2013 Tokutomi Memorial Contest Results

Winners of the

Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi

MemorialHaiku Contest 2013


Makoto Nakanishi


Kaoru “Hana” Fujimoto

Results and Judge’s Comments


First Prize – $100 

sugar moon rising
the wail of a midnight train
takes me home again

                        Ferris Gilli

In Japan, when we saw the phrase “sugar moon,” we wondered what kind of moon it was.  Then we learnt that in North America it is an early-spring kigo, showing the season when sap rises in the maple trees and people make sugar syrup from the sap.  This haiku has a good combination of a beautiful kigo, the sugar moon, with daily life, illustrated by the midnight train.  We feel as if we could hear the wail of the train in the big-country stillness of the prairie under the sugar moon.  We could see a wide scene and also sense the author’s delicate feelings towards nature.  This is a haiku of greeting to nature, the sugar moon.

Second Prize – $50

church memorial
celebrating her long life
creak of grasshopper

                        Carolyn Fitz

The author’s ears catch the creak of a grasshopper at the memorial service in the church.  A grasshopper has a faint sound, and it has a short life, in contrast to the poet’s long life.  We feel the solemnity of the author’s feeling for nature.  The kigo of grasshopper works well in this haiku.  We avoid emotional words in writing haiku; this poem implies emotion without telling the reader what to feel.  We feel this haiku has a positive view of the universe.


Third Prize – $25

open cellar door
faint voice of a grasshopper
lulls baby to sleep

                        Roberta Beary

This poem has the very sensitive feeling of a poet catching even a little insect’s soft voice, which must be coming from downstairs, in the corner of the cellar. It is like a lullaby, and a lullaby always makes all of us – not only babies – feel calm and comfortable. The juxtaposition of the grasshopper’s voice and the lullaby is good.


tales of our wildness
set off cycles of laughter—
clinking iced coffee

Peggy Heinrich

first sun barely up
the clatter of black-eyed peas
poured into a pot

Ferris Gilli

New Year’s reunion—
once again grandfather gets
the coin in the cake

Linda Papanicolaou

From the bare hilltop,
Watching migrating raptors.
How far will they go?

Don Olsen

sharing a silence
under tonight’s sugar moon
the old dog and I

Desiree McMurry

from a stiff clothesline
black long underwear flapping;
Amish washing day

Jennifer Sheridan

decades in L.A.
the baggage I still carry . . .
longjohns in my drawer

Gregory Longenecker

drinking iced coffee—
I check the yes box to be
an organ donor

Mike W. Blottenberger

first sun of the year
a street workman disappears
into a manhole

Marilyn Appl Walker

through the bay window
a sugar moon pours itself
into jelly jars

Poppy Herrin


Makoto Nakanishi is a professor at Ehime University, Faculty of Education, in Matsuyama, Japan. He has conducted research extensively on literacy education in primary and secondary schools. In 2012 he presented his paper “Young Buds” at the 5th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference, cosponsored by YTHS. His English-language poems have been published in western journals and anthologies, including the 2012 Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4 (2012).

Kaoru “Hana” Fujimoto is a Councilor of the Haiku International Association (HIA) in Tokyo, Japan, and a member of the Japan Traditional Haiku Association. She writes for the haiku magazine Tamamo (waterweed), first published in 1930 by Takahama Kyoshi and his daughter, Tatsuko Hoshino. For ten years she has worked at the Tokyo Bureau of the New York Times. She appreciates being a judge with Nakanishi-sensei for Yuki Teikei Haiku Society.

Kigo for the Contest

The contest coordinator selected these kigo for the 2013 contest: for New Year, first sun and New Year’s reunion; for spring, sugar moon and soap bubble; for summer, iris and iced coffee; for autumn, migrating raptors and grasshopper; and for winter, whale and long underwear.  Some modifications to the contest kigo were acceptable, including the alteration of a kigo from singular to plural (or vice versa). Also acceptable was the modification of a kigo to use a synonym; for example “migrating hawk” was acceptable as a variant of “migrating raptors.”