Red Lights: Selected Tanka Sequences from Shakko

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Seishi Shinoda
Purdue University


Red Lights by Mokichi Saito (1882-1953), who was a major Japanese tankaist, continued the trend in bringing new life to tanka. Sbakko, translated as Red Lights, appeared in 1913. This collection of tanka created an immediate sensation in Japan as it introduced into this venerable art form the modern note of a rich variety of subject matter, including sordid sexuality and chaste love, psychiatric scrutiny, and the complicated mental processes of a mind reaching into those layers of nature and human nature that hardly seemed possible in thirty-one syllables.