Kujira jutte
hajimaru koji to
ishi-no yakyu

- Saito Sanki (1900-1962)

After eating whalemeat
orphans and a doctor start
a baseball game.

- trans. Makoto Ueda

Having eaten whale meat
orphans and a doctor
play baseball.

- trans. Saito Masaya

A touching scene of post-World War II Japan. Whale meat, while typically associated with Japan, is hardly a delicacy, and was used to alleviate post-war food shortages. The orphans are, of course, war orphans. Baseball was one of the many American imports inundating Japan at the time. The game was hardly unknown to Japan prior to the war (right now, I'm thinking of the boyhood photo of haiku master Masaoka Shiki in a baseball uniform, circa 1890), but it is a potent symbol of the changing times.

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