Japanese Poems in Brazil - The history of migration in poetry

I have the book in hand Meeting with Japanese-Brazilian poems. I selected some poems that delicately trace this difficult transition from the distant islands to this tropical hell. I am touched by the delicacy with which they allude to delicate topics. The book presents a brief history of the direction of Japanese artistic forms on Brazilian soil. The first immigrants arrived here in 1908. In this article, we will see a little about the 3 main types of poems that the book highlights and some Brazilian versions of this style of poem that tell a little about Japanese immigration.

Haikai Poems (俳句)

Haikai is a style of poem written in simple language, without rhyme, structured in three verses totaling 17 syllables. They use sensory language to capture a feeling or an image. This poetic form expresses aspects of nature and always includes a kigo (a theme word that is usually a flower, or animal, or climatic phenomenon) When the immigrant Nenpuku Sato came to Brazil, he received a mission from his master:

  • Hatta utte haikaikoku o hiraku beshi
  • Cultivate the land and build a country of haiku. - Kyoshi Takahama

Nenpuku composed his haiku observing tropical nature. An example:

  • The brightness
  • coffee flowers
  • at sunrise;

It fulfilled its mission well, since Brazil is the country in which the most haikuists exist, outside of Japan, and where people of all ethnicities are enchanted by the haiku guilds, unlike what happens in other countries whose peoples are less inclusive than our.

Ribeira River _
tea harvests song
on its banks.
Kazue Koyama
At the sound of the poem
by Gonçalves Dias
sings the thrush.
Reiko Akisue
In the New Year,
phone call to Japan.
Mitsue Ino
Sabiás twittering_
cozy feeling
in the hospitable country.
Saoko Kosai
 Return to Japan _
in the vast dry field
buried dreams.
Kazuma Tomishige
 Immigrant Day_
Love the homeland
and praise for this country.
Haruno Nishida

Japanese poems in Brazil - the history of migration in poetry

Tanka (短歌)

Tanka is a poetic modality with more than 1300 years of history, consisting of 31 syllables linked together, conveying personal feelings. The people who come together to maintain this tradition are true guardians of ancient culture.

Crossing the street
with the blue-eyed daughter-in-law,
hands that touch me
transmit heat.
Reiko Abe
 I started to like football more than
sumo, and so
I was integrating myself among the Brazilians.
Asahiko Fujita

Senryû (川柳)

Senryu is a satirical poem that appeared in the middle of the Edo Period (17th century) and uses modern language to refer to everyday facts.

Many of the poems, written in Japanese, lose their metric in translation; however the feelings of an entire community is the important aspect of this reading, and remains fresh and intact. Japanese literature will die with its authors, of which there are still a few hundred years old, but the new generation together with the Brazilian admirers of these poetic forms will carry on these traditions, now no longer Japanese, but acclimated.

Japanese poems in Brazil - the history of migration in poetry

Immigrants have aged
who still sing their homeland.
Kobayashi Yoshiko
Children are not shown
the sadness of making guts a heart.
Suga Tokuji
 Being happy is everyone's decision.
Happiness will flourish wherever we cultivate.
Kazuko Hirokawa


In 1987, São Paulo founded the Grêmio Haicai Ipê, under the leadership of Hidekazu Masuda, affectionately called Mestre Goga. In 1996, a catalog entitled Nature - cradle of haiku , containing 1400 Brazilian kigos was published to commemorate the Brazil-Japan Friendship Centenary.

Like so many other good contributions that the Japanese have brought us, his poetry enriches our view of the world. Let us harmonize, therefore, with nature and with all other peoples, our brothers.

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