What is a Haiku?

A haiku (俳句) is a type of Japanese poem that consists of 17 syllables.  In the simplest sense, a haiku can be written and enjoyed by everyone!  The haiku does not have to employ words that rhyme such as in other types of poetry, but it does have a rhythm and rules that govern its formation.  In Japan haiku is written in a single vertical line.  In English, the three phrases are written as three separate lines.  Traditionally a haiku is written using this framework:

  • 1.  Kiru: The use of a cutting word that separates two ideas.
  • 2.  On: A haiku consists of 17 syllables total, with three phrases.  The first and third phrase consisting of 5 syllables, while the middle phrase has 7.
  • 3.  Kijo:A reference to the seasons with topics that can extend to the heavens, earth, weather, nature, animals, and others.

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Mahiro Takano
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