足跡を 残した月と 眺むれば Looking at the full-moon, I thought about the footprints That have been left there

On July 20, 1969, the American lunar module Apollo 11, named ‘Eagle,’ landed on the moon. Captain Neil Armstrong left the first human footprint on the lunar surface, followed by the lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, who left the second footprint. This event took place 54 years ago. Apollo 11 became the name associated with the historic mission that successfully landed humanity on the moon for the first time, leaving an indelible mark in history.
During the late 1950s to the early 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were in the midst of the Cold War. In the midst of this rivalry, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, shocking the world and particularly the United States. In response, the United States initiated “the Mercury program” to put humans into Earth’s orbit. However, on April 12, 1961, amid these efforts, the Soviet Union successfully launched Yuri Gagarin into Earth’s orbit aboard Vostok 1, marking the world’s first human orbit. It was another blow to the wounded pride of Americans who had been shocked by the Sputnik moment.
Apollo 11 was the event that allowed the United States to catch up with and surpass the Soviet Union. Reflecting on this while gazing at the Mid-Autumn Festival’s full moon, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of disappointment about the self-rihteous decline of Russia, which had once played a pioneering role in humanity’s journey.


名月に 添いて咲かんと 睡蓮花 Beneath the harvest moon, Suiren blooms, determined, To be by its side

Today is the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, known for the ‘Harvest Moon.’ The term ‘Harvest Moon’ refers to the moon visible on the night of the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar. This year coincides with a full moon, but it’s important to note that the Harvest Moon may not always align with a full moon. The Harvest Moon is a calendrical concept, while a full moon is an astronomical one.
The tradition of celebrating the Harvest Moon is said to have been transmitted from China during the Heian period. In Japan, the Harvest Moon is associated with agricultural rituals and prayers for a bountiful harvest, often offering sweet potatoes (Satsumaimo), hence the nickname ‘Imo-meigetsu’ (Sweet Potato Harvest Moon).
Recently, when it comes to decorations for the Harvest Moon, the image of ‘tsukimi dangos’ (moon-viewing dumplings) and susuki (pampas grass) is quite prevalent, symbolizing susuki as rice ears. However, due to this year’s extreme heat, susuki hasn’t grown well, and instead, the suirens (lotus flowers), which are in full bloom during the summer, seem to take center stage as decorations for this year’s Harvest Moon celebration. So, this year’s Harvest Moon might be adorned with tsukimi dangos and suirens.

今日は中秋の名月の日です。「中秋の名月」とは、太陰太陽暦の8月15日の夜に見える月のことを指します。今年は満月と重なりますが、中秋の名月が満月とは限りません。中秋の名月はあくまでも暦の上での月で、満月は天文学上の月だからです。中秋の名月をめでる習慣は、平安時代に中国から伝わったと言われています。日本では中秋の名月は農業の行事と結びつき、豊作祈願として芋(里芋)をお供えしたことから、中秋の名月のことを「芋名月」とも呼びました。 最近では、中秋の名月の飾り物としては、月見団子とススキのイメージが非常に強いですが、これも実はススキを稲穂に見立てている訳です。ところが、このススキも今年の猛暑で育ちが悪く、代わって夏が見頃の睡蓮が今勢いづいているというから、今年の中秋の名月は、月見団子と睡蓮で飾る事になりそうです。

今盛り 彼岸が過ぎた 彼岸花 Now in full bloom, The fall equinox has passed — Higanbana

Nowadays, chatbot AI (generative AI) seems to be the darling of the times. In November of last year, Microsoft released ChatGPT to the public, sparking worldwide interest. ChatGPT, an AI capable of engaging in natural language conversations with extreme human-likeness, has shown its power even on search engines. Within two months of its launch, it reached 100 million users, and its user base has been steadily increasing since. Google, which previously held a dominant position in the search engine market, couldn’t hide its sense of urgency. Falling behind by six months, in May of this year, Google introduced a similar chatbot AI called “Bard” for use in Japan, setting the stage for an intense competition between ChatGPT and Bard in gaining users.
Today, we attempted to translate Matsuo Basho’s haiku “古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音 (Huruike ya Kawazu tobikomu Mizu no oto)” using ChatGPT and Bard. ChatGPT translated it as “An old pond… a frog leaps in, water’s sound,” while Bard translated it as “Old pond, a frog jumps in, the sound of water.” This haiku is not only one of the most well-known works of Basho but is also considered the haiku that established the Basho style of haikai. It has given rise to profound interpretations and legends surrounding the seemingly ordinary event of a frog leaping into water and the sound it makes. Even ChatGPT and Bard appear to have had difficulty capturing its essence.
By the way, Donald Keene, a leading figure in the study of Japanese literature among Americans, translated it as “The ancient pond A frog leaps in The sound of the water,” and there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference in meaning. Haiku, being the world’s shortest form of poetry, is challenging even for Donald Keene to translate accurately, as the goal is to evoke a shared sense of the scene. So, it’s no surprise that ChatGPT and Bard found it challenging as well.
However, generative AI is still in its early stages, and we look forward to its future development.

そこで今日はChatGPTとBardを使って、松尾芭蕉の俳句「古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音」の英訳を試みてみました。ChatGPTは「An old pond… a frog leaps in, water’s sound」と訳し、Bardは「Old pond, a frog jumps in, the sound of water」と訳しました。この句は芭蕉の作品中でもっとも知られているだけでなく、芭蕉が蕉風俳諧を確立した句とされており、「蛙が水に飛び込む」そして「その水音が聞こえる」というありふれた事象に深遠な解釈や伝説も生んだ句です。さすがのChatGPTもBardも訳しきれなかったようです。
ちなみに米国人で、日本文学研究の第一人者であるドナルド・キーンは「The ancient pond  A frog leaps in  The sound of the water」と訳していて大差がないように思えます。俳句という世界最短の詩で、情景を共感し合うこと自体がドナルド・キーンをしても難しいのですから、ChatGPTもBardも翻訳しずらいのも無理のない話です。

打ち水に 思わず爆ぜる 鳳仙花 By the sprinkling water, Unintentionally bursting open— Hosenka’s fruit.

♭♯♭ 鳳仙花 ♭♯♭

Next to the stone lantern standing on the approach, Hosenka flowers are blooming. Perhaps startled by the water sprinkled on the cobblestones, the fruits burst open, and Hosenka seeds scattered around. I had heard that Hosenka fruits burst upon touch, but witnessing them burst due to sprinkled water was a stroke of luck.
It’s now the season for Hosenka fruits to burst open. The red Hosenka has been used by girls since ancient times to dye their nails, earning it the alternate names “Tsumakurenai” and “Tsumabeni” (nail rouge). According to tradition, if the color remains on the nails until the first snowfall, it signifies that love will bloom. Its language of flowers, “Do not touch me,” carries deep meaning as well. Moreover, the stories surrounding trumpet creeper, such as its connection to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and the “Korean massacre,” make it a topic that never ceases to be discussed.


彼岸開け 部屋もすっかり 秋模様 After the equinox, The room is filled with the autumn air. A lonely feeling.

When I opened LINE, I received photos and videos of my grandchild’s sports festival. In recent years, more and more schools have been holding sports festivals in the spring, but I remember that sports festivals used to be held in the fall. I feel nostalgic.
And today is already after the equinox, and the period of “autumn equinox” in the solar term has begun. This year’s autumn equinox is from September 23 to October 7. The solar term is further divided into three categories, and today is the first phase of that period.
The first phase is explained as “thunder stops its voice,” meaning that it is the time when the thunder that often rang during the rainy season in the summer calms down. The clouds that generate thunder are cumulonimbus clouds, also known as cumulonimbus clouds. However, those cumulonimbus clouds have also lost their momentum, and we often see autumn-like clouds such as “scale clouds,” “sardine clouds,” and “sheep clouds.”
I feel that this year’s autumn came suddenly from a long summer, but what will this year’s autumn be like? I am both excited and a little worried.

初侯は、雷乃収声(かみなりすなわちこえをおさむ) と説明され、夏の時期は夕立で鳴ることの多かった雷がおさまる頃と言う意味です。雷が発生する雲は積乱雲、いわゆる入道雲ですが、その入道雲もすっかり勢いを無くし、「うろこ雲」や「いわし雲」、「ひつじ雲」といった秋らしい雲を見ることが多くなります。

咲き揃い 朝露受けて やっと秋 Blooming flowers, dewdrops received, finally autumn

It’s amazing how the temperature has dropped sharply since the equinox. Even so, it’s still over 30 degrees Celsius during the day. There were tropical nights with temperatures over 25 degrees Celsius, but the temperature on the morning of the autumnal equinox was below 20 degrees Celsius, so I was surprised. I could feel the coldness as dew fell on the cockscombs. This summer has been a record-breaking year, and this trend has been going on for a while now. The catch of saury has decreased, the flowering of cockscombs has been delayed, and the effects of climate change are widespread. Unlike earthquakes and typhoons, there is a lack of awareness of the crisis of climate change, which makes it even more scary. It’s the same with diseases. The condition often progresses without any symptoms, and when you realize it, it’s too late. The situation with climate change is different from that of diseases. It is recognized everywhere on Earth, but national egos are prioritized, and measures are slow. Hegel’s dialectic “transformation from quantity to quality” is also applicable to the natural world. Transformation in a good sense is welcome, but transformation in a bad sense is a problem.


彼岸花 やっと引き立つ 案山子くん Kakashi stands out now Among the higanbana With exciting彼岸花

Autumn is the season of harvest in Japan. In the golden countryside landscapes, there has always been an indispensable figure – the scarecrow. These human-like dolls were created to ward off pests like sparrows and crows in the rice fields and farms. They were traditionally made from patched-up old clothing and were often crafted with a single leg made from bamboo or straw. “Henohenomoheji” is always written on the face. At times they appeared dignified, and at times they seemed lonely, as if reflecting the emotions of those who looked upon them. However, these scarecrows have become a rarity in recent times. You can only find them at “scarecrow festivals” in certain places or in areas catering to tourists. Much like the cliché of scarecrows being used as a symbol of insignificance, sparrows and crows had long since figured out scarecrows’ true nature. Whether the scarecrows knew this or not, when the red spider lilies began to bloom around them, they seemed to gain a new lease on life. With outstretched arms, they stood resolutely alone in the fields, as if proudly declaring, ‘I am the one protecting this rice field,’ and their stance was undeniably endearing.


明日香野は 今年も変わらず 彼岸花 In Asuka fields, This year too, Higanbana blooms, Always as well 

♭♯♭ 曼珠沙華 ♭♯♭

We often use the phrase ‘Japan’s original landscape.’ In this context, the ‘original landscape’ refers to the collective image of an old, typical Japanese scene that comes to mind for the Japanese people. However, if you were to ask which era in ancient Japan this ‘old Japan’ represents, it becomes a perplexing question. The key to this landscape, in this case, is the cluster amaryllis. When you inquire about when the cluster amaryllis began to be seen in this way, there are various theories, but the ultimate answer seems to be that we do not know. If we assume it was introduced alongside rice cultivation, it could date back to the Jomon period, and if we had clear documentary evidence, it might be attributed to the Muromachi period.
Asukamura, a small village located in the central part of Nara Prefecture, was once the site of Asuka-kyo, the capital that flourished as the center of Japan’s politics, economy, and culture. The remnants of its prosperity from 1400 years ago, hidden amidst the tranquil countryside, stir the romance of those who visit. The cluster amaryllis that bloom there evoke a sense of nostalgia even for first-time visitors, making it truly worthy of being called ‘Japan’s original landscape.


ゴンシャンの 歌が聞こえる 曼珠沙華 Looking at Manjushage, I can hear the Gongshan’s song, With a sad tones.

I always think, what a glamorous yet quaint flower it is. Around the equinoctial week of September, by the lush rice fields, not in a single cluster but here a group, there a group, one or two standing alone in the foreground, and far ahead forming clusters, they bloom. Not in a riotous burst of color but in a way that doesn’t fail to captivate human eyes, unquestionably a scene of autumn.
On the path by the paddy fields in the distance, a woman walks with a bright red parasol, her steps seeming somewhat lonely and precarious, and she suddenly appears, then disappears with a whoosh.
Back in high school, when I learned to read sheet music, I bought various music scores and devoured them. I still remember the excitement I felt when I discovered this “Manjushage” in a rather thick songbook, maybe it was called “Complete Collection of Japanese Songs.”
The song “Gon Shan, Gon Shan, Where Are You Going?” composed by Kosaku Yamada with lyrics by Hakushu Kitahara, it has the style of Japanese folk songs, and it also has a melody reminiscent of a lullaby, with a feeling of a pilgrim’s lymn. But back then, I didn’t think much about the meaning of the lyrics.
Now, as I read the lyrics again and hum the song, I feel an indescribable sense of loneliness, as if it’s approaching with the scene of the blooming Manjushage and the deepening sense of autumn.
Is the Manjushage bubbling up like a child who passed away at a young age, or is it the child who couldn’t be born into this world due to circumstances? We all live with the uncertain reality that we can’t control.
Please, don’t kill your child.

「ごん しゃん、 ごん しゃん、 どこへ ゆく」、山田耕作作曲で北原白秋作詞のこの曲だが、日本民謡風でもあり、子守唄のような旋律でもあるような、また御詠歌のような雰囲気をもった歌だなあ、と思ったが、それ以上に歌詞の意味を考えてもみなかった。

穂もたわわ 実りを祝う 彼岸花 Heavy ears of rice, Celebrating the harvest, Red spider lily

The heat of summer has passed its peak, and the rice stalks in the paddy fields are about to be harvested. Suddenly, red spider lilies bloom, as if they have agreed to do so. They seem to be celebrating the rice that has grown for about half a year after being transplanted in the spring and overcoming the scorching heat.
After blooming, red spider lilies grow leaves, and they wither in the early summer of the following year. Red spider lilies are poisonous plants that have strong toxicity in their underground bulbs. In the past, they were eaten after the starch in the bulbs was detoxified as a famine food. They are also often planted in the borders of rice fields and cemeteries, using their strong odor and toxicity to protect rice fields from moles and rats, and to protect the bodies of the dead from animals during burial.
For this reason, red spider lilies have many other nicknames besides the alternative name “Manjusha”. However, recently, the active ingredient of red spider lilies, galanthamine, has been said to be useful for Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the Alzheimer’s disease drug “Reminyl” was released in 2011.
The red spider lilies are now in full bloom, and they are a flower with endless topics, not to mention their beauty.