Anti-war HAIKU

                          Satomi Natori (Haiku poet)

For a while

I look up at an autumn butterfly

at the epicenter        

                                 Satomi Natori

A white butterfly suddenly flew up into the blue sky. Its afterimage still remains in my mind. I wrote this haiku in a haiku notebook during my first visit to Nagasaki at the age of 27.

In 2022, this haiku was published in the high school Japanese language textbooks “New Language and Culture” and “Selected Language and Culture.” The notice of its publication came to me shortly before the start of the coronavirus epidemic. It was before the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) had conducted their examination, and the publisher asked me to keep the information of the publication confidential.

Needless to say, I was surprised at the sudden news. The haiku is an old piece that I had included in my second collection “Akari,” so I was happy for its publication and also deeply moved that an anti-war haiku had been chosen. My parents, who were of the generation that struggled in the Pacific War, along with the rest of my family were quietly pleased at the achievement.

After that brief event, the novel coronavirus began to spread slowly around the world.

In the midst of this, my son, a university student, had finished his studies in France and was wandering around Europe. He was traveling eastward as if chased by the coronavirus, which was spreading from west to east across Europe. I texted him, “It’s dangerous, you should come home soon,” to which he replied, “I’m in Kiev right now.” I was worried because Kiev looked so close to the Chernobyl plant on the map. “This is the only chance I have to go there,” is what he always said during his travels. Even though he had suffered theft in Italy, he was still hesitant to return to Japan. However, when word of the new coronary disease spread, he asked a Ukrainian friend to share his masks, which was not a major product in Europe at the time, and finally made his way home.


I was devastated by the sad reality that Ukraine had suffered not only from the corona epidemic but also from the war.

Every day I listened to experts’ commentaries on Ukraine, learning about the depth of the problem from the various perspectives of politics, defense, history, and diplomacy. I was also horrified at how deep the darkness of the human heart could be.

I had no idea that the threat of nuclear weapons would increase by the time high school students received their textbooks containing my haiku about Nagasaki epicenter. Although uneasy, I began to compose anti-war haiku, which were far from being any sort of solution.

Coffee and

a gun in my hand

remaining cold in spring―

                                    Satomi Natori

The images of Ukrainian women training with their guns for defense just before the invasion made me uneasy at first. Ukrainians are coffee lovers and they probably picked up their guns after drinking coffee. The feeling of the gun in hand, which was likely cold, was frightening to imagine.


Haiku is an art form that is popular all over the world.

There is a certain peacefulness in haiku. Observing nature in order to write haiku fosters a love for it, and makes people think about nature conservation. The exchange of haiku helps people to appreciate diversity and deepen global exchange, which in turn leads to world peace. There are also movements to promote the registration of haiku as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, with the intent to send a message of peace from Japan to the world. This peaceful nature is one of the reasons why I love haiku so much.

But is haiku powerless when it comes to war?

I have learned that Ukrainians who are living in shelters in the war-torn bunker of Halkiou, Ukraine, are publishing their haiku on social media. To quote an example:

For the whole evening

a cricket has been mourning

victims of the war

                   Vladislava Simonova

Trembling at the sound of a cricket that cries on the battlefield. There is no other piece that strikes the heart more than a poem written at the scene of the ravages of war. I hope that the readers’ feelings of sympathy reach the author and comfort her in some small way. After all, poetry has the power to heal those who suffer.

Haiku poets during the Pacific War also composed famous war poems in the midst of tragedy.

Out to the sea,

no place for wintry wind to return  

                                         Seishi Yamaguchi 

Leave the gravestones of the blazing sun

 to the end of the water vein

                                         Touta Kaneko

Seishi wrote this poem in mourning of suicide attacks in Japan. ”Kogarashi” (translated here as “wintry wind”) alludes to the suicide attackers. Touta wrote this poem when he was leaving the battlefield, Truk Island. It is said to be a scene that he will never forget.

These war poems are works of profound sadness, and they will further increase sympathy for the anti-war movement. May these painful and sad anti-war haiku be the seeds of peace for the future. All we can do for now is pray for a ceasefire as soon as possible.

Today is Okinawa Memorial Day. Through the trees, a white butterfly came to my garden.

         『Kamakura Pen club』NO.27 August 25 ,2022