What is Nippoem?

A journal for new translations of high-quality Japanese poetry in bilingual format, focusing on the twin forms of haiku and senryu—Japan’s most unique and significant poetic products.

Why is this website necessary?

Haiku, and increasingly senryu, have become an integral part of poetry outside Japan and developed their own independent existence. But in the process, much of their connection to their Japanese origins, in form as well as content and outlook, has been blurred or lost. My aim here is to take us all back to those origins and put real Japanese poetry back on the world stage again—for the benefit of poets, readers, and students of Japan’s language and culture.

How does Nippoem work?

Each poem is shown in a separate post. Japanese poetry is generally untitled, so the post title is simply a serial number. Clicking on the number will take you to the poem’s page, where you can write comments and share the poem with others.

Each poem appears in English translation first, followed by the original in Japanese script and a romanized transliteration, so that readers with no knowledge of Japanese can know what the original poems sounds like.

The poet’s name appears in English and Japanese characters. Depending on the person, this may be a well-known literary name (e.g., Bashō 芭蕉) or a conventional name (e.g., Natsume Sōseki 夏目漱石) in the Japanese order—family name first. Poet names are also used as tags for conveniently finding all poems by the same author. For poems with an anonymous or unknown author, the name of the collection is given instead.

Lastly, there is commentary on words and cultural concepts where necessary.

Native Japanese forms of poetry are typically written in a single line, and the writing haiku in three separate lines is a foreign practice. Here I follow the Japanese style, as part of the mission of getting as close as possible to the original.

Priority is given to poems that are relatively universal in content and can speak to humans everywhere without much explanation.

Who runs this place?

Nippoem is a project of Dan Bornstein. I am a language specialist in Japanese and lived in Japan for eight years—four in Kyoto and four in Tokyo. I am also a writer of fiction and haiku/senryu poetry in English and Hebrew. You can find me and read my work at my bilingual personal website: danbornstein.com. To contact me, you’re welcome to use the contact page.

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Journal of Japanese Poetry Translation

All rights reserved to Dan Bornstein