The Bard of Lard

Scott Gardner

You’ve heard of Basho (芭蕉). You know the rhythmic structure of a tanka. What? You don’t? You can hardly call yourself an appreciator of Japanese culture if you can’t say a thing about its history of innovative poetry. If you need a primer on the subject, though, please don’t look here. I’m far more read up on cosplay than the Kokinshuu (古今集—Old and New Poetry Collection).

It would take hundreds of pages to present an adequate image of the beauty and mystery of nearly two millennia of Japanese poetry. It will take only one page, however, to sully that image permanently with the following works by Ooji (大父) from the island of Usa (a territory which has recently come under international dispute—nobody wants it). An obscure and best forgotten poet, Ooji composed mainly in the rare rimu riku style.


There once was a daimyo from Mito

Who’d walk around incognito.

With villains he’d wrestle

Then flash his credentials.

The peasants all thought he was neato.


In Beppu the operative word

Is “onsen,” so I have heard.

The people down there

Golf in their swimwear

And soak in each water hazard.


The Lord High Admiral Poohbah

Took his beach vacation at Tsukuba.

What need there, you ask,

For a snorkel and mask?

He’d be better off in Aruba. 


Shikoku-ites will assail ya

With their travel paraphernalia;

They’ll fill you with wonder

For their land down under

As Japan’s own mini-Australia.


Two ladies from Hachinohe

Made a game for a rainy day.

Swinging mallets indoors

On soft woven floors,

They call it Tatami Croquet.


The colors of Kyoto in autumn

Are brief, so don’t lounge on your bottom.

They take a big squeegee

To all the momiji

Until you can no longer spot ‘em.


There’s no truth in the claim of Yakult’s

To cure baldness in male adults.

I’ve also learned Calpis

Rubbed into your scalp is

Not going to improve your results.


The sleepy town of Obama

Once met with considerable drama

When it shared its name

With a person of fame

And was Googled more than Yokohama.


A hog on a bench in Sendai

Was accosted by a passerby

Asking, “When will this blight

Be removed from our sight?”

It replied with a sneer, “When pigs fly!”


In the mountains of Gifu are those who

Know a man whom everyone goes to

When feeling unwell.

He just casts a spell.

They call him the Wizard of Ozu.


A young traveler from Berlin

Fell prey to a strange allergen

When she ate a taco

With some chirimenjako.

I doubt she’ll try that again.


The northern town of Rumoi

Was the scene of a Soviet ploy

To ferry across

Cheap Russian soy sauce

And sell it as a decoy.


Aioi, a city in Hyogo,

Was trying to jumpstart its mojo.

Said the mayor, “Look, then;

Add an ‘r’ and an ‘n,’

And make ‘Aironi’ our new logo!”