high school student from Saga Prefecture, Kyushu, became the only third
person in history whose poem was read before the Emperor and the Empress
for the second straight year in the New Year poetry reading cremony, held
annually at the Imperial
Palace in Tokyo.
Hiroaki Nakao, 16, made the headlines
last year as the youngest tanka poet in postwar Japan to be chosen
for the annual New Year event. A tanka is a 31-syllable short
poem consisting of five lines in the pattern of 5-7-5-7-7, the dominant
form of classical Japanese poetry dating back to the seventh century.
"I never dreamed of having
this honor for two years in a row," said Nakao with a broad smile. "I
am already thinking of writing a poem for next year's event."
The theme for this year's New Year
poetry-reading ceremony was toki, or time. Along with the poems
written by Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, and other Imperial family
members, 10 poems were selected for recital from a total of 23,122 entries
from the public, according to the Imperial Household Agency. The public
contributions included over 450 poems from elementary and middle school
students apparently encouraged by Nakao's feat last year, agency officials
Nakao's latest poem is as follows.
daken no omosa
Shopan no "Kakumei"
hiku toki semaru
|I already feel the weight|
of the piano keys
on my fingertips
as my time approaches
to play Chopin's Revolutionary Etude
Nakao has been playing piano since
the age of 3, and his poem this year was about the tense and nervous feeling
he had moments before he was called up to play a piece by Frederic Chopin.
"I decided to write about music after the Empress encouraged me to keep
practicing piano during our conversation at last year's ceremony," he
Informed that so many children contributed
their poems to this year's event, Nakao said he would be glad if he could
help revive interest in tanka, which he regards as one of Japan's
Next year's theme, selected by the
Emperor himself, is kusa, or grassy plants. While Nakao is determined
to have another try at the selection, he has a problem to deal with. "I
have to think hard about how to make time for poem writing and other hobbies
because studying for university entrance exams is taking up much of my
time," he said.
Photo: Two time selected poet Nakao is all smiles at
a press conference following the ceremony. (Jiji)