Photo/IllutrationSnow blankets a Christmas market in Freiburg, Germany.

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Botchan’s room folding a mate for her paper egret

--Cezar-Florin Ciobica (Romania)

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ripe sorrel

a boy in a trance

stripping seeds

--David Cobb (United Kingdom)

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over a cup of tea


--Natsu Miyakawa (Tokyo)

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around and around

go the wheels

of my worries

--John Hawkhead (United Kingdom)

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market town--

the warm glow

of another purchase

--kj munro (Canada)

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tall trees--

listen to their


--Rita Odeh (Israel)

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silvery sound

popping up from

snowy branches

--Ikuyo Yoshimura (Gifu)

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mother shifts her chair

towards the scent of jasmine ...

moonlit garden

--Barnabas I. Adeleke (Nigeria)

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global warming

missing the point

of an icicle

--Deb Koen (United States)

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in a snowstorm

eight combines

rush the harvest

--Helen Herr (Canada)




Christmas market

a little boy looks

for matching snowflakes

--Ann Magyar (United States)

The haikuist won the grand prix in a contest that required her to pen a haiku about a photograph of a winter fair in Freiburg, Germany. Suggesting that our precious one-and-only world is filled with wonder, the top-prize winner described a scene in which the protagonist tries to disprove the scientific adage that no two snowflakes are ever the same shape. His parents might be shopping for matching socks and mittens or drinking scented wine. Haikuists from 42 countries around the world entered 3,571 works in English or Japanese to the 7th Setouchi Matsuyama International Photo-Haiku Contest. Including the 10 honorably mentioned haiku listed in the column above, 50 more were short-listed from 1,484 entries of photo-haiku in English. The following seven haikuists received certificates and prizes for winning works in the English language.

A haiku inspired by Dogo hotsprings in Matsuyama by Emiko Miyashita from Tokyo, and a haiku inspired by a photo of the Imperial Hotel in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, by Roberta Beary from Ireland, respectively won awards for excellence.

the bathtub

without those floating A, B, and C’s

short day

--Emiko Miyashita (Tokyo)

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grand hotel

the loneliness

of tea for one

--Roberta Beary (Westport, Ireland)

Additional aha-moment haiku entries were submitted with 442 awe-inspiring photos (up from 202 entered in last year’s contest) framed for a category that called for artistic literary works associated with sea themes.

The highest award went to a haiku and photo tribute to departed souls who were lost in a shipwreck off Jalisco, Mexico. The more times you read this haiku aloud, the more it sounds like waves on a seashore.

the sea

silent as lips of men

sleeping in its depths

--Mel Goldberg (Mexico)

Jiro Oba from Kawasaki, and Lucky Triana from Indonesia, respectively won awards for excellence for these haiku moments associated with scenes from the beach.

white sand

left on the soap

marine cabin

--Jiro Oba (Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture)

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low tide

a child tiptoeing

across the clouds

--Lucky Triana (Malang, Indonesia)

Two extra prizes were awarded to mark the 150th anniversary of the births of famed novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) and haiku poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) who shared a house in Matsuyama for two months. Born in Tokyo, Soseki lived in Matsuyama from 1895 to 1896 while teaching English and writing haiku for newspapers. Soseki later began writing full-time at The Asahi Shimbun from 1907. These two haiku were worthy winners of a prize named for two friends.

they sniff the wind

two young foals--


--Angela Giordano (Italy)

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Christmas stall

the stranger changes

into a friend

--Ralf Broker (Germany)

In all, 60 winning haiku in English were displayed at an international photo-haiku event held in Matsuyama on Feb. 3. The Shiki Memorial Museum auditorium’s 300 seats had been reserved well in advance by haiku enthusiasts. Prize-winners Jiro Oba from Kawasaki and Emiko Miyashita from Tokyo picked up their certificates during an awards ceremony. The judges of the Japanese and English competitions critiqued grand prix works. Television talent Natsui Itsuki discussed haiku on stage with former EU President Herman Van Rompuy from Belgium, who also exhibited haiku books and the work he has performed as a Japan-EU haiku ambassador. Arima Akito, president of the Haiku International Association based in Tokyo, gave a lecture on his efforts to have haiku designated on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

Congratulations go to all the haikuists whose participation contributed to the success of the 7th Matsuyama Photo-Haiku Contest supported by The Asahi Shimbun and the Asahi Culture Center.

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David McMurray has been writing the Asahi Haikuist Network column since April 1995, first for the Asahi Evening News. He is on the editorial board of the Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, columnist for the Haiku International Association, and is editor of Teaching Assistance, a column featuring graduate students in The Language Teacher of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT).

McMurray is professor of intercultural studies at The International University of Kagoshima where he lectures on international haiku. At the Graduate School he supervises students who research haiku. He is a correspondent school teacher of Haiku in English for the Asahi Culture Center in Tokyo.

McMurray judges haiku contests organized by Ito En Oi Ocha, Asahi Culture Center, Matsuyama City, Polish Haiku Association, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Seinan Jo Gakuin University, and Only One Tree.

McMurray's award-winning books include: "Only One Tree Haiku, Music & Metaphor" (2015); "Canada Project Collected Essays & Poems" Vols. 1 -- 8 (2013); and "Haiku in English as a Japanese Language" (2003).