Since 1996 Volume XXIV

No Haiku Comparable to World of Dogs 50 Haiku by Ban’ya Natsuishi

I am going to start at the beginning of the book, which is not the real beginning

in the West but graces the back cover, in Japan the cover page. Dogs 50 Haiku
 is is a magnificent example of Ban’ya Natsuishi’s complex symbolism become
fine simple Haiku !

Haiku 17., which I will now discuss is on pages 40-41 :

a chin
getting smaller and smaller

The Haiku begins “Rubbed”, as if the second line, the “chin” is, as in the
beautiful dog artwork opposite receding and becoming, as the final line
says, “smaller and smaller” in this breed of canine.

Each beautiful artwork is one among the many magnificent Aquarelles by
Éva Pápai, a Hungarian painter. Éva’s perfect collaboration with Ban’ya makes
the book the gem that it is.

But the Chin are actually the people of the Burmese-Indian borderland Myanmar,
now living stateless in refugee camps, driven out of their homes. Their villages, and
the people, rumored to be in some cases enslaved have been “rubbed” out,
American slang for murdered or destroyed so that their numbers have become
fewer and fewer, the group “smaller and smaller,” their language all but extinguished,
and their religion being snatched from them by force. “Rubbed” out, and so erased
from their lives. All this in a simple Haiku about a dog’s visage !  

Haiku 16. Page 38,

The new century:
a nuclear plant explodes

a boxer in sudden death

refers to “The new century:” ( as opposed to the 20th Century, the century of
WWII and the atom bombs ! ) The 21st century, when ‘a nuclear plant explodes”
referring to the ‘Western’ world’s invention, the reactor at Fukishima Dalichi
which was destroyed by an easily predicted tidal wave, always common in

Japan.  And so, the Boxer, a type of dog, and in Chinese the boxer, translating

 Chinese yì hé quán, literally ‘righteous harmony fists.’ And thusly, “a member

of a fiercely nationalistic Chinese secret society that flourished in the 19th

Century. In 1899 the society led a Chinese uprising ( the Boxer

 ) against Western domination that was eventually crushed by a combined

European force, aided by Japan and the US.”



And so “the boxer in sudden death:” may be interpreted as the end of another phase

of the union between Japan and the US against the Chinese, as seen in our

present government’s failure to defend Japan against the Chinese encroachment

into the widely traveled Straits of Japan by the ‘islands’ the Chinese have constructed

off their coast. Thus possibly leading to a politics of East against West, which onemay surmise the Japanese world may see developing; hence another of Ban’ya’s masterful Haiku. A work of incredible skill as a Haikais, amazing talent and the

keenest education and use of language. Perfect word, lines, and a perfect Haiku !

Haiku 3. Is on page 12 :

Papillon riding on the wind
the lunch
of nude women

We are reminded of the “pillow books”’ of Japan, which have always been common

In the orient they teach sex to the young with beautiful artistic eroticism. In

Haiku 3. about the “Papillon…the lunch/of nude woman” we can almost see

‘Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe’ or ‘The Luncheon on the Grass’ by Edward Manet,

 ( painted in 1862-63). We are shown the influence of Japan upon the West,

which is symbolized by the dog breed Papillon. The Papillon is also called

the Continental Toy Spaniel. Papillon is also an American Airline Company

(“riding the wind” ), as well as in French it means. a Butterfly. The French,

 we must remember being one of the original Allied Forces occupied Japan

after WWII under the direction of the US. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2124.html :   The occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers started in August 1945 and ended in

April 1952.” In reality, it has never ended !

The Papillon are representatives of European wealth, power, and decadence.

 Tiziano Vicelli painted these small dogs in many famous paintings

beginning around 1500,[9] including the Venus of Urbino (1542).

Other well-known artists who included them in paintings are Watteau,[10] 

Gonzales CoquesFragonardPaolo Veronese,[9] and Mignard.[9] In

a painting after Largillierre in the Wallace Collection in London, a Papillon

is clearly shown in a family portrait of Louis XIV. Papillons are also in paintings

of royal families around Europe and paintings of merchant-class families.

The breed was popular in EnglandFrance, and Belgium, https://www.



And of course, it is the arrival of the West in Japan that marks the appearance

of Japanese influence in western art and the growth in influence of theruling classes and the merchant classes in Europe. This is as well as the first settlement of the US, and the Panama and Suez Canals. Not to forget the Trans-Atlantic Railway, marking the growth of the Japanese,

and Chinese populations in the US with the importation of what amounted to slave labor. And the ‘last leg’ of the connection of East with West !

The Black Ships (in Japanese黒船romanizedkurofuneEdo period term)

was the name given to Western vessels arriving in Japan in the 16th and 19th centuriesIn 1543 Portuguese initiated the first contacts, establishing a trade route linking Goa to Nagasaki. The large carracks engaged in this trade had the hull painted black with pitch, and the term came to represent all Western vessels. In 1639,after suppressing a rebellion blamed on the influence of Christian thought, the ruling Tokugawa shogunate retreated into an isolationist policy, the Sakoku. During this "locked state", contact with Japan by Westerners was restricted to Dejima island at Nagasaki. Perhaps the actually unknown reason why Nagasakiwas the site of a second, allegedly unnecessary atomic bomb !

In 1844, William II of the Netherlands urged Japan to open, but was rejected. On July 8, 1853, the U.S. Navy steamed four warships into the bay at Edoand threatened to attack if Japan did not begin trade with the West. https://en.

wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Ships  In addition, Papillon may refer to: Papillon, a memoir by Henri Charrière about his imprisonment at a French penal colony in French Guiana. Does Ban’yamake a loose association with Japan after WWII ?  

Or, "Papillon", a song by The Airborne Toxic Event from The Airborne Toxic Event ? The Atomic Bomb !!! and Fukishima !!! Ban’ya’s references through language and across languages are the work of a truly great writer !
And does Ban’ya also refer to a common attitude internationally, the mingling of the races, the ‘Hafu,’ or in Haiku 1.. page 8 :

Covered with cesium
a mongrel dog
awaiting a god

 The “mongrel” relating to an attitude and situation found among the Japanese during and after The Occupation, and historically in western nations ! So common in the US, “cesium” being a radioactive by-product in the construction of the Atom Bomb, and found in the atomic plant !.

In Haiku 50., page 106 :

A fantastic spin
by Snoopy
in his somnambulism

Ban’ya Natsuishi writes a final Haiku referring to The West ! The always necessary humor that Ban’ya often speaks of, is seen in the “the fantastic spin” of late that the US has taken, as symbolized by ‘Snoopy,’ the quintessentially American cartoon character falling into “somnambulism” !

Ban’ya Natsuishi, the greatest living Haikais, is always a Trailblazer. He discusses such topics as world politics totally by symbolism and representation in a book that also is beautiful and meaningful as a simple

traditional book of a Master of the Haiku. World of Dogs 50 Haiku is about 50 breeds of dogs. And much, much more through the eternal wisdom and beauty of Haiku, and especially of Ban’ya’s Haiku : comparable only to that of the ancient great masters of Haiku !


By Mary Barnet
Founder and Editor of PoetryMagazine.com
The Train I Rode (Gilford Press, 2019)

Copyright, 2020, Mary Barnet Schiff.
All Rights Reserved.


Mary Barnet


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