The following are the winners of the haiku competition launched to mark the Community section’s 10th anniversary. The five recipients of the top prize, a copy of Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants,” are marked by an asterisk. Other winners will receive a poster illustrated by artist Chris Mackenzie. Thank you to everyone who sent in or tweeted their entries about life in Japan.


Always in longing
for the other half of me
whether here or there

Troubled foreigner
This island is not like home
But be at home here

Bewildering choice
(Bernard Green)

Girl Archers

Their legs slightly bowed
their quivers full of arrows
to be aimed at hearts
(Tom Dean)

Hot, humid, summer
morning sleep between wet sheets
and her sticky thighs.
(Bob Friedland)

Hawk’s echoing cry
Contrasts crow’s staccato caws
And train’s slowing sighs.

Age close to ninety
affection and passion here
the scholar’s fresh life

Hopeless romantic
give slurred springtime serenade
by rainy street light

The Earth has awakened again
Splashes of color dot the hill
Hope is in my Heart
(Gregory Hall)

Seat for the Elderly

Slowly, old couple
pushes the baby buggy
old dog, smiling, rides
(Tom Dean)

The end of summer
tsukutsuku-bōshi heard
at Suma Temple

Gruff salaryman
Somber in his dark blue suit
And Donald Duck watch.
(Larry Carney)

O city rooster,
I just made it home to bed.

Not wrong to follow
one woman across the world
when love leads the way

I love my two wheels
Guiding me through a new world
Blowing Japan’s breeze
(Rachael Barker)

Written at Shirotori Garden in Nagoya:

Blown by the night wind
moon-sparkles ripple across
the startled water
(William J. Herlofsky)

Oh my Dragonfly
your wings beat coming Summer
emerald herald
(R.K. Woolums)

Life in Sapporo:
April blizzards cry and yet —
So many bare legs.
(Scarlett Cayford)

April sakura
petals fluttering skyward
like panicked flyjin

Holding Hands

When first we held hands
’twas the beginning of love
now it’s for support
(Tom Dean)


Death Penalty

The stroke of a pen
or a vessel in the brain
(Tom Dean*)

You good with chopsticks!
And speak nihongo so well!
Teach me English please.
(Tyler Lynch*)

Beauty of Japan?
You wouldn’t understand it.
You’re not Japanese.

Like cherry blossom
foreigner at home until . . .
asked, “When you leave now?”
(Bill Woods)

Wet snow cold night room
waiting for the warmer’s warmth
waiting, waiting, cold.
(Bob Friedland)

Close to spring last year
Fukushima exploded
Japan waits for change
(Dave Carlson)

Driving in Japan
Barely big enough for one
Normal two way street.

Everywhere I look
AKB48 reign
Lolita terror

Haiku for Michael

Song birds grow silent
Red leaves on water’s surface
Cold winds tear my eyes
(Ken Yamada)

Memories of her
like old cherry tree branches
sparse, phantom limbs

News is a lighthouse
But their ads supply the bulbs
Our sponsor: TEPCO

No! You see, here in Japan
It’s just called “culture.”

Visa Extension

For three more years
my visa has been renewed
will my vita too?
(Tom Dean)

“You can use chopsticks!”
It may seem surprising but
So can your toddler

What’s new in Japan?
AKB48 this
and the Sky Tree that.

Masks for the pollen
or for the radiation?
People say for both
(Wayne Parton)

Kyoto Apartment Blues

Sleep interrupted
sound slips through paper-thin walls
my neighbour’s talking
(Sarah Marchildon)

Salaryman life
happiness in slavery
iwakan aru?

Sits sadly with beer
and dreams of bubble heydays
graying eikaiwa

Witness to Murder

On that sunny day
of their former selves
only shadows remained
(Tom Dean)


A nighttime flower
growing on the station floor
the ramen blossom

My unsteady feet
ground is moving all around
earthquake or just drunk?

Why are they moving?
Is it because I’m foreign
Or because I puked?

Hot and smelly place
Doing anchovy cosplay
Hey that was my train

On the last train home,
air thick with sweat and booze smell,
not Kansas Toto.

Oh black shiny crow:
The pink petals stick to the
ketchup on your beak

Summer, hot and moist
Wet, tender flesh sticks to the
Fingerprint scanner


Urine Analysis

making early rounds
inspecting urine results
do dogs keep records?
(Tom Dean)


Spring, the Japan Sea
waves calm hiding huge power
wash the tetrapods

Flocks of umbrellas
Waddle across road to cause
Cars to wait in rain.

In between seasons
the Mogami River trip
taking the riceboat

Cherry blossoms show
their ephemeral nature
Petals in the breeze

Have been here so long
I’ve forgotten I am here
and then I go home

Insects buzz and sing.
Japanese enjoy nature.
Gaijin ears can’t hear.

Once-permanent resident
Now even missing
The immigration office
(Jenifer Hermes)

Uchibo line down
Beers on ledge, feet on the seat
To Tateyama!

In Jiyugaoka
neko lovers play pretend
inu rule the roost

Toshugu shrine pines
I try to stay still like them
in this mist and dew

After school sports clubs,
the first year they run around,
chasing balls for peers

On the morning train
line of cell phone acolytes
tending to the screens

In the classroom, new freshmen
Outside the window
Cherry blossoms, yet again
(Jenifer Hermes)

requires full attention.
To read, get soba.

Fukushima mon
amour. Le nuclear, je
ne regrettte rien.
(Bernie Green)

Family Pathology

In the family
there is a pathology
fear of the other
(Tom Dean)

Birds that are flying
to a new home faraway
first eat a last meal.
(Bob Friedland)

Sieverts in the air,
TEPCO says it’s not their fault,
Who should foot the bill?
(David Hidden)

No self-absorbed rants
of Hawaii-based pundits
I’m with my J-friends

Atop the counter
fist of coins splayed all at once
rice wine for morning

Spring is here, masks too
Why keep planting cedar trees?
Substitute others.
(Wayne Parton)

For all my crude jokes
it’s where I’m truly happy
I love this country

An excited young boy on the first day of school:

For the jumping child
only the weight of his shoes
seems to hold him down
(William J. Herlofsky)

Misty Spring Morning
Muddy Fields of Seedling Rice
Essence of Our Life
(Steve Yamakami)

Crows struggle in winds
That sea hawks ride gracefully
Beneath winter clouds.

In the Land of Sun
the cicadas are singing
Summer is coming.

Hiking with deaf friends:

How does one explain
the sound of a bird chirping
to a deaf person
(William J. Herlofsky)

Too late in 50s?
Flowers bloom, still not for them
countryside farmers

Eve of Golden Week
drifting on nomikai haze
into 4-day bliss

Learning Japanese
Is culture inculcation
The language of Heart!
(R. T. Solis)

Going to work:

Just after the rain
coming out of the subway
the smell of wet dirt
(William J. Herlofsky)

“Kawaii” they say
As I introduce myself
I blush at the word
(Rachael Barker)

Mist in Nikko drifts
and floats above a calm lake
reflection exists
(Tyra Taylor)

A bush warbler’s song at dawn
My dreams merge into the music
This moment is Life
(Gregory Hall)

In the garden:

Breaking the silence
crickets in sheltered hideouts
sing to the moon
(William J. Herlofsky)

Jonquils in full bloom
on the spot, its master gone,
shoulder to shoulder

Foreign Piety

To enter or leave
rooms or subways in Japan
tall foreigners bow
(Tom Dean)

At the shrine:




(William J. Herlofsky)

An old container
among driftages on sand
having unknown words

Japan Times always
Ten years of Community
Happy 10th birthday!
(Wayne Parton)

Declaration of Independence

Man walking his dog
cat follows along behind
making a statement
(Tom Dean)

For use in Japan.
Warranty void overseas!
No reason at all.
(Duraid Madina)

Ah, spring in Japan!
Also allergy season . . .
My nose hates me now.

Spring in Japan Times:
Yet more Sky Tree pics from Kyodo;
Same old Debito

Insomnia night
YouTube for sleep inducer
Thank you Hatoyama

Live near Atsugi,
Two jets roar by overhead:
“What were you saying?”

The doors are closing
Stand clear, the morning game of
Sardines is starting

teachers come to chat re kids,
will they need a drink

Immigration line
Big sign over the entrance
Says, “Members Only.”

On my way to the station
Children shout hello
It is never a greeting
(Jenifer Hermes)

Their beauty is gone
pink blossoms blown down to streets
dirty work for collectors.
(Bob Friedland)

Spring weather cometh
Fukushima still sprayeth
Where hath safety gone?
(Wayne Parton)

ATM sleeps now.
The train was quick but alas;
Office hours are best.
(Duraid Madina)

“New visa system
to benefit foreigners.”
Really? How? Vague
(Wayne Parton)

15 Springs I gave
my vigor now depleted
Call it time to bounce?

Happy Bag Hunting
Unhappy wallet feeling
Long first day’s shopping

National pride is
Crappiest writing system
In the universe
(Bernie Green)

By Yoyogi Park
a street lined with bundles of
homeless possessions

A raindrop creeping
Down the window
My lover’s tear

Politicians lie,
On fat butts policemen sit,
Business is bad.
(David Hidden)

Deep Thinker

Lost in cyber thought
“texting teen falls into hole”
virtual Thales
(Tom Dean)

Nagano hills bars —
Many trafficked foreign girls.
Police return them
(Wayne Parton)

The golden temple
bright in rainfall as before
wish Marco Polo here

Learning to cut a
pineapple on YouTube
warm park afternoon

A bus for the mall
going through the calm street
carrying young and old

By the open pit toilet
The t.p. holder
Serenades me with “My Way”
(Jenifer Hermes)

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