Western Michigan University’s Soga Japan Center is pleased to bring husband-and-wife team Susumu & Emiko Miyashita to WMU to give two talks part of its ongoing Premodern Japanese Culture Workshop and Speaker Series. The talks will be held back-to-back on Thursday, February 13, 2014 in 3025 Brown Hall on WMU’s campus.
From 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., the haiku poet Emiko Miyashita will talk about the history of haiku and the translation of haiku poetry into English. Although Westerners think of haiku as a form of short verse arranged in the pattern of 5-7-5 sounds, there is also a style of haiku known as “free rhythm haiku” that follows freer rules. Miyashita will talk about the work of the modern free-rhythm haiku master Taneda Santōka 種田山頭火 (1882-1940), the place of his work in the history of haiku, and the difficulties of translating his work for contemporary Western audiences. The talk will be in English with examples of translations problems drawn from Japanese.
From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., Susumu Miyashita will talk about the aesthetics of the tea ceremony and the ways that its profound appreciation of simple, rough ceramics and utensils contributed to Japanese aesthetics. People frequently describe the tea ceremony’s appreciation of rough, simple beauty as being uniquely “Japanese,” but is that necessarily the case? This presentation re-evaluates the assumption that other nations and people cannot appreciate the aesthetics of tea. Susumu Miyashita, an expert in tea-related antiques, will show examples of tea culture, and talk about the aesthetics that have shaped the tea ceremony and notions of “Japaneseness” over the years. This talk will be in Japanese with English interpretation.
Emiko Miyashita 宮下惠美子 is a haiku poet who, since 1997, has been writing in both Japanese and English. She is a director of the JAL Foundation, known for its World Children’s Haiku Contest. She is also a manager of the Association of Haiku Poets and a councilor of the Haiku International Association. She has translated more than ten books about haiku and waka poetry, Noh theater, and Japanese sweets.
Susumu Miyashita 宮下進 is a graduate of Dōshisha University in Kyoto. He is the owner of a shop in the Ginza (Tokyo) that specializes in tea antiques.