Yuki Hime, by Jess Martin.
I have always been a big fan of anime and Japanese culture. From a young age, my sisters and I would repeatedly rent the Studio Ghibli film “My Neighbour Totoro” from Benny’s Video in our hometown. Sailor Moon was my obsession throughout high school, and now I love One Piece and many other anime.
Over a decade ago, I wanted to start learning the Japanese Language. I started taking an evening class at Metro Collage here in Edmonton; it was there that I met my current teacher, Tamaki sensei, who I've been studying with ever since.
A couple of years ago, after seeing the Wes Anderson movie, “Isle of Dogs”, I was moved by a Haiku the protagonist Atari wrote. I decided to try my hand at writing haikus.
Sensei said she didn’t have much experience writing them, but she could refer me to her friend in Japan for guidance. That is when I became aquatinted with (via email) my haiku sensei, whose pen name is Aoyama Kanan(青山 果楠).
One of the first haikus I wrote and sent to Aoyama sensei was Yuki Hime.
Romanji : Yuki hime wa chiisai koe de waraimasu
Translation: The snow princess, in a small voice, laughed.
Haikus follow a 5,7,5 beat structure and express a lot in a few words; they are often very subjective, painting a different picture in each reader’s mind.
After sending this to Aoyama sensei, his visualisation was quite different from what I had imagined when I initially wrote it. I then decided to illustrate what I had daydreamed while writing it and sent it to him so he could see what I had envisioned.
Traditionally haikus contain a Kigo(季語, seasonal word), a word or phrase that represents or is associated with the season the poem is expressing. When writing my Haikus, I try to focus on using a kigo in each one, so I draw the bulk of my inspiration while walking around Edmonton in the various seasons.
When Yuki Hime came to mind, I was walking my dog on a cold but sunny winter day. As the cool wind lightly blew past us, I could see the snowflakes dancing around the air, catching the sun's light in a beautiful yet playful way.
It made me imagine a little fairy-like snow princess playing in the sunshine, causing this effect while gently laughing to herself. So I used that as a base for this haiku to express what I wanted to show Sensei through my illusion.
I hope everyone else has as much fun seeing the photo as I had while imagining and drawing it. I am super excited to see my creations, the haiku and illustration, together on Untamed’s wonderful hoodies.
If you want to learn more about Jess, head to her Instagram page @jessmartintattoos or to her featured page on the Untamed website.