What's New. Information on upcoming reading performance, newly issued books and more. Mariko Kitakubo

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.

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

Japanese newspaper, Nihon Keizai Shinbun, posted my interview.
English translation of the article is available below of this page.


Nihon Keizai Shinbun newspapser, Oct. 2nd issue.
"Culture" section


Tanka reading performance overseas to deliver the prosody of historical and contemporary poetry that touches the audiences’ heart.

Mariko Kitakubo

I have been presenting Tanka reading performance in many places around the world. This year makes the thirteenth year for my activity. Visited 33 cities in the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Switzerland, Tanzania and India, I performed 132 times of Tanka reading to date. Although my main motivation is to deliver the beauty of Tanka as well as the profoundness of the sound which the Japanese language has, my activity also has an aspect of "returning the favor to Tanka."

In my performance, I read out twenty to thirty pieces of Tanka, slowly, and sometime refrain words in the poem. I change the vocalization according to the content of the poem, attaching intonation so that the audience can experience the beauty of the sound.

Use musical instruments to create "intervals"

I also use instruments to invite the listeners to a deeper world. A shaker makes sounds like ripples. A rain stick makes a sound reminiscent of rain. Small bells. And, iron-made percussion, "Hamon", which gently vibrates air when it is beaten or rubbed by drumsticks. These instruments are used to create some intervals so that the listeners are able to expand their imagination about the poem.

Most of the time, I perform reading poems from "Manyo-shu" at first, followed by my own Tanka pieces. I would like the audience to feel unchanging sound of the Japanese language even today 1,300 years after the Manyo period. This is the reason why I perform ancient Tanka poetry together with my own Tanka. I would like to deliver the deepness of Tanka to the people who do not understand Japanese.

I perform reading both in English and in Japanese. I change the order of the languages according to the situation. It may be more kind to offer English version first because they are able to understand the meaning of it. However, when I wish them to focus on the sound of the Japanese language, I read Japanese Tanka before its English version.

on the eastern fields
I can see the flames
of morning rise
turning around,
I see the moon sink in the west
(by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro)

When a non-Japanese audience heard this piece of poem written by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro contained in "Manyo-shu". She was so marveled and said, "It sounds as if a piece of music." Standing in the field of morning glow, you look back and find lingering moon - we feel this scene is beautiful regardless nationality.

Painfulness of adult’s love

never until now
in this old life,
when white hairs twine
among the black,
have I fallen into longing like this
(by Sakanoue no Iratsume)

Painfulness and heartrending sadness of adults romance may be another example of feeling which can be understood commonly especially among the aged people.

after hating him
for so long, now imbued
with the longing
of a child with no father
on Father's Day
(by Mariko Kitakubo)

I wrote this piece with my emotion toward my father from who I parted in life. I am deeply impressed when I find non-Japanese person show an empathy toward this sort of my personal emotion.

of the stream
in my homeland-
Strontium is soaking
into the placenta
(by Mariko Kitakubo)

This is another piece of my Tanka which I selected to convey the sadness of Japanese suffering from unprecedented calamity.

I started Tanka reading performance overseas in 2005. I was invited to the publishing party in Australia and performed Tanka reading when the translator of my anthology published her own book. Compared with Haiku being well known abroad, the recognition of Tanka is low. I simply wanted to convey the charm of Tanka, therefore, I did the reading with full expression. The audience showed favorable reaction toward my performance, and I started receiving requests to do Tanka reading from many different people.

There are many hardships. For example, delicate consideration is required to perform reading Tanka with the theme of conflict in the countries currently in war. When I visited Tanzania, the cultural event, in which I was scheduled to perform some reading, was suddenly canceled. I thought I could not go home without doing anything after all the way to come to Tanzania, I negotiated with a professor in the university and got some opportunities for me to present Tanka reading in class.

Sorrowfulness for the deceased mother

I am willing to go anywhere to present reading performance whenever I have opportunities. In the beginning, I wrote "returning the favor to Tanka", and there is a special and personal emotion attached to it. I grew up in a mother-and-a-child family. She got ill, and passed away in the hospital. While she was in intensive care unit for seventeen days, I was by my mother's bedside, and devoted myself to write Tanka. Writing Tanka was a spiritual support for me at that time.

After she breathed her last, the huge sense of loss made me taste disorder. However, again, it was Tanka that supported me in my tough days. I put my sorrow and painfulness into my Tanka, which helped me a lot to hold myself. And gradually, I was recovered.

To pass on the power that Tanka has is my way to returning the favor to Tanka. Thirty-one syllables are not just the words with meaning. They touch and move the heartstrings of the listeners. At the moment I start reading, my existence disappear and only the sound of words remains - it may be the ultimate form of reading poetry. I believe it is the moment when the emotion in the poetry touches the heart of the listeners. I may not be able to reach such a stage in my lifetime, however, I would like to make efforts to come closer to it.

Photograph: Mariko Kitakubo performs Tanka reading in Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, Pasadena, California. Shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, played by Mr. R. Wilson.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Oct. 2, Nihon Keizai Sinbun newspaper will post my interview.

On October 2, Nihon Keizai Shinbun newspaper will post an article about my tanka reading activities overseas together with some photos in its culture section.

The article is three-times more in length than the one in the April 9th edition of Asahi Shinbun "Kadan Haidan" because the reporter wrote it with wider and deeper perspective.

I am extremely grateful, and feel a little bit shy about it at the same time, I will be very happy if you have a chance to read it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

These three tanka from INDIGO were translated into Kannada by Mr. Shrikaanth K. Murthy, the editor of Blithe Spirit and a great poet who lives in U.K.
Thank you so much for your translation.

cobalt blue
was my favorite
until I could see it
in atomic waste

ಆ ನೀಲಿ
ನನ್ನ ಮೆಚ್ಚಿನ-

ā nīli
nanna meccina-


at the market
among the purple grapes
a few
young green ones
thinking about my son

ಕರಿ ದ್ರಾಕ್ಷಿಗಳ
ಮಗನ ನೆನೆಯುತ 

kari drākṣigaḷa
magana neneyuta


Father's big hand
I'm searching
for the ginkgo-nuts*
in my soft warm pudding

ಅಪ್ಪನ ಕೈ

appana kai
nenasi koḷḷuta

*Because of the difference in food culture, Kannada translation ueses cashew nuts instead of ginkgo-nuts.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Amazing moment on the Memorial Day ,Hiroshima...
It was so wonderful experience for me.

It was a scorching hot day. For more than 300 visitors to the event, the museum staff and volunteers, I would like to express my sincere respect.
Thank you so much!
Ms. Emi Shirasaki, a singer.
Ms. Kiyoko Horiba, a poet and a Hibakusha in Hirosima.
Mr. Koyo Kanda, a professional storyteller.
Japanese drum "Keyaki" by Josaikawagoe junior-high and high school students.
Mr. Yukinobu Okamura, a curator of the museum. Thank you very much for all the help you have given me.

Sunday, August 6, 2017