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A tanka poet and doctor, Takashi Okai lived a remarkable life

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“Gendai Hyakunin Isshu” (A modern version of a collection of one hundred waka poems by one hundred poets) was published 25 years ago.

The apparent gibberish “Mijikabino/ Kyapuriki toreba/ Sugichobire/ Sugikakisurano/ Happa fumifumi,” loosely in the 31-syllable tanka format, was aired in a TV commercial.

I was refreshingly surprised to find this piece in the anthology, along with verses of poet Mokichi Saito (1882-1953) and folklorist Shinobu Orikuchi (1887-1953), who wrote poems under the pseudonym Shaku Choku.

Takashi Okai, a leading figure in the postwar world of tanka who selected pieces for the anthology, died on July 10. He was 92.

Okai was a physician as well as a........

© The Asahi Shimbun