Japanese Haiku Contest

Let’s make a short poem!

What is Haiku?

Haiku is a Japanese short poem with a history of more than 1,000 years. Poet Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902) described haiku as "verbal sketching"—little works of art that capture something observed.


A haiku has three short lines. For balance, the second line is typically longer than the other two. Traditional Japanese haiku have three parts with 5, 7, and 5 syllables per line, making 17 syllables in all.

Here and now

Haiku attempt to capture one moment in time, based on direct observation of something in front of you. Therefore, they are written in the present tense. Like a snapshot or a quick sketch, a haiku should feel spontaneous and capture the essence of something you have experienced.

Connecting with nature

Haiku is a way of looking at the world and connecting with nature. Writing haiku requires slowing down, looking at what is around you, and appreciating the small moments in life. Haiku should awaken the senses—seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling—and often suggests a particular season.

Sharing with others

Haiku is about letting an object or event touch you and then sharing that experience with others. The poet and reader play a collaborative role. A poet doesn't need to describe everything—haiku should be understated, leaving something for the reader to wonder. A good haiku inspires readers to think about what the poet observed and to experience it through their own imaginations.

Here is how to enter the Haiku Contest:

  1. Please make your own haiku (1st line with 5 syllables, 2nd line with 7 syllables and 3rd line with 5 syllables).
  2. You need to include at least one Japanese word in Japanese I class, two Japanese words in Japanese II class, and three Japanese words in Japanese III class.
  3. This time's theme is “spring”. Students described any scenes related to spring.
  4. Additional material such as photos, drawings, audio or video supporting your haiku theme or idea will be assessed as an extra effort or contribution. Be creative! (The citation information is required if the material is not your original work and borrowed from other sources.)
  5. Please submit the best Haiku to the dropbox in the course (Haiku Contest) by March 31, 2017.

An example: An old silent pond... Kaeru jumps to the pond, Splash! Silence again. (kaeru=frog)