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Haiku�

Haiku is a poetic form unique to Japan and is probably the shortest poetic form in the world. It is structured in the set form of 17 syllables, arranged in a 5-7-5 pattern. Matsuo Basho established it as an art form in the Edo period (1603-1867). Other famous haiku poets are Yosa Buson and Kobayashi Issa in the 18th century, and Masaoka Shiki in the 19th century.

Haiku expresses the beauty of nature and the depth of the human heart. Because of its short form, haiku shows rich imagery. A feature of haiku is to include kigo (seasonal words), which act like codes symbolizing one of the seasons. Almost half of all haiku kigo refer to plants. Kigo gives a background to the words that give haiku its breadth and depth.

Here is a famous haiku by Matsuo Basho.�

Furuike ya� 5� (Fu-ru-i-ke-ya) An old pond ...�
Kawazu tobikomu� 7� (Ka-wa-zu-to-bi-ko-mu) A frog jumps in�
Mizu no oto� 5� (Mi-zu-no-o-to) The sound of water

"Kawazu (frog)" is a kigo that symbolizes spring.�

Let's Write it in Kanji!

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