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.

9 thoughts on “Japanese Poetry: Haiku”

  1. Poetry, Jay Dee
    It’s really not your thing, sIr
    But love your blogging

    (I tried, not too good a beat and rhythm me-self!)

  2. I went to GenCon this past weekend, and one of the games I played was Legend of the Five Rings. A challenge in a module was to create a haiku about a samurai’s duty, using the sword as a metaphor. It was rather fun to do:

    Strong as folded steel
    Sure as the graceful sword’s arc
    The samurai’s call

    1. Interesting challenge. And thanks for sharing your haiku.

      What’s interesting is that the word “samurai” has 3 syllables in English, but it’s actually 4 in Japanese. sa-mu-ra-i.

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