Photo/Illutration (Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)

the scent of diesel seagulls squabbling over a dead bass
--Corine Timmer (Faro, Portugal)
* * *
in a sea of waves
--Anne-Marie McHarg (London, England)

* * *

almost a friend
the seagull
with the broken wing
--Eva Limbach (Saarbruecken, Germany)

* * *

gone south
quarrel of seagulls
I’m not well either
--Zdenka Mlinar (Zagreb, Croatia)

* * *

plants from the tropics
new roommates
--Satoru Kanematsu (Nagoya)

* * *

the king tide storms
city hall
--Lev Hart (Calgary, Canada)‎

* * *

winter shore--
a different self
wades in
--our thomas (Exeter, New Hampshire)

* * *

orange sunset
halfway through my wine glass
surfing the red waves
--Lorelyn De la Cruz Arevalo (Bombon, Philippines)

* * *

island vineyard
salt at the end
of your sip
--Pippa Phillips (St. Louis, Missouri)

* * *

At the horizon
Of the ocean
Old bottles
--Christopher Calvin (Java, Indonesia)


Balmy night
missing Tohta’s sharks
plum blossoms
--Satoru Kanematsu (Nagoya)

This haiku links mysterious sights and smells with the afterworld. Plum blossoms have a delightful fragrance that is picked up by our olfactory senses on warmer days at this time of year. The haikuist commemorated Tohta Kaneko’s Feb. 20, 2018, death by invoking his haiku: ume sai te niwaju ni aozame ga kite iru.

Ume blooms
everywhere blue sharks
the garden

Cherry blossoms are thought to be unscented. However, the flowering cherry on Izu-Oshima, the largest of Tokyo Prefecture’s outlying islands, is praised for its showy flowers, edible fruit, medicinal leaves and powerful fragrance. It is the paternal Prunus speciosa of the beautiful “somei-yoshino” cherry tree variety that Mihaela Babusanu recalled hazily in Bacau, Romania. A fellow haikuist in nearby Jibou, Mircea Moldovan, prefers the Prunus avium.

back into lockdown--
becoming blurred in my mind
cherry blossom scent

* * *

a book...
wild cherry’s shadow cools
my island

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was almost rendered speechless when he landed on Oshima island in Miyagi Prefecture, and viewed the Matsushima islands further off in the ocean: shimajima ya chiji ni kudakete natsu no umi.

All those islands!
a thousand shattered pieces
the sea in summer

This repeating haiku, an apocryphal musing, is often misattributed to the haiku master’s love for the islands: Matsushima ya ah Matsushima ya! Matsushima ya!

Organizers of the Ito En Oi Ocha New Haiku Contest awarded 14-year-old Yujiro Shimizu with the grand prize in its 3oth contest for a haiku that Arthur Binard, the contest’s judge, suggested “imparted that another fish will then follow, and then another after that.”

Cool river
A fish jumps
Another fish jumps

Hanamo Namiki participated in making Amami-style New Year’s fish soup in a home economics class held last December at Oshima Kita High School. That same month she won a local newspaper prize for a delicious-smelling haiku entered into a contest organized by the International University of Kagoshima. Also from the remote Amami-Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture, Aoi Ikeda heard in January that she had won a prize for an aromatic haiku entered into an international haiku contest organized in Akita.

grandmother braises the chicken
praying for a newborn baby
a starry night

* * *

Autumn breeze and
under the persimmon tree
cool of the evening

On a trip to the island of Sicily, Junko Saeki from Tokyo said she was “stunned to find a structure exactly like the Parthenon in Greece … on top of a hill, but surrounded by cactuses and tall trees.” She was struck by the ancient urge to “reproduce home” using whatever was available locally, noting this “also holds true for today’s immigrants.”

a red Parthenon
ancient Greeks away from home
Sicilian rain

Minko Tanev recommends a visit to sail the cobalt colored waters of the smallest sea in the world where you can compose haiku about the outlines of islands and an archipelago with marble remnants of classical antiquity.

Marmara Sea
the Prince’s Islands
rising in the mist

A delicious odor triggered Angela Giordano’s memory of her maternal home in Avigliano, Italy: in the ancient village the inviting scent of fish soup.

Calvin tried a medicinal potion on Java Island.

Winter storm
even the taste of fish soup
an elixir

Ken Sawitri’s haiku was inspired by a “popular dish full of aromatic herbs and spices.” Explaining that “nearly every island has its traditional version,” her favorite is made with ariid catfish, peppers and chilies from the north coast of Central Java.

hot fish head soup
I forget we are

Timmer salivated in this one-line haiku: a dew-spangled spider web my dry mouth.

Luciana Moretto enjoyed a cookie shaped like a sea bass, which in Venetian dialect is called “baicoli.” Sailors ate these dry biscuits during long sea voyages.

dunking buttered baicoli
in hot cocoa with bubbles...
let it snow!

Ram Chandran didn’t wait for the rain to subside before slurping a broth made from freshwater carp at a street market in Madurai, India.

roadside stall--
more the rain
hotter the rohu soup

Limbach and Vladislav Hristov, respectively, were disappointed with the fisher’s catch, whereas Dina Towbin was doubly delighted in Washington, D.C.

overfished oceans
the freshly cooked chowder
without bones

* * *

fish soup
without fish
new moon

* * *

Fish for me, fish for you
This smells fishy enough for two
Fishmonger’s delight

Xenia Tran concocted a haiku while waiting in a queue outside the Highland Deli to takeaway smoked haddock soup with braised potatoes: a winter warmer in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. In the cooler air of eventide, Phillips quickly tossed together a reddish-orange colored soup using a vegetable base that had been slowly simmering all afternoon. Patrick Sweeney won’t touch blubber.

Cullen skink and stovies
a lunch-time line forms
in the rain

* * *

foggy sunset--
sauteing a mirepoix
for lobster bisque

* * *

passing on whale meat
the host wants to know
if I’m a hippie

Zeljko Vojkovic owns an English Setter with a silk-fringed white fur coat: The handsome hunter lost the trail of a lucky white rabbit on the island of Vis in Croatia.

fresh snow
hid the rabbit’s scent
from the dog

Moldovan can’t travel around. Having enjoyed a long lifetime of sunshine “in the wide-open Midwest,” United States, Horst Ludwig looked down from his new perch high atop a building complex for senior citizens in rainy and overcast Seattle. John Hamley dreamt he was holding onto a spinnaker pole until he awoke in a hospital room with a view of yachts racing back and forth from the Thousand Islands to Lake Ontario.

positive test
seen through the window
only one side of the moon

* * *

far down two treetops
one lighter brown in some sun
for a few minutes

* * *

on the Bay of Quinte
squeaky IV pole

In a moment of insecurity, Daniela Misso felt protected by a divine wind in San Gemini, Italy. Terrie Jacks left her worries behind in St. Louis, Missouri.

nowhere to go...
a wind rises
in the bush

* * *

going on a trip
unpacking my
senior moments

Before COVID-19, Kanematsu enjoyed the idea of heading to a warm southern island to naturally boost his health with vitamins made when skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays. Receiving a booster shot on the island of Sri Lanka, Ashoka Weerakkody forgot all about the unmasked owners of secret bank accounts, private jets, yachts, mansions and artworks on offshore islands. In Peshawar, Pakistan, Mohammad Azim Khan found it hard to keep his head above the ebb and flow of human behavior influenced diseases.

Winter sun
long fight against plague
booster shots

* * *

the Pandora papers too soon
unlocking pandemic

* * *

New Year...
the surging waves
of pandemic

Tsanka Shishkova wore green turquoise at the birth of the year. Mary Leopkey rejoiced at the return of fragrant narcissi on Texada island, British Columbia. J.L. Huffman kept her eyes closed until the sun disappeared below the horizon off the island of Jamaica. Laughing waters picked up sand dollars, sea stars and starfish.

the advent
of the water tiger year
cerulean blue dress

* * *

green sprouts rise
from a frigid earth
baby moons

* * *

guava sun
melts into aqua seas
green flash

* * *

sandy shores...
scooping stars with my beach hat


The next issues of the Asahi Haikuist Network appear Mar. 4 and 18. Readers are invited to send haiku about nightingales or robins on a postcard to David McMurray at the International University of Kagoshima, Sakanoue 8-34-1, Kagoshima, 891-0197, Japan, or e-mail to (

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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 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 The International University of Kagoshima, 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: “Teaching and Learning Haiku in English” (2022); “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).