1. From Japan to You: Haiku from Around the World

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    1. Learn about haiku, a poetic Japanese literary form.
    2. Practice creative writing by composing a haiku following the traditional Japanese format.

    Research question

    1. When translated into other languages the main elements of haiku — kigo and kiredzi — are preserved.
    2. Due to its versatility/universality haiku can exist in any language and culture.


    Paper, paint or ink, brush or pen.

    Why use data from multiple participants?

    Participation of users from different countries and regions will test whether haiku can be understood in different cultures. Composing your own poems will initiate creative interaction among the GL community.

    Investigation Protocol

    1. Select one Japanese haiku translated into your native language. We suggest looking at something by classical Japanese poets: Matsuo Basho, Kobayashi Issa, Yosa Buson, and others.

      а) Read it slowly; ponder its meaning. In order to better understand the poem, please read the information on the structure of haiku poems found in the Structure of a Haiku sectionbelow. Note: Record all information about the source of your haiku translation. If you found it in a book, record the bibliographic information (year, editors(s), publisher, etc.). For information found on the Internet, record the URL of the website(s). Also record the date the website was last updated. Usually, this information is found in the bottom of the webpage.
      b) Look for kigo and kiredzi in the translation of the haiku.

    2. Create your own haiku. First, choose a theme for your first haiku. Remember, this type of poem always contains a seasonal reference. Elements from the natural world — weather, time of day and year, nature — will serve as the key to unlocking your senses. Use the Structure of a Haiku sectionbelow for your guidelines.
    3. Write your own haiku on white paper. You can use ink, a special brush, or an old-fashion style pen to make special stylistic letters using calligraphy techniques. If you wish, you can add drawings or other artistic elements to further engage the senses, making your haiku into an art project. Try to preserve the aesthetics of the haiku: minimalism and a monochromatic or limited color scheme.
    4. Take a photo of your haiku art project. Make sure it is in the appropriate format and size for the Report Form (up to 10 MB, in png, jpg or gif formats).
    5. Complete and submit Report Form.
    6. Read more haiku, create more of your own haiku, submit new Report Forms, and share your ideas and findings in the discussion.


    Read More

    Structure of a Haiku

    Haiku consist of two parts. The first part captures and paints a picture, the instant being captured by the poet — cherry blossoms, an evening street, a moonless night.

    The second part of a haiku continues the thread of the first half, with perhaps a change in the angle of perception or with more details of the image.

    Kiredzi. What is that?

    Separating these two parts is kiredzi, usually translated into English as “the cutting.” The kiredzi image in haiku sets in motion the change in symbolism, leading the poet to his/her next thought. It functions as a structural separation while still communicating the same idea. In English translations of original haiku or haiku authored in English, kiredzi is either omitted or can be presented in the form of a single word or punctuation of some sort (i.e., How!).

    Learn about kigo

    Another important element of the haiku genre is the seasonal indicator—the kigo. It refers to the time and/or seasonal elements of nature present in the poem (i.e., summer or winter, morning or evening). The seasonal indicator, kigo, is generally a required part of each haiku. In Bashō’s haiku on “A Crow on a Bare Branch,” the seasonal word is aki-no kure, “autumn evening.”

    The kigo is not always stated directly or literally but rather the use of poetic symbolism or imagery provides clues (i.e., the first leaf fell: the beginning of autumn, blossoming peaches: spring), adding more mystery to the often puzzling, nuanced meaning of a haiku.

    The size of a haiku

    The original Japanese haiku has 17 syllables.
    It is based on a 5-7-5 syllable pattern and is generally made up of three lines. The “cutting” word—kiredzi—divides the poem into parts of 5 and 12 syllables.

    Translations of haiku, and haiku originating in languages other than Japanese, certainly reflect language differences and often cannot copy exact literary structure without making the haiku incomprehensible or compromising the original meaning.

    For example, English haiku often do not follow the strict syllable count found in Japanese haiku. Rather than the typical 17 syllables, many haikufound in English journals highlight haiku consisting of 10–14 syllables. Another difference is that original haiku texts are presented in Japanese in the monolinear form while English translations usually render a haiku in a format made of three lines.

    Safety tips

    There are no special safety tips.

    • Project was published on:December 18, 2013
    Report Form Before filling in the Report Form, please read the Investigation Protocol