What is a Haiku?

The Haiku is an ancient Japanese poetry form. Traditionally, it consists of three lines with five, seven and five syllables respectively, and includes a seasonal reference, or kigo, drawn from a long but strictly-defined list of words called a saijiki.

At the heart of a ‘true’ Haiku is the juxtaposition of two images or ideas, separated by a kireji, or ‘cutting word’, which acts as a kind of verbal punctuation mark. The greatest and most influential master of the haiku form is Matsuo Basho, who lived in Tokyo in the 17th Century.

Haiku written strictly according to the rules generally lose a lot in translation into English. So, western poets (and increasing numbers of modern Japanese writers) tend to stick to the basic structure and overall ‘feel’ of the original, but give themselves a bit more leeway when it comes to the subject matter. So, the Haiku we’ve created for sunoso are respectful of tradition and true to its spirit, but with a fresh, contemporary approach. Just like our food.

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