A Simple Universe

A Simple Universe

Sonō Uchida

William J. Higginson, introduction

Helen K. Davie, illustration

A collection of 24 haiku (including romaji) by a revered Japanese haiku master. Winner of a 1996 Merit Book Award for translation from the Haiku Society of America (for books published in 1995).

With eyes closed—

a simple twittering


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1995, perfectbound, 48 pages, 4¼ x 6 inches, ISBN 978-1-878798-14-6

  • “Haiku International, founded in 1989, is the world’s largest organization devoted to the study and appreciation of haiku in all languages. Its president, Sonō Uchida, is a former ambassador of Japan to Morocco, Senegal, and the Holy See at Rome. For two years he wrote a monthly column on haiku for Pacific Friend, an international English journal (similar to Life magazine) published monthly in Tokyo. He also writes a column called ‘International Haiku’ every Monday in the Daily Yomiuri. His mission, as president of Haiku International, is to promote haiku around the world, and to facilitate communication and understanding among those who write and study this brief form of poetry. Indeed, haiku are now read, enjoyed, and written by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, yet still, haiku remains a simple universe.” —from the back cover

  • “Sonō Uchida would like the world to become reconciled, and his haiku, like his diplomatic career, are devoted to the sort of reconciliation recommended by Bashō: ‘Learn of the pine from the pine.’ Observe; do not be too concerned with your own perceptions, but recognize each of the ten thousand things in its own place, its own legitimacy. Let it speak.” —from the introduction by William J. Higginson

Sonō Uchida was born in Singapore in 1924, and received his first lessons in haiku from Tannu Ozaki at the age of six. He studied at the graduate school of Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, 1950–51. Upon graduating from Tokyo University he entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, serving in Italy, Canada, Kenya, and Argentina, and as consul general in Seattle, Washington, before attaining the rank of ambassador with his appointments to Senegal in 1977 and Morocco in 1981. He concluded his diplomatic career as ambassador to the Holy See at Rome (the Vatican) in 1988. Uchida has been an honorary member of the Association of Haiku Poets (Haijin Kyōkai) and advisor of the Classical Haiku Association (Nihon Dentō Haiku Kyōkai). Having devoted much of his personal time to encouraging haiku outside of Japan, he was elected president of the Haiku International Association when it formed in Tokyo in December 1989 for the purpose of furthering the international exchange of haiku. A Simple Universe is Sonō Uchida’s first book of haiku in English.

Sonō Uchida died in 2009. Read an obituary, in Japanese.