Nobuko Katsura
(1914 - 2004)


Nobuko Katsura was born Nobuko Niwa in Osaka on 1 November 1914. After graduating from High School, she began writing haiku under the direction of the poet Sojo Hino, editor of the 'Kikan' (The flagship). Later she founded the Marumero (Quince) haiku group with Kenkichi Kusumoto. In March 1945 during the WWII when the American planes bombed Osaka, Nobuko's house caught fire and she was just able to gather her haiku manuscripts before fleeing from the fire. The rescued manuscripts were later published in her first volume, 'Gekkoo shoo’ (Beams of the moon 1949).

In 1954 she helped Katoo Chiyoko edit the magazine 'Josei haiku' (Women's haiku). After 'Gekkoo shoo', she published 'Nyoshin' (The female body) in 1955, 'Banshun' (Late spring) in 1967, 'Shinroku' (Young leaves) in 1974, and several other collections. In 1970 she founded the magazine 'Sooen' (The grass garden), which is still publishing today. She has also been a vice-president of the Modern Haiku Association of Japan. Her ninth collection of haiku 'Kaei' (The shadows of flowers) came out in 1998. Nobuko’s style of writing developed through the years – from the slightly erotic notions in her early poems to the calmer yet full of emotions and sensuality haiku of her later career.

Nobuko’s honours:

·         the Women's Prize in Modern Haiku in 1977,

·         the Osaka Cultural and Artistic Award in 1981,

·         the Dakotsu Prize in 1992, the last being the most prestigious prize in haiku, established in 1966 in honour of the famous haiku poet Iida Dakotsu (1885-1962).

Some of Nobuko’s haiku:

beyond the dark
where I disrobe
an iris in bloom


the first day in spring –
a wind from the ocean
but no ocean in sight


on the scale
my bathed and steaming body
this night of snow


wild geese –
between their cries, a slice
of silence


the nuisance
of breasts-
a long rainy season


Christmas –
this sadness of being a wife
when did I first feel it?


wake up
in cherry blossom
white midday



Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women (Translations from the Asian Classics), by Makoto Ueda (Author), ColumbiaUniversity Press, 2003.

A Long Rainy Season: Haiku and Tanka(Contemporary Japanese Women's Poetry) edited by Leza Lowits, Miyuku Aoyama, Akemi Tomioka; Stone Bridge Press, 2007.

Haiku: Love, by Alan Cummings, British Museum Press, 2013.