with Dr. Akito Arima by Emiko Miyashita & Robert
member of the House of Councillors, Japan's equivalent
to the U.S. Senate,
Dr. Arima continues to serve both science and
Japan's rising international consciousness by
bringing the knowledge gained in his years of
scientific and poetic work to bear on the problems
of the new century. He understands the necessity
for international unity in the face of dwindling
natural resources and increased environmental
destruction, growing human population and energy
demands, the need for global sustainability,
and the continuing threat of nuclear weapons.
He stands at the forefront of those attempting
to build an international consensus aimed at
securing the future of humanity and the very
life of the planet.While Dr. Arima was pursuing
his dual career as a world-class nuclear physicist
and internationally recognized educational administrator,
he also became an outstanding leader among Japan's
haiku poets and a great supporter of haiku worldwide.
His haiku mentor was Seison Yamaguchi (1892-1988),
one of the important disciples of Kyoshi Takahama
who helped carry the tradition of haiku into
the modern world. Seison's dual life as professor
of engineering and haiku master may have provided
a role model for the younger poet-scientist."
J. Higginson (from the introduction to Dr.
Arima's book of haiku,"Einstein's Century")
Q) What, besides the obvious, is haiku?
A) Haiku is a dialogue.
Q) Why are kigo words important?
A) Because human beings and the whole of nature have been
Q) An educated European couple talking with a friend of
mine recently, had this to say about haiku:
"I'm sorry to say that haiku doesn't do very much for us. They are nothing
more then mere nature observations..."
What is your response?
A) It sounds like what people who do not know the depth
of the nature would say.
Q) How is haiku more accessible to the general
populace than longer, occidental style poetry?
A) We might be able to say that in many cases
the subjects of the occidental style poems are human love or philosophy.
While such subjects require a longer form, haiku, which captures
the depth or the beauty of nature through one's intuition, can
remain short. This shortness is the distinctive feature of haiku.
A short form is also less intimidating to compose.
There are about one million haiku poets in Japan. Haiku has become popular
outside Japan, too. In addition to the fact that we all live with and in nature,
I think its shortness is the key to the accessibility of haiku among the general
Q) What do you look for when writing a haiku?
A) I try to capture the feelings of "The Fours":
in a year--the four seasons; in a month--the four stages of the waxing
and waning of the moon; in a day--morning, afternoon, evening, and night.
Q) What is the most invaluable lesson learned while studying
under your mentor, the late Seison Yamaguichi?
A) To honor truth, virtue, and beauty.
Q) What advice do you have for those who are new to the
writing of haiku?
A) Love nature and love people.