Emperor recounts visit to tsunami-devastated shores in New Year’s poem


Emperor Akihito recounted his visit to areas devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in a poem recited at the annual New Year Poetry Reading Ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Thursday.

This year’s theme for “waka” (Japanese poems) at the reading was “kishi” (shore). The Emperor describes the view from a helicopter of areas devastated by the tsunami during his May visit to Iwate Prefecture to console those affected by the quake-triggered disaster.

His poem is translated by the Imperial Household Agency as:

What was it like then

When the tsunami came to shore

I look down and wonder

Below me spreads the blue sea

Quiet and perfectly still.

The Emperor’s poem, verse by other members of the Imperial family and 10 poems chosen from roughly 18,000 entries from the public were recited in the traditional style at the reading.

Empress Michiko, in her poem, expressed her feelings for the people who, regardless of the season, stand on the shore waiting for someone to return, such as those who disappeared in the tsunami and others being repatriated after World War II.

To stand there and wait

For someone to come back home

Through the four seasons

So no “shore” do we find

In the haiku compendium.