European Council president composes haiku for Matsuyama city

November 20, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

MATSUYAMA--European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, a lover of Japanese-style poems, submitted a haiku to Matsuyama after the city named him a “special honorary citizen” on Nov. 18.

Van Rompuy placed his poem in one of Matsuyama’s popular haiku boxes that are scattered around the city, the capital of Ehime Prefecture.

The former Belgian prime minister visited the city for the first time on the request of Matsuyama Mayor Katsuhito Noshi ahead of the Japan-EU summit in Tokyo on Nov. 19.

Matsuyama is the hometown of Shiki Masaoka (1867-1902) and other celebrated poets.

Van Rompuy toured a museum dedicated to Shiki and the tower of Matsuyama Castle before he was awarded the title “special honorary citizen” during a ceremony.

To express his appreciation, Van Rompuy composed a poem in English: “How these short stanzas/ Can make a city greater/ Haiku capital.”

In response, Noshi wrote: “Kite flies high/ In the air/ Connecting in friendship.”

Matsuyama has about 90 haiku boxes, a project that started in 1966 to mark the centennial of Shiki’s birthday.

More than 12,000 poems are placed in the boxes each year, including those from foreign tourists.

Noshi had a haiku box placed at the Mission of Japan to the EU in Brussels in April 2012, the first outside Japan.

Van Rompuy, who is known to compose a verse every two weeks, said he was impressed by the city’s efforts to pass down the art of haiku poems to future generations. He also said he wants to promote haiku by becoming the “haiku ambassador.”

The Japan-EU English Haiku Contest has been held since 2010.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, puts his poem in a haiku box in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, on Nov. 18. (Hiroshi Kai)

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, puts his poem in a haiku box in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, on Nov. 18. (Hiroshi Kai)

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  • Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, puts his poem in a haiku box in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, on Nov. 18. (Hiroshi Kai)

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