“A mighty reddish outcrop breaks the surface, breaching the snowfield”

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Outcrop on the mountain above the former Besshi Copper Mines. Copper ore exposed on the surface has a reddish tinge attributable to oxidation.
Photo courtesy of Sumitomo Historical Archives

This haiku was composed by Seishi Yamaguchi, who joined Sumitomo Limited Partnership in 1926 and worked in labor affairs while also achieving recognition as a notable poet.

Seishi visited Niihama in February 1957 at the invitation of Sumitomo Metal Mining. Seeking inspiration for his poetry, he took the opportunity to visit the ruins of the Besshi Copper Mines. A dark reddish outcrop of rock breached the surface of the snowfield enveloping the mountain heights. This exposure of bedrock on the surface of the Earth indicated the rich mineral resources deep underground.

This outcrop on the southern slope of the Ishizuchi Mountains in Ehime Prefecture was found in 1690. The discovery led directly to the opening of the Besshi Copper Mines that were worked for 283 years. So the outcrop piercing the Earth’s surface is a majestic symbol of Sumitomo’s emergence and development.

This haiku brilliantly depicts the striking contrast between the white snowfield and the upthrusting reddish outcrop, alluding to the energy embodied in the underlying mineral vein.

Seishi Yamaguchi
Seishi was born in 1901 in Kyoto. Seishi began composing haiku when he joined Kyodai Sanko Haikukai, a poetry society at the Third High School of Kyoto. After graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1926, he joined Osaka Sumitomo Limited Partnership where he was mainly engaged in labor affairs. He retired from the company in 1942 for medical reasons and thereafter devoted himself to literature.