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Italian Takes a Haiku to Japan


The second Japan-EU English Haiku Contest was won by Federica Bertacchini from Italy. The Japan Journal's Osamu Sawaji interviewed her.

Federica Bertacchini

Blue sky and twelve stars
Embracing a round red sun
A fraternal hug

When did you start to write haiku?

I started writing poems when I was really young, but I discovered haiku only in 2007. I heard of haiku poetry on a morning TV program, and I found it to be a very interesting and challenging poetic form. I started researching haiku and tried to write some of my own, in Italian. As a student of communication, I found it challenging to follow the metric rules and—at the same time—be expressive in such a short number of syllables. I had a blog at that time, and I started a small contest, to inspire my friends. I remember I got some very creative responses.

Why did you enter this Contest?

I am a big fan of the cultural activities organized by the Japanese Embassy in Denmark—the country where I live at the moment—and I regularly receive and read their newsletter. The announcement of the Contest was disseminated via that channel, therefore I discovered it through my e-mail. However, the reason why I applied was because one of my colleagues—and best friend—who is half-Japanese, distributed the announcement in our office and made the challenge an occasion to reflect on the current situation in Japan.

What is the message of your haiku?

It is that in difficult times, like the ones Japan had to face after the recent earthquake, solidarity among countries might not be enough. A step forward is needed; people need to think and become united, as though in one unique country. I used a symbol to visualize this idea, and I imagined what would happen if the European flag hugged the Japanese one. We would have a blue sky and twelve golden stars surrounding a red sun. There would be a new flag, but also new people, hugging in friendship, mutually understanding each other and collaborating when in difficulty.