Makoto Ooka (Japan) Poet

The Japan Foundation Awards
The Japan Foundation Special Prizes

Makoto OokaMakoto Ooka (Japan) Poet

Makoto Ooka, who is involved in broad ranging literary activities in the field of "words" as a poet and a critic, and who possesses deep analytic powers as a historian, has made an enormous contribution both at home and abroad toward dissemination of the charm of the Japanese language. His unstinting efforts toward the development of linked-verse (renshi) exchange with the poets and literati of the world, the first experiment of its kind ever carried out, have served to carve out new horizons for cultural exchange and international exchange in the field of literature, as a result of which he has gained great renown as a "cultural emissary" of Japanese culture and literature.

The Linked-Verse (Renshi) Experiment
Poets from various foreign countries who meet for the first time spend several days face-to-face for the purpose of creating a new style of poem invented by Mr. Ooka, who has spent more than twenty years putting it into practice.
He has revived the traditional group production method of renga and renku, which was one of the basic principles of poetic creation in ancient Japan, in the context of contemporary poetry. He calls his experiment renshi (linked verse), and he has attracted the attention of overseas scholars of contemporary Japanese studies and poets by this unique experiments. Poets from all parts of Europe and America participate, under his guidance, in his renshi activities, creating poetry through interpreters. It appears that renshi has established itself in all the countries of the world today.

Brief Personal History
1953 B.A., Japanese literature department of the Faculty of Letters, University of Tokyo
1953-63 Worked in the foreign news department of the Yomiuri Newspaper
1965 Assistant professor at Meiji University
1970-87 Professor at Meiji University
1974- Director of the Japan Artists Association
1979-81 Chairman of the Japan Contemporary Poets Society
1988-94 Professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music
1989-94 Chairman of the Japan PEN Club
1995- Member of the Japan Arts Academy
Awards Received
1993 Cultural Prize of the Municipality of Tokyo
1993 Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
1995 Japan Academy of the Arts Prize for poetry and criticism
1996 Asahi Prize
1996 Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings, Macedonia
1997 Cultural Merit Award

Major Publications
The Colors of Poetry: Essays on Classic Japanese Verse (Sante Fe: Katydid Books, 1991. Co-authors: Thomas Fitzsimmons, Donald Keene, Takako Lento, Thomas Lento).
A Poet's Anthology: The Range of Japanese Poetry (Sante Fe: Katydid Books, 1994. Translated into English by Janine Beichman).
What the Kite Thinks: A Linked Poem by Makoto Ooka, Wing Tek Lum, Joseph Stanton, and Jean Yamasaki Toyama (Manoa: University of Hawaii Press, 1994).
The Poetry and Poetics of Ancient Japan (Santa Fe: Katydid Books, 1997. Translated into English by Thomas Fitzsimmons).
Dans l'océan du silence (Paris: Voix d'encre, 1998. Translated into French by Dominique Palmé).
Oriori no Uta: Poems for all seasons (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000. Translated into English by Janine Beichman).

Page Top