haiku and the value of the HSA’s efforts on its behalf. Yasko Karaki introduced the two speakers. Takako Lento interpreted for them as they gave their talks.
Kenkichi Yamamoto (1907–1988) is described in A Haiku Path as being “the most influential haiku critic and commentator in modern times” (163). Sumio Mori (1919–2010) was editor of the haiku journal Kanrai (Cold Thunder) from 1957 to 1971, and was one of Japan’s leading haiku poets. The talks given by these two poets and scholars appeared in Frogpond 1:4, 1978, and in A Haiku Path (pages 163 to 173).
As is common among the Japanese, the two visitors came with a generous gift, as described in A Haiku Path (174):
Messrs. Yamamoto and Mori brought with them a set of twenty-four haiku written on shikishi by contemporary Japanese haiku poets as a gift from the Museum of Haiku Literature in Tokyo to the Haiku Society of America. A shikishi is a more or less square decorative paperboard and is commonly used by the haiku poet to write his haiku for presentation or display. The twenty-four shikishi were displayed at Japan House during the HSA annual meeting.
Those in the audience each received a copy of Haiku Selected for Shikishi, with one-line translations of the twenty-four haiku by Hiroaki Sato. The booklet was published by Ikuta Press in Kobe, Japan, in an edition of 500 copies, which were also given to current and future HSA members until they ran out. The following poets were represented by the shikishi (names given here in Japanese order, surname first):