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How to write Haiku in Japanese symbols

What is Haiku?



Haiku were developed in Japan but recently are known and written all over the world, not in Japan. They are a style of poetic writing using a small number of words to convey a much deeper feeling or emotion.

Traditionally the poems were observations of nature which would evoke a strong sence of the scene described or of the emotions underlying it.

Modern haiku explore many themes and continue to be popular both in Japan and the world.


How to write a haiku in Japanese symbols

A haiku is traditionally a 17 syllable poem of three lines: 5-7-5 (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables). In Japanese, it is called "Go hichi Go" which means 5-7-5. The four great masters of Japanese haiku were

  1. Basho (1644 ~ 94)
  2. Buson (1716 ~ 84)
  3. Issa (1762 ~ 1826)
  4. Shiki (1867 ~ 1902)

A few haiku poems by these great masters follow - you are going to have a go at translating them. A choice of English translations of a world will often be given so that you can "experiment" with your translation.

example of haiku poem

Most of translators try to capture the sense of the haiku poem in English without retaining the 5-7-5 form by once you have the meaning you can try to reduce it to 17 syllables!

Haiku poem by Matuo basho

"Furuike ya, Kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto" by Matsuo Basho

The Japanese symbols used in this haiku poem is the following:

  • Furu ike = old pond
  • ya = conjunction word as a hiragana symbol
  • kawazu = frog
  • Tobikomu = leap or dive
  • Mizu no oto = sound of water



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