What is one thing japan is famous for? Its poetry. Its haiku, mainly. Here in the west, we see it as the “thing with a 5-7-5 metre”, but did you know it’s way more complex than that?
My thought is, I don’t currently have the ability to read most haiku, and I expect I’m by far not the only one here. But if we can’t read the masters’ works, we can try to write some! It probably won’t be good, but it’ll be a great way to:
- Practice written japanese
- Discover new words
- Discover new ways to use words and the japanese language
- Stop being ashamed because we’re all bad here
For those who don’t want to read the article linked above, here are the rules:
Rules of a haiku
- The poem is separated in groups of 5, 7 and 5 morae. A mora is essentially the number of kana in a word that are not small ゃ, ゅ or ょ. (っ counts as a mora). For example, じょうだん is 4 morae: じょ, う, だ and ん.
- The poem is cut into two parts by a cutting word, or 切れ字（きれじ）. It’s a mostly meaningless word that ends one of the parts to cut the poem into two “concepts” that the reader must link. Here is a list of 切れ字.
- The poem describes a moment in a specific season, and “signals” what season it belongs to by using a specific “clichéd” word: a 季語（きご）. Here is a list of 季語.
In english, we write haiku on 3 lines. In japanese, haiku tend to be written on a single one.
That might sound like a lot and indeed it is, but remember your first haiku probably won’t be very good, and that the masters regularly broke these rules, so focus on having fun!
And now, I’ll start by sharing my first haiku, written about two hours ago, so that no one is ashamed of theirs:
My own haiku
黒霞のお 匂いや 着弾か
Ah, the stench
of the dark mist!
Is it a fallen bomb?
(Note: 霞 is the 季語, it belongs to spring. や is the 切れ字.)
So, why don’t you write yours and share it here?