15 Jan 2012

Tsunami poems among winners at imperial contest

8:23 am on 15 January 2012

Poems about the Japanese tsunami were among the winners at the annual Imperial Palace poetry contest.

Emperor Akihito and his family attended a ceremony in Tokyo, where the 10 winning poems were read aloud.

One winner, a tailor, wrote of his relief upon learning his son was safe after three days of uncertainty when an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan last March.

The theme for this year's traditional five-line tanka contest was "shore".

A tanka is an older form of poetry than the haiku and follows a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7.

The BBC reports thousands of people enter the Imperial Palace poetry competition every year. It is part of the palace's New Year celebrations.

The imperial family also offered their poems for the event. One of Emperor Akihito's verses expressed sorrow and horror in watching the dark waves of the rolling tsunami on TV news footage.

Next year's theme has been announced as ''stand up'', which the BBC says could inspire poems of hope in a recovering Japan.

The tsunami left nearly 20,000 people dead or missing and set off a nuclear crisis at Fukushima.