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Mariko Kitakubo Profile

Mariko Kitakubo

Born in Tokyo.
Living in Mitaka-city, Tokyo
Japan Writers' Association,
Japan PEN Club,
Association of Contemporary Tanka Poets,
Japan Tanka Poets' Society,
Tanka Online Project,
Tanka Society of America.

Contemprary Tanka Poet Mariko Kitakubo.

Mr. Rick Wilson took some photos at the Fujisan Award ceremony held in the Nihonbashi Gekijo Hall on Feb. 10, 2018.
It was a great honor for me to be offered by the organizer to be a translator for Ms. Kathabela Wilson, my best friend for over 12 years, who won the most excellent English tanka award. I am happy if I can be of any help.



Monday, February 19, 2018


Click the url below to move to the latest edition of Monthly Magazine "WENDY".


Below is the translation of the article.


Mariko Kitakubo
Tanka Poet & Reading Performer


It was in 2005, almost 12 years have passed since I started composing TANKA, I decided to introduce TANKA overseas by my reading performance. This year is the 13th year of my bilingual TANKA reading performance activity overseas, and I did 134 sessions so far.

It was my anthology, "WILL", that brought me an opportunity. It is my third anthology which I compliled to memorialize my deceased mother, who raised me as a single parent and passed away suddenly due to subarachnoid hemorrhage. Ms. A. F., an English poet in Sydney, was deeply impressed with it, and asked me to perform tanka reading at her publication party.

September 2005, my first TANKA reading performance finished with a very big applause of audience in Canberra, Australia. One beautiful elderly lady come to me and told me, "the language of your country sounds so beautiful as a piece of music!" I have never had such an idea until she told me so. Her comment gave me a delightful suprise, and have been motivating me to continue my bilingual reading performance activity. Even those who have interest in the Japanese literature are able to touch upon MATSUO BASHO or MASAOKA SHIKI only through translated versions. Why don't I deliver the Japanese unique sound and meter which has been succeeded over thousands of years! I made up my mind at that time.

One wonderful encounter brought me another. In 2006, I received an offer from Canada, and in 2007 from America. So far, I presented my bilingual TANKA reading in 34 cities in 7 countries - Australia, Canada, America France, Swizzerland, Tanzania and India. (As of October, 2017)


My bilingual TANKA reading is composed with about 30 pieces of Japanese poems, all which have universal themes that anyone can empathize regardless nationality, religion, age or gender. I read them in Japanese and in English, taking the appropriate time while playing sound instruments by myself. Usually I select poems of elegy and love from MANYO-SHU, as well as my own piece which pray for the world's peace.

never until now
in this old life,
when white hair twine
among the black,
have I fallen into longing like this
(Ootomono Sakanoueno Iratsume, MANYO-SHU)

of the stream
in my homeland---
Strontium is soaking
into the placenta
(M. Kitakubo, INDIGO, the sixth anthology)
*the piece written after the nuclear power plant accident)

My eternal goal is to depart from "individual" of being myself and to become a "medium" to convey ideas from soul to soul. I would like to make continuous efforts to deliver the words breathed life to the audience.


I believe that TANKA has a power to sublime negative emotions such as pain and sorrow, and to heal the person who writes it. Beause of this power, I was able to hold myself together for the last 17 days until my mother passed away. She fell down suddenly and turned into vegetative state. I sat down at my mother's bedside, and kept writing TANKA day in and day out as if breathing.

on a chilling morning
I realise that
for my mother
there will be
no next summer
(M. Kitakubo, WILL, the third anthology)

are they overflowing
with things she wishes
she could tell me ---
my mother's tearfull eyes
after more than ten days asleep
(M. Kitakubo, WILL, the third anthology)

I did all the procedures needs to be done after my mother is gone by myself. Of course, all of them had certain leeway until the due date, however, there were many documentations I had to process. I had no time to rest and struggled with papers. Literally, there was no time for cring.

After a while, I finished all the procedure. I took a breath, and remembered I had not been eating anything from the morning. I dropped by at an archaic Japanese noodle shop and ordered ZARU-SOBA. Although the sauce for soba noodle was dark enough, it tasted as light as consomme soup. The other customers looked satisfied with the food. They enjoy their meals while happily talking with accopanying persons. I was tired, and I did not want to bother with complaining about the taste to the shop-person, therefore, I added extra soy sause to adjust the flavor. When I almost finished my meal, I realized that it is not the shop, but me, that had trouble. I was suffering from taste disorder.

Since then, I have been trying to take rest consciously, and spending time by creating poems with the emotions piling up in my mind. Fortunately, my taste disorder did not last long. It was TANKA which supported me all the time. It can be said that I am returning a favor to TANKA by travelling alone and introducing TANKA overseas.

five years now
since I sat there
with late mother
supping on noodles
flavored with citron
(M. Kitakubo, INDIGO, the sixth anthology)


Not to insist on my own ideas, but try to adapt myself to others. It is my belief. If I become too self-assertive overseas, people may feel not only myself but also TANKA is something self-centered and pushy.

Sometimes I encountere with the situation which require extra efforts. In many countries, my reading performance in English is understood as is. However, in the area in Switzerland bordering to Germany, I had to change the pronunciation particular to the area. Much patience was required, to be honest, but there was no other choice. There is no meaning to perform TANKA in English unless they understand.


In April two years ago, I visited Tanzania after 15 years. I was invited to the event to introduce Eastern Asian Culture held in Dodoma University in the capital.

I fell into the unforeseen situation two days after I arrived in Tanzania. I received a cancellation notice of the event when I was in Dar es Salaam waiting for a flight to Dodoma on the following day. Well, that' life. Unexpected things may happen during travelling, regardless good or bad. It's no use resenting. I departed to Dodoma, anyway.

Ms. S, a Japanese teacher at the university, who bridged between the university and me, apologetically made a bow to me. It was not her fault. We exchanged the greetings of our first meeting with smile, and discussed what we could do. "It's kind of rare to see two Japanese ladies here. Are you planning something fun?" A tall, agreeable young gentleman talked to us at the door. He is Mr. M, the professor of literature of the university, and a friend to Ms. S. When we explained about the circumstances, he said to me, "If it is okay with you, could you perform bilingual TANKA reading in my class tomorrow morning?" Of course, I agreed to his offer right away. Right after Prof. M. left us, Prof. L of linguistics dropped by. "Did something good happen?", he said and gave me an offer. "Could you introduce 'TANKA' in my workshop the day after tomorrow?"

What an unexpected development! If the event had taken place as scheduled, I hadn't been able to meet these two Professors. It was literally a good fortune for me to have had opportunities to introduce TANKA to many young generation in Dodoma. Inscrutable are the ways of Heaven. If I did not go to Dodoma after receiving the cancellation notice of the event, I would not have had this good fortune.

I would like to keep gratitude to others always in my mind, and continue to seed TANKA all over the world.

pure indigo
settles down in my heart,
when I cross the border...
I would like to die
as a wanderer
(M. Kitakubo, the sixth anthology, INDIGO)

intently flowing
the river empties
into the sea,
its mouth like a border
between life and death
(M. Kitakubo, the sixth anthology, INDIGO)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

On 4th Feb. 2018 I did the bilingual tanka reading performance at Kathabela Wilson's house.
Dear Lois P. Jones, Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

I did the bilingual tanka reading performance about science at Sunland. Tujunga Branch on 3rd Feb.2018.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

I did the bilingual tanka reading performance about the owl and Princess Kaguya at the Friday Poetry Meeting./ Kathabela Wilson's house on 2nd Feb.

Friday, February 2, 2018

I did bilingual tanka reading performance about Newyear,and about Science on 1st. Feb. 2018 at The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden,Pasadena,CA.
The photos were taken by Kathabela Wilson.

Thank you so much.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

"CHICHI", the Japanese monthly magazine to focus on resourcefulness, will post my interview article in its April edition (date of issue: March 1st).


Thursday, February 1, 2018

I did the tanka reading performance to introduce tanka for Kathabela Wilson and her poetry group ,about 11years ago.
After that my tiny tanka seed grew and grew in California by Kathabela's great help! Thank you so much,Kathabela!
I did the bilingual tanka reading ,about the blue moon,and about Newyear,today.31Jan. 2018.

Thank you every my dear friends for enjoying tanka!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I did the bilingual tanka reading performance at Scenic Drive gallery.

There are so many wonderful art works by Susan Dobay.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

28 Jan.2018 The reading event at the Bolton Hall(Tujunga,CA USA), the theme was Susan Dobay's beautiful beautiful book...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

On 28 Jan,2018, I did the New Year's tanka reading performance at Storrier Steans Japanese Garden in Pasadena CA.
I presented a tanka sequence with the theme of year of the dog and my newly composed tanka./td>
It was a sunny, fine day, and the people were enjoying themselves Japanese, Korean, and Chinese culture exhibitions.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Jan. 17, 2018, I performed bilingual tanka reading at Kanagawa Institute of Technology. I selected the tanka with scientific theme.
Themes I selected were; "Stars" and "Space Morning Glory" from "SPACE", "In the Womb" and "DNA" from "LIFE", "Redwood Tree Forest" and "Banyan Tree" from "TREES", and "Firefly" from "LIVING THINGS."
I would like to express my sincere gratitude toward Dr. Yoshiko Sassa for offering me such a preicous oppotunity for me to able to present bilingual tanka reading at a Japanese science faculty.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I will perform bilingual tanka reading at the festival to celebrate the year of the dog.  It will be 30 to 45 minutes perforance.

I will upload the details later.

Celebrate the Year of the Dog at Our Festival for the Lunar New Year
Date & time:  Jan. 28, 2018.  12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Place:  Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, Pasadena, C.A.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Jan. 17, 2018, I will perform tanka reading at postgraduate school of Kanagawa Institute of Technology.

I am invited to be a guest speaker for Dr. Yoshiko Sassa's lecture titled "Science Technology and Society" (13:40 - 15:10, Jan. 17, 2018) and will perform reading of a seriese of tanka with the theme of science.

I will upload the details later.

Monday, December 18, 2017

I am very honored that two pieces of my English tanka were selected among many entries and posted in TSA Member's Anthology 2017.  

Especially, I am deeply grateful to Ms. Margaret Dornaus and Mr. David Terelinck, the two selectors, because they understood and appreciated my intent and the theme of these two pieces.  These pieces are not limeted to my personal emotion.  I tried to focus on the world's peace while taking the form of tanka - a style of short poems.

more than
70 years ago--
the blood
of my parents
of my grandparents

dark fog
is crawling near
my ankles
Hiroshima, Nagasaki,
Fukushima and  . . . 



TSA に掲載されたその他の作品は、こちらよりご覧ください。
Tanka Society of America 掲載作品


Monday, November 27, 2017

Newsletter of "Writers association aiming for abondoning-nuclear-power society" Vol. 11 issued in Nov. 2017 posted my article about my participation in "Hiroshima Memorial Event in Maruki Museum this summer.



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nov. 14th starting at 16:50, I gave a 90-minute presentation titled "Communication beyond languages (sub title: getting closer to TANKA)" and performed tanka reading at Hosei University Fujimi Campus Room F405.
It was a precious experience for me because I perform tanka reading overseas most of the time.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude toward Ms. Michi Shiina, Professor of Linguistics for offering me such a wonderful opportunity.

I sincerely hope tanka sheds some light on in one way or another to those students of the Faculty of Literature who attended my session in their future.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

On Nov. 14thm I am goint to talk about my activities of tanka reading overseas at Hosei University Fujimi Campas F405 classroom in Ichigaya, Tokyo.

The title of my presentation is "Communication - beyond the languages."

Ms. Michi Shiina, the professor of Faculty of Letters, the department of English Literature, thank you very much for your invitation.

Those who wish to come by, please contact me beforehand via email (tanka@kitakubo.com).

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ms. Gotani Jana, who has been endeavoring to spread Japanese culture at Clermont-Ferrand in France for many years, posted wonderful report on my tanka reading performance on Octover 9th. I really appreciate it. Ms. Gotani, Thank you very much.


Quelques photos de la "Soirée spéciale TANKA - poème japonais -" animée par Mariko Kitakubo et son amie Véronique hier soir au Café Lecture Les Augustes. Suite à la belle rencontre entre notre amie Julie Houillon de la librairie Momie et Mariko Kitakubo, une poète japonaise de Tanka (poème japonais formé de 5-7-5-7-7 : 31 syllabes) qui visite Clermont en ce moment, je communique agréablement avec Mariko-san ces derniers jours par messages et téléphone. Cet échange me fait très plaisir en attendant le rendez-vous et enfin, nous avons pu la rencontrer hier soir ! (^v^). La séance a duré 30 mins, nous avons découvert ses poèmes à travers la récitation en trois langues anglais-japonais et évidemment en français grâce à son amie Véronique qui l'a accompagnée.

Sa voix douce mais résolue nous a emmené jusqu'au Japon, Hiroshima et Nagasaki par ses poèmes de prières pour la paix et ensuite nous a permis de partager son voyage au Viétenam et en Afrique, accompagnés de petits instruments de musique traditionnelle qu'elle a joués.C'était un moment bien silencieux des fois, mais aussi très passionnant. Il est difficile d'exprimer par les mots ce que l'on ressent, mais sa séance me rappelait bien la force de ce petit poème japonais de 31syllabes qui nous parle au plus profond de notre cœur. C'était en effet bien Kotodama, mots-âmes qui représentent une partie importante de notre tradition. Cela me rappelait encore notre belle tradition et la beauté de la langue japonaise, mais aussi française et anglaise. Ce temps était magique et très émouvant. Nous avons été heureux d'avoir pu assister à sa séance ici à Clermont (eh oui, comme je vous dis toujours, à Clermont-Ferrand, il y a tout !!, même de belles rencontres que nous ne pourrions jamais avoir au Japon, mais, ici, c'est possible !!). Je remercie Mariko-san pour ce grand partage qui nous a permis de traverser le temps d'hier et d'aujourd'hui l'espace d'un instant et qui nous a aussi permis de traverser le monde.

Mariko-san nous a offet son livre anglais-japonais "Indigo", je me permets de vous présenter son poème "Pur indigo S'installe profondément dans mon coeur Quand je traverse la frontière Je voudrais mourir comme un vagabond."

Encore merci à Julie d'avoir permis cette belle rencontre, et je remercie VV pour ton aide toujours rapide.

Son séjour est trop court, mais, on continue des échanges entre nos deux pays avec grand plaisir en espérant qu'elle reviendra ici pour nous revoir et aussi pour réaliser un projet avec nous par l'occasion. J'ai déjà hâte (*^-^*)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Oct. 7th, I performed reading tanka from INDIGO at Momie Librairie, a bookstore in Clermont Ferrand, France.

I would like to express my gratitude toward Ms. Julie Houillon, who translated my tanka into French, and assisted my performance in reading in French.
Ms. Brigitte Pellat and Mr. Ikuo Ishida translated other pieces of my tanka from the other sections. I really appreciate your cooperation. Thank you very much.

Saturday, October 7, 2017