Fine Japanese Calligraphy by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase


Fine Japanese Calligraphy
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

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H3028 Haiku by Issa - Snail, ever so slowly ...
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

Haiku by Issa by Master Japanse Calligrapher Eri Takase

Snail
ever so slowly climb
Mt. Fuji!

Issa

Japanese Haiku Designs by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

These original, hand-lettered designs are perfect for personal and commercial use. For personal use the Adobe PDF designs are ideally suited for arts and crafts such as quilting, stained-glass, sewing - there is no limit to their uses. They are also perfect for tattoos and come with the line art that your tattoo artist will need to ink the design - they don't even have to know Japanese! Just print the design and you have all you need - and the designs are high-resolution images that can be easily resized. Personal use designs start at $14.95.

Commercial use designs come in three size (72, 300, and 600 dpi JPG). The lower resolution is suitable for images used on websites. The higher resolutions are suitable for all print illustrations such as for CD covers, books, magazines, and advertisements. These designs are subject to a generous  licensing agreement. Prices start from $34.95.

NEW! We are proud to offer hand-lettered scrolls based on these designs. See below for samples and details.

This article is intended to be a scholarly work discussing the meaning and translation of this poem. Copyrights are retained by the original authors and used here under Fair Use Doctrine. We encourage you to support all the artists, as we have, by purchasing the referenced works.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.

For help viewing the Japanese text see Displaying Japanese Characters

Haiku by Issa by Master Japanse Calligrapher Eri Takase
H3028 Design Snippets
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

 

Haiku by Issa by Master Japanse Calligrapher Eri Takase
H3028VC6A
Cursive

Haiku by Issa by Master Japanse Calligrapher Eri Takase
H3028VD6A
Cursive Design

 

Haiku by Issa by Master Japanse Calligrapher Eri Takase
H3028VD6B
Cursive Design

Haiku by Issa by Master Japanse Calligrapher Eri Takase
H3028VS6A
Semi-Cursive

(4 designs in catalog)


Snail
ever so slowly climb
Mt. Fuji!
[1]

Asataro Miyamori states this is certainly a moral lesson in haiku form: That with slow steady progress, with "diligence and perseverance", even us lowly creatures can attain great feats. [2]

A simple snail making its way up ... the tallest mountain in Japan!

Though another way to look at the poem is that this is Issa simply encouraging his little friend to attempt the impossible.

Original Japanese Haiku Designs
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

 
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Harold Gould Henderson suggests the translation:

Snail, my little man,
slowly, oh, very slowly
climb up Fujisan!
[3]

Asataro Miyamori suggests the translation:

Oh, snail, climb Mount Fuji,
Very, very slowly.
[4]

William N. Porter suggests the translation:

The snail does all he can,
Yet very, very sluggishly,
He climbs Great Fujisan.
[4]

Nelson and Saito suggest the translation:

Snail!
Little by little climb up -
Mt. Fuji.
[5]

Lanoue suggest the translation:

little snail
inch by inch, climb
Mount Fuji!
[6]

We agree more with the translations of Nelson and Saito [5] and Lanoue [6]. And we encourage you to visit Lanoue's website (or buy his book) to learn more. For the translation, the poem starts with "snail" and Issa is addressing the little creature and is also telling us what it is - its nature. In the next section Issa is encouraging the snail to "slowly climb" and then, in the final fragment, Issa pulls us back to reveal the big picture and what Issa (and perhaps the snail?) have in mind is - to climb Mt. Fuji!

So the order and the exclamation we believe should be preserved. Our difference is to leave out "little" which is not in the original though while it effectively shows Issa's fondness for the snail - it also unnaturally contrasts the size of the little snail with the large mountain which is not in the original. And we use "slowly" to match the original sorosoro. See translation notes below.

Calligraphy Notes:

1) In the future I would like to do designs with katatsuburi/katatsumuri in hiragana but I didn't want to get into a big brouhaha about which is "correct" and so stopped with kanji designs which can be read either way.

Translation Notes:

1)  蝸牛 (katatsuburi) means Snail, though, in modern Japanese you will find this under Snail (katatsumuri).

2) そろそろ (sorosoro) means "gradually; steadily; slowly; soon". This is used commonly in modern Japanese.

3) 登れ(nobore) is the imperative form "Climb!" of the verb 登る (noboru) meaning "to climb".

4) 富士の山 (fuji no yama) means Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji in Japanese is most commonly called 富士山 (fujisan or fujiyama).

Recommended Reading:

References:

[1] Translation by Timothy L. Jackowski, Takase Studios, LLC.

[2] Miyamori, Asataro (1932). An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. Tokyo: Maruzen Company, Ltd. 533.

[3] Henderson, Harold G. (1934) The Bamboo Broom. Boston and New York. Houghton Mifflin Company. 91.

[4] Miyamori, Asataro (1932). An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern. Tokyo: Maruzen Company, Ltd. 533.

[5] Nelson, William. Saito, Takafumi (2006) 1020 Haiku in Translation: The Heart of Basho, Buson and Issa. South Carolina. BookSurge Publishing. 127.

[6] Lanoue, David G. (1991-2009) Haiku of Kobayashi Issa.

Related Sites:

Haiku of Kobayashi Issa by David G. Lanoue has more than 9,000 Issa haiku with insightful commentaries.

Related Sites:

Haiku of Kobayashi Issa - An archive of over 9000 Kobayashi Issa haiku and translations and insightful commentaries.

Jeffrey's Japanese <-> English Dictionary - This is an independent dictionary based on the Edict data maintained by Dr. Jim Breen of Monash University.

Haiku Source - A Selected Collection of Japanese Haiku - Includes a few English translations

Wikipedia - Haiku - Overview of Haiku including brief biographies of Japan's most influential poets


Copyrights are retained by the original authors and used here under the Fair Use Doctrine.
We encourage you to support the authors, as we have, by purchasing the referenced works.