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How to Write a Haiku


Deep into autumn,

And this caterpillar

Still not a butterfly.

Matsuo Basho

Haiku is a traditional type of Japanese type of poetry. It is a short and deep sense and meaning-wise work of art that is supposed to push a person towards a thinking and reflection processes.

Traditional Japanese haiku consists of 17 syllables. If it is written in Japanese - all the Japanese writing symbols are placed on individual lines one below another. What concerns haiku translated to other languages, this type of poetry is commonly written in 3 lines, in this way the lines are built in such a way:

  • 5 syllables
  • 7 syllables
  • 5 syllables.

If speaking about the conceptual component, within the haiku it is divided into 2 parts: either 12 plus 5 syllables or 5 plus 12 syllables.

Usually the smaller part which is called Kigo lets us know the time or the season of the year, of the day. It may point this out directly (using the direct words like evening, summer, dawn, etc.) or indirectly ( using the names of animals, flowers or natural appearances that are typical for a certain time of the year).



Approximate plan of haiku

Try to follow the next scheme of writing haiku:

1st line: Where?

2nd line: What?

3rd line: When?

The lines should somehow (directly or indirectly) answer on these questions.

For example:

The old pond;

A frog jumps in —

The sound of the water.

Original haiku by Matsuo Basho, translated by R.H. Blyth

2 different objects

Also you should pick 2 different objects, images or forms about which you'll tell in the first 2 lines. Then in the third line you should somehow connect these images, better in an unexpected way.



Source of the main idea for haiku is real life, all those events that take place in your life on a regular basis. Try to observe the nature, the people and the whole situation surrounding you. Also to catch the inspiration it is always better to reflect when you are one on one with your own thoughts.


Important rules of writing haiku

  • Show the nature and the objects you are writing about as is.
  • Try to feel the emotions and the atmosphere yourself.
  • Use the common language that you operate during your daily life.
  • Try to mention the season or the time of the year in your haiku.
  • Make sure your haiku is understandable, read it aloud before completing it.
  • Simplify your haiku as much as you can.
  • Use metaphors, comparisons, epithets, anthropomorphisms and other lexical elements.


  • Don't think about rhyme - it's not necessary in haiku.
  • Don't use high poetry style while writing.
  • Don't forget about 3 lines and 5-7-5 syllable scheme.



Remember one very witty and important comparison made by Matsuo Basho, who said that haiku is like a finger that is pointing out at the moon, when there is too much jewelry or other details on the finger, all your attention will be dragged to it but not to the moon. Let your haiku be a simple form revealing your thoughts and emotions.

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