Japanese Poetry: Haiku

Poetry, just the thought of it makes me want to scream and run away into the mountains.  I don’t have a positive experience with poetry.  I dreaded doing poetry in English in high school.  I’ve never really enjoyed reading it.  To be honest, it seems like my eyes glaze over as soon as I see verse written in a novel (songs in Lord of the Rings for example).  But there is one type of poetry that is fairly easy to write, and that is haiku.

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that consists of three phrases in the following pattern: 5-7-5, with the numbers indicating syllables (or in Japanese language, on).  There should also be a word or phrase indicating the season.  Also, one of the phrases should end in a kireji, or a cutting word.  There is no equivalent in English, so you can do what you like in English.  Now, this is traditional haiku.  Modern free-form haiku doesn’t necessarily use the 5-7-5 pattern or a seasonal theme.  But for the purposes of this post, I will be using the traditional form.

Now, I’d like you to watch this video, as I explain about haiku, and even give an example of my really poor skills at poetry.  Honestly, it took me about 10 seconds to think of the haiku in this video.  I also did it in Japanese! I didn’t use a kireji, though.  I stuck with 5-7-5 and a seasonal theme, though I think I was too direct in identifying the season.  So, please enjoy listening to me talk while watching bamboo swaying, a butterfly fluttering around, and cicadas singing.

The haiku I wrote goes as follows:


natsu natsu da,

atsui desu yo ne,

natsu natsu da

Translated in English, this is: It’s summer, summer. Hot, isn’t it? It’s summer, summer.

This is a horrible haiku.  Really.  Maybe I’ll do a series of videos and posts dedicated to bad haiku, on purpose, of course.

When you reply to this post, you must do it in the form of haiku.  Or limerick, if you please.

Art and Writing

Writing and drawing are two very different forms of art, one conveying a story through the written word, the other showing a single moment in the form of a picture.  I wonder how many people can do both.

When I was a kid, I used to draw a lot.  I loved to draw.  I drew birds, dinosaurs, and nature.  In junior high school, I took art class, and I attempted portrait drawings and still life.  In high school, there was more still life and a focus on perspective.  I found that my strengths were in animals, scenery, and still life.  My weakness was portraits.  I think my best drawings to date are a full-sized common loon, a crushed Coke can, and my shoe.  My worst drawing was my classmate’s portrait.

In recent years, I haven’t done much in the way of drawing.  I did draw my wife’s dog (later our dog), and it turned out quite well.  But I’ve been feeling the art bug lately.  There are a lot of things I’d like to draw.

Here in Japan, there are a lot of scenic spots, and I’d love to draw some old buildings, such as temples and shrines, as well as other street scenes.  I want to practice drawing for another purpose, and that is for Ariadne’s artwork.  You see, in addition to all the maps I’ll be drawing, I want to do concept sketches for spacecraft, aerial views of towns and cities, landmark buildings, animals, and plants.  That’s a lot to do, and I intend to put them up on my official author’s website.  All of them will be pencil drawings, as that’s what I’m most comfortable with.  What you won’t see is colour drawings.  If I ever make a book with my sketches for Ariadne, they would definitely be in black and white.

If you write, can you also draw?