Winter Haiku: a Cold, Rainy Night

cold and rainy night

Night, and once again
as I wait for you
cold wind turns into rain

– Masaoka Shiki (1867 – 1902)

Masaoka Shiki is regarded as one of the four Japanese great masters of haiku (along with Basho, Buson, and Issa.)  He is credited  with modernizing Japan’s traditional verse forms and for bringing realism into haiku.

Shiki believed in concise representation of reality — without personal interpretations and bias. His poems are snapshots of real situations, conveying images which others can relate to.

Living Sketches

Shiki was an advocate of a technique called sha-sei which loosely translates to “living sketches.” The following is an example of  Shiki’s style:

I want to sleep
swat the flies
softly, please!

Here is another:

Lying sick in bed
I thought I felt
dew drops falling

(byōshō no | ware ni tsuyu chiru | omoi ari)

Below are notes and doodles a friend and I made while talking about Shiki’s haiku.


About armand

Lives in Miyazaki, Japan and is a contributing editor to WAWAZA's blogs.
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