Tsubouchi Nenten - "Katakoto"

Tsubouchi Nenten - "Haig & Persona"
Personal History

Tsubouchi Nenten (b. 1944; born as Tsubouchi Toshinori, Ehime Prefecture). Studied Japanese literature at Ritsumeikan University where he received an MA degree, and became a scholar. Acted as editor of the Journal of the Modern Haiku Association, Gendai Haiku, 1976--1985. In 1986 founded his own haiku circle and journal, Sendan no kai. Emeritus Professor, Kyoto University of Education, and Professor, Bukkyo University. Tsubouchi Nenten is also a committee member of the 'Study of Rivers' in Japanese Literature [Nihon bungaku ni okeru kasen], and a member of the Modern Haiku Association.


Poetical Works Asa no kishi [Morning Riverbank] (1973); Haru no ie [House of Spring] (1976); Waga machi [My Town] (1980); Neko no ki [Cat Tree] (1987); Hitomaro no tegami [The Letter of Hitomaro] (2003); etc. Essays: Masaoka Shiki: Haiku no shuttatsu [Masaoka Shiki: Beginning of the Haiku Journey] (1976); Haiku ksh to katakoto [The Oral Culture of Haiku and Katakoto] (1990); Haiku no ymoa [Haiku Humor] (1994); Furo de yomu haiku nymon [An Introduction to Haiku] (1995); Kaki k Shiki no haiku sah [Biting a Persimmon: Shiki's Haiku Manner] (2005); etc.


Online materials: author attribution

Richard Gilbert, “Cross-cultural Studies in Gendai Haiku: Tsubouchi Nenten” Gendai Haiku Online Archive (2007), Kumamoto University, Japan <gendai-haiku.com>.  

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Tsubouchi Nenten

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Selected haiku

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Professor Tsubouchi Nenten is an acclaimed gendai haijin and innovator, notable for his unique creative vision. He currently teaches at Bukkyo University, Kyoto.

Katakoto — Nenten discusses katakoto, which can be translated as fragmentary or 'broken' language, and literally means “baby talk.” — as a sourcepoint of haiku creativity. He also touches upon dôshin, “childlike or innocent mind,” contrasting this idea with his conception of katakoto. In the latter part of the video, Tsubouchi discusses the manner in which katakoto can be at the heart of the Japanese aesthetic, being intrinsic to notions of “imperfect beauty.”

Haigô & Persona — Historically, haiku poets have used Haigô, “pen-names” to create multiple personae, each an autonomous creative creative entity; this psychological process is both a central aspect of Nenten's compositional approach and is an integral part of the haiku tradition. Masaoka Shiki is also discussed in this regard. The second part of the video focuses on Shiki's sense of language play as a core concept of his shasei (“sketch of life”) approach to haiku. Nenten suggests that the shasei was never meant to be seen as a poetics of profundity: his main disciples and later poets having distorted Shiki's main intention, with the result that the low contemporary critical valuation of Shiki's thought represents a misunderstanding. Nenten thus sheds new light on the significance of Shiki's creativity.