Kenneth Yasuda

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This article is about the Japanese-American scholar. For the Japanese bodybuilder, see Ken Yasuda.
Kenneth Yasuda
Born (1914-06-23)June 23, 1914
Died January 26, 2002(2002-01-26) (aged 87)
Occupation Academic writer
Ethnicity Japanese-American
Education University Of Washington, Tokyo University
Genre Poetry, Poetry Criticism
Notable works The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English, with Selected Examples

Kenneth Yasuda (June 23, 1914 - January 26, 2002)[1][2] was a Japanese-American scholar and translator.


Yasuda was born on June 23, 1914, in Auburn, California.[3] His poetry studies at the University of Washington were interrupted by World War II, and he was interned at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center.[4][5] After the war, he returned to the University of Washington where he received a BA in 1945.[6] Yasuda earned his Doctorate in Japanese Literature from Tokyo University.[6]

His most well known book is The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English, with Selected Examples (1957). His other books include A Pepper-pod: Classic Japanese Poems Together with Original Haiku, a collection of haiku and translations in English; Masterworks of the Noh Theater; A Lacquer Box, translation of waka and a translation of Minase Sangin Hyakuin, a 100-verse renga poem led by Sōgi and titled in English as Three Poets at Minase.

Yasuda's 1957 book consists mainly of material from his doctoral dissertation from 1955, and includes both translations from Japanese and original poems of his own in English. These had previously appeared in his book A Pepper-Pod: Classic Japanese Poems together with Original Haiku (Alfred A. Knopf, 1947). In The Japanese Haiku, Yasuda presented some Japanese critical theory about haiku, especially featuring comments by early twentieth-century poets and critics. His translations apply a 5–7–5 syllable count in English, with the first and third lines end-rhymed.

Yasuda's theory includes the concept of a "haiku moment," which he said is based in a poet's personal experience and provides the motive for writing a haiku. While the rest of his theoretical writing on haiku is not widely discussed,[citation needed] his notion of the haiku moment has resonated with haiku writers in North America, even though the notion is not widely promoted in Japanese haiku.[citation needed] His indirect influence was felt through the Beat writers;[citation needed] Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums appeared in 1958, with one of its main characters, Japhy Ryder (based on Gary Snyder), writing haiku.


  1. ^ Library of Congress, American Library Association. Committee on Resources of American Libraries. National Union Catalog Subcommittee. The National union catalog, pre-1956 imprints: a cumulative author list representing Library of Congress printed cards and titles reported by other American libraries, Volume 360. Mansell, University of Michigan, p200
  2. ^ "Bloomington Council Minutes". Indiana University. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Memorial Resolution: Kenneth Yasuda (June 23, 1914 – January 26, 2002)". Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  4. ^ Chang, Gordon (1999). Morning Glory, Evening Shadow: Yamato Ichihashi and His Internment Writings, 1942-1945 (Asian America). Stanford University Press. pp. 503–504. ISBN 9780804736534. 
  5. ^ "National Archives: Kenchir Yasuda". Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  6. ^ a b Yasuda, Kenneth. The Japanese haiku: its essential nature, history, and possibilities in English, with selected examples. Tuttle, 1957. Inside back cover.

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