Nurtures Ability to Observe Nature
It is possible to write haiku in your everyday life. In Japan, both adults and children go on ginko, or a haiku walk, in the woods, on the beach or in parks to write haiku. While on a ginko, you may discover the insects or birds you have overlooked in your everyday life. Making haiku are the words that come to mind the moment you make these discoveries or notice signs of the change of seasons, such as fallen leaves on the ground.
|Children prepare to write haiku by blindfolding themselves in order to feel nature with their bodies at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.||
A boy counts syllables with his fingers to write a haiku as his grandmother looks on at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
A girl writes her own haiku on a tanzaku, or a narrow slip of paper, at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
This summer, there was a haiku event joined by a group of children and their parents on a ginko at a park in Tokyo. The children were not only observing nature carefully but, at times blindfolded, touching trees with their hands and bodies or rolling on the grass to write haiku on what they felt. To develop the habit of thinking about things through actual experience in this manner nurtures your ability to understand haiku and other forms of literature. It is said that it also helps sharpen your senses for the study of the natural sciences.
One of the joys of haiku is to hold a haiku meeting and choose outstanding works.
© Nishi Public Junior High School, Kitamoto City, Saitama Prefecture
When you have written a fine haiku, get together with other haiku poets in your group and hold a kukai, or a haiku meeting. Write your haiku on a narrow slip of paper without writing your name and submit it as everyone else does. After all the poems have been read, each person votes for the haiku they liked best. It is fun to find out that a boy who usually uses rough language writes very romantic poems or to see that a classmate who does not particularly stand out in studies or sports has his/her haiku chosen as the best haiku of the day. Surprises are one of the joys of haiku.
Haiku Goes Global
Because writing haiku trains you to say exactly what you want in just a few words and so quickly, haiku is taught in school in an increasing number of countries and regions. To provide occasions to make public short, three-line poems in your own language without following the strict 5-7-5 pattern or the kigo rule of Japanese haiku, the “World Children’s Haiku Contest” has been held every other year since 1990.
Example of haiku awarded grand prize at World Children’s Haiku Contest (2011-12) held in Australia.
Santa surfs （Santa safingu）
On the wave （Nami no ue）
© JAL Foundation
This contest is open to anyone 15 years old or younger and requires children to send their short, three-line poems, each with a picture. In 2011, about 12,000 children from 25 countries and regions entered their works in the contest. Poems straight from children’s daily lives and their colorful paintings convey vividly the happy lives of children in different countries and regions.
Example of haiku awarded grand prize at World Children’s Haiku Contest (2009-2010) held in Russia.
The school is like mother （Gakko wa okasan mitai）
Loves and teaches everyone （Minna wo aishite oshiete kureru）
I run to her with joy （Ureshikute kakete iku）
“Impressions of School” (“Haiku By World Children”, Vol. 11) © Bronze Publishing
Since haiku was first introduced to France at the beginning of the 20th century, it has spread throughout the world. It is said there are around 8 million to 10 million enjoying haiku writing in Japan, and 2 million in some 50 countries and regions outside Japan.
Example of haiku awarded grand prize at World Children’s Haiku Contest (2011-12) held in Morocco.
Forest festival （Mori no omatsuri）
Trees dancing also （Odori nagara ki wa）
Playing with wind （Kaze to asonde iruyo）
© JAL Foundation
Haiku, which was originally born in Japan, has crossed the language barrier, becoming popular as a form of literature shared throughout the world.
World Children’s Haiku Contest: Prize-giving ceremony at Singapore contest.
© JAL Foundation