Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that is 3 lines long and follows a set number of syllables for each line.
2nd line : 7 syllables
3rd line : 5 syllables
Haikus are normally written about nature and generally contain a Kigo: a word to represent the season in which it is set.
The best-known Japanese haiku is Bashō‘s “old pond”:
This separates into syllables as:
- fu-ru-i-ke ya (5) (old pond)
- ka-wa-zu to-bi-ko-mu (7) (a frog leaps in)
- mi-zu no o-to (5) (water’s sound)
An alternate translation, which preserves the syllable counts in English could be;
At the age old pond
A frog leaps into water
A deep resonance
- Here are 3 more that I wrote for the Year 4 classes at school. They worked well as they are studying Poetry in their classroom, so when Haiku is introduced in Japanese lessons it adds authenticity to the topic. These can even be used individually to introduce Japanese food or sports or for Hiroshima Day.
Anime and Manga Haiku are fun too. Students can write about Australian sports, animals and pets and popular kids’ activities (yes, Minecraft and Pokemon too)
Haiku are great for so many students as they are short, fun, and as they do not have to rhyme, relatively easy to write.Below are some Anime (animation) Haiku.
The Japanese Haiku follow the 5-7-5 pattern, however one syllable is one character – sometimes slightly different from the way that we would count the same word. This would be great to do with classes who are learning Hiragana as it will deepen their knowledge of the Hiragana and Japanese pronunciation.
The first Haiku about Doraemon is an example of this; we say Dorae-mon as 2 syllables, whereas is Japanese it takes a 5-count どーらーえーもーん. For those of you wondering about the use of Hiragana for Doraemon and Pikachu – these are designed for primary students who haven’t learned Katakana yet. It would be a wonderful activity for students as they learn Katakana to use both Hiragana and Katakana in a Haiku – even some Kanji.
Here are the PDFs if you want to print them for display.
There are some great Haiku apps and sites available. Here is a free one that I have found to be easy to use. This takes students through the steps to write a Haiku. At the end, the background can be chosen and the Haiku saved, even emailed.
There are many more apps and sites available as well. 楽しんでください Enjoy :-)