Local Social Drama - Basho - Haiku - A Journey Into Nature - Ishan Reddy

Haiku – A Journey into Nature

Haiku – A Journey Into Nature

‘Haiku’ – a Japanese version of a short poem, explained in a specific format of three lines. Each line is written to mean in succession to the line before. A 5 before a 7 before another 5 syllable lines in tandem with each other to tell a story. A story about the weather turning cold after warmth, the victory of the good over evil. The light beyond the infinite darkness. All this compressed into the beautiful poems called ‘Haikus’. The phases in which the haikus are depicted are in parts or a combination of parts. The parts aren’t exactly two halves of a single poem, yet somehow interlinked to form the haikus. The whole heart of creating a poem is defined by the phenomena of cutting. Or as the Japanese call it, the ‘kireji’. ‘Kireji’ is known as the essence of cutting.

Hokku, or haiku as we modern people acknowledge it now, has been around for centuries. The scripture in its own birth language was inked in a single vertical line. A whole story painted down in a single line using a rhythm of ‘5-7-5’ syllable words. In English however, the hokku is written parallel to the vertical line, using three lines with the combination of ‘5-7-5’ syllable words. The integral and raw meaning of the word haiku means ‘to listen’.

Now, how often do we listen to things, to the sounds around us, to people sharing their experiences? How often do we appreciate the nature around us?

The haiku represents each story to be a beacon for everyone to actually imagine they are listening to the sounds or sensing the images as depicted in the story. Each story has a beginning, a middle and an end. In any one of these sections, a cutting word or ‘kireji’ is chosen to fill in a sense of void or pause between the three verses. The ‘kireji’ is more often than not put at the end to signify a stronger closure for the stories. The beginnings are subtle while the middle is descriptive and the endings are strong with a sense of metaphorical values imbued in it.

The oldest and most recognized haiku is Basho’s Old pond. In Japanese, it goes like

The old pond

A frog leaps in.

Sound of the water.

You can check out some translations for this one here – The Old Pond – Basho

Local Social Drama - Basho - Haiku - A Journey Into Nature - Ishan Reddy

Get Basho: The Complete Haiku


The haiku talks about what a person hears when he sees a frog take a leap into a pond. The sound of the water splashing as the frog leaps into it is what is being conveyed in a sense. There could be many interpretational outcomes from this single haiku. As Einstein’s third law of motion, every action made, here the frog deciding to make the leap, produces an equal and opposite reaction, as in the water splashing making a distinct sound.

Another famous known Haiku is ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’, or ‘The Great Wave’ or simply called ‘The Wave’. The masterpiece was born out of the Japanese poet Hokusai. He never wanted fame or never willingly wanted to change the world with his Haikus, but he only wrote it to make sense of all the beauty, and the poignant sights of an impeccable Japan.

Read more about Hokusai here

The haikus are mostly a way to express his love for Japan’s nature and also for its habitants. ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ is a part of a much bigger picture. He wrote it as one of the parts out of the total 36 for his work called ‘Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji’.

You can see Mount Fuji on the bottom of the picture. Legend has it that a goddess had once dropped the secret of immortality at the peak of the mountain. And a great tide prevented any boat or man or creature to ever make the climb to attain that secret. The whole story revolves around the concept of the person who can find the will within him/her to push through and at least try to make the climb, try and try again. And again and again.

Until he finally finds the right moment and the right path to reach the top. That is true immortality. Knowing that every choice might very well lead to failure, to be immortal is to try against all odds. To master the impossible and be remembered as a God. That my friend is to live forever.

The Japanese writers of 1600 mastered the art of appreciating the way nature calls to them, the way the world talks to them, most importantly the realizations that they experience through this medium is what makes it all the more worth it.

How long before you start listening?


Write haikus.

Listen more.

Learn about your folklore.

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