Akita International Haiku / Senryu / Tanka Network

4-38 Kotobukimachi, Araya, Akita-shi, Akita 010-1606, Japan

TEL 018-824-2188



May 2009



In recent times, Japanese culture has spread all over the world.  Modern cultural phenomena such as animated cartoons, comics and karaoke have all found an international audience.  At the same time, traditional arts such as haiku have spread and are now thought highly of throughout the world.

In the United States, some elementary and high schools teach haiku in class. Pupils write English haiku, and some of these are brought back to—and appreciated in—Japan.  All over the world, people have discovered the charms of haiku, so that now there are haiku lovers in dozens of countries.  They read and write haiku in their own native languages as well as in English.

In the West, haiku is popular in countries such as the United States, Canada, the UK, Croatia, Romania, Russia, Poland, Serbia, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and so on.  Haiku is also loved in Asia and Oceania; it is popular in India,Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and so on.  These years haiku has been loved in African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and so on. 

As haiku spread, haikuists and lovers of Japanese culture gradually began to promote exchanges and friendship with each other.  National haiku societies were established in each country, and the Internet has enabled them to promote further exchanges, communicate more with each other, and foster deeper friendships.  The Internet has also made it easier for haikuists to share haiku written in their own languages as well as in English, and exchange information on haiku conferences, haiku contests, and so on.  As a result, haiku culture has developed into a kind of internationally-shared cultural heritage.

Thanks to the internationalization of haiku and Japanese culture, the Haiku International Association in Japan started to publish HI, a magazine in which Japanese haiku selected from reader submissions are printed along with their English translations.  They also accept haiku written in English.  Thus, the time has come when haiku are written in English as well as in Japanese.

Like haiku, senryu and tanka have come to be written in English as well as Japanese in Japan; some haiku lovers overseas have discovered the charms of senryu and tanka, and begun to write senryu and tanka in their own languages.

In particular, they are popular in the United States, Canada and the UK.  Haiku poets in these countries write senryu and tanka in addition to haiku. In recent years some poets who specialize in tanka have also begun to appear.  As a result, some poets in Japan have begun writing senryu and tanka in English and sharing them with foreign poets.  Through these exchanges, they have promoted friendship with each other.  We live in an increasingly international age, when Japanese short literary forms of poetry are written in English as well as Japanese.

With this current situation in mind, we have established the Akita International HST Network, with the motto, “We all try our best / in our busy, busy lives / to write poetry.”  We have opened this web site in the hope that children as well as adults will write and enjoy haiku, senryu and tanka, and that they will share it on our network.

Why don’t you try writing a haiku, senryu or tanka to share on the Akita International HST Network?

What are Haiku, Senryu and Tanka?

To help you get started, here is a short introduction to Japanese poetry styles.

What are Haiku?

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 morae (or on), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7 and 5 morae respectively.  Haiku typically contain a kigo, or seasonal reference, and a kireji, or verbal caesura (cutting word).

English-language haiku poets think of haiku as a Japanese form of poetry generally (but not always) consisting of 17 syllables, usually within three lines, with 5, 7 and 5 syllables.

In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku. The essential element of form in English-language haiku is that each haiku is a short one-breath poem that usually contains a juxtaposition of images.

Most haiku writers prefer poems that refer to nature and social events, but some of them don’t always place an exacting seasonal word in the poem. Furthermore, a few of them write haiku composed on one or two lines in less than 17 syllables.  Currently the majority of haiku are written in 11 short syllables in a 3-5-3 format.

And Senryu?

Senryu is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer morae (or on) in total.  However, senryu tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryu are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Unlike haiku, senryu do not include a kireji or verbal caesura (cutting word), and do not generally include a kigo, or seasonal word.

It is often said that both haiku and senryu can be funny, but that if it’s funny, it’s probably senryu.  Both haiku and senryu can be about nature, but if it’s about nature, it’s probably a haiku.  In addition, both haiku and senryu can be about nature or human nature.  Both haiku and senryu can be serious or humorous/satirical.  A serious poem about nature is certainly a haiku.  And a funny/satirical poem about human nature is certainly a senryu.

So what about Tanka?

Tanka consist of five units (often treated as separate lines when transliterated or translated), usually with the following mora pattern: 5-7-5-7-7.

The 5-7-5 is called the kami-no-ku (“upper phrase”), and the 7-7 is called the shimo-no-ku (“lower phrase”).

The Current Haiku Situation Inside and Outside Japan

With the remarkable rising popularity of haiku, more and more haiku contests are being held both in Japan and elsewhere.

In the United States, the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United States promotes a haiku contest for elementary school pupils and high school students.  It is held by the society of Japanese language teachers in northeastern USA and the departments of English and Japanese in the international school of the United Nations.  Haiku are accepted in both English and Japanese.

In Canada, the Canadian Society for Asian Arts holds a haiku contest at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.  They say, “Bloom with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.  In the spirit of international friendship, submit a haiku on the cherry blossoms to the Haiku Invitational 2009.”  In 2009, 1450 haiku were submitted by haiku lovers of all ages from 29 different countries.

In Japan, one of the haiku contests is “Youth Haiku Grand Prix” by Ryukoku University, to which pupils and students as well as haiku lovers can send English haiku.  Japanese haiku can also be submitted to the contest.

In the HIA haiku contest held by the Haiku International Association, senders can also write haiku in English and Japanese.  This contest is well-known to haiku lovers overseas.

Haiku contests can inspire and motivate us, but it is also rewarding just to write and enjoy haiku, and share them with each other.

Each individual haiku is based on its writer’s inner feelings and observations of life.  Haiku are a significant expression to readers and can convey images which will linger in their minds for a long time afterwards.

Would you like to try writing haiku in English to share on our Network?  Help spread haiku all around the world today!

The Current Senryu and Tanka Situations Inside and Outside Japan

In 1986, Cor van den Heuvel, who was once the president of the Haiku Society of America, edited The Haiku Anthology, and he reported in its supplement that senryu had been as popular as haiku in the early 1980s.  In 1993, a British haikuist, Michael Dylan Welch, edited and published Fig Newtons: Senryu to Go, in which he wrote about the differences between haiku and senryu with precision.  He won a Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America.  Since about 1990, the Haiku Poets of Northern California have been running a senryu contest, as part of their San Francisco International Haiku and Senryu Contest.

Unlike Japanese poets who often write primarily or only in one poetry form, many English-language tanka poets also write other forms of short poetry including haiku and senryu.  These days, however, some of them have published tanka journals or established tanka societies in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

In 2000, the Tanka Society of America was established, and the Anglo-Japanese Tanka Society (UK) hosts a web site with tanka and articles.  Upwards of 20 literary journals for tanka (both in print and on the web) are regularly published in these countries.  Since 1989, AHA Books in the United States has sponsored the international tanka contest, ‘The Tanka Splendor Awards.’

In Japan, Toyo University started a tanka contest for students as one of the events to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1987.  Since then, the contest has been held twenty two times.  Senior high school students and college or university students are expected to send tanka which they have written about how they see things and how they feel about their lives.

Why don’t you try writing senryu or tanka in English, too?

Last of all, we would like to tell you about two local contests held by the Akita Municipal Government and its Board of Education.  They hold both the Akita City Short Verse Contest (divided into haiku, senryu, tanka, and free-form poems) and the National Haiku Contest, which is held in honour of haikuist Ishii Rogetsu, who is one of the most popular haiku poets in Japan.  He was taught by Masaoka Shiki, one of the greatest haiku masters in Japan.  Ishii Rogetsu was born and brought up in the area of Yuwa, Akita City, in which Akita International University is now situated.  We hope that a contest given by our network will be given at the same time and in cooperation with these two Akita City contests.


The Akita International Haiku / Senryu / Tanka Network is composed of lovers and experts of all short poetry forms, such as haiku, senryu, and tanka.  We have opened this web site in order to share these short poems with each other.

Readers are invited to send haiku, senryu, or tanka in English or Japanese by postcard to Hidenori Hiruta , 4-38, Kotobukimachi, Araya, Akita-shi, Akita, 010-1606, Japan or e-mail to shhiruta at nifty dot com.  Haiku, senryu, and tanka sent by readers will be posted on our web site.


Our Network’s principle projects include the following:

(1). Presentation of verses sent by readers.

(a). Haiku, senryu, or tanka written in English.

(b). Haiku, senryu, or tanka written in Japanese.

They appear in Japanese (both kanji and transliterated into the Roman alphabet) with their English translation.

(2). Instructional articles written by experts on verse.

(3). Spreading of information related to verse contests, verse conferences, etc.

(4). Exchanges with verse lovers in other nations.

(5). Verse contests (haiku, senryu and tanka), including photo haiku and photo senryu (planned for July).

The contest is expected to be given in cooperation with the Haiku contest in honour of Ishii Rogetsu and Akita City Short Verse Contest held in the same period

(6). Verse-writing quizzes and the announcement of the results of the verse contest and the exhibition of selected verses.

(a). At the Akita International University Festival (in October).

(b). At the Akita International Festival (in November).

(c). The verses sent to the contest are printed in the anthology by the Ishii Rogetsu and Akita City Short Verse Contests

(7). The publication of a yearly journal (in June).

(8). The opening of our web site, the Akita International Haiku Network.


59 thoughts on “About

  1. john mcdonald-san

    Thank you very much for encouraging us!
    We hope that you’ll enjoy our site.
    Our webmaster, Thorfinn Tait, is from Orkney, and studied in Edinburgh.
    With our best regards. Thank you again.

  2. Lindquist-san
    Thank you very much for your nice comment.
    We hope you’ll enjoy our website.
    With our best regards.Thank you again.

  3. Doctor Gabi Greve san

    Thank you very much for your nice suggestions.
    I know another blog of yours: Daruma San in Japan, Japanese Art and Culture, which I found in your comment on haiku translated into English in ‘Blue Willow Haiku World’.
    W’d like to share haiku and knowledge about kigo with each other.
    I also have another blog: akitahaiku, whose address is : http://akitahaiku.blogspot.com/.
    Would you please look at this blog too, and send your comment to me? Thank you again. Hidenori Hiruta

  4. Dear Hiruta san,
    thanks for your kind reply.
    Well, I work on a kind of DARUMAPEDIA … smile … about Japanese culture in its many aspects.

    I am German and live in Japan since 1977 …

    Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
    Gabi, Okayama

  5. Doctor Gabi Greve san,
    thank you very much for your nice comment.
    I’d like to thank you again for looking at my blog.
    I hope that your studies will enlighten us from now on. Hidenori Hiruta, Akita

  6. Domo arigato, Hiruta-san for the journal you sent me. I am very grateful and honoured. I sent you an e-mail also, by the way.

    Thanks again,
    ~ josh

  7. Sir,
    I’m glad to know about this haiku site. I’d like to send some of my haiku for the online Spring Festival.
    Warm regards,
    Sunil Uniyal
    New Delhi, India.

  8. Dear Hiruta-San:

    I’m a Californian living/haikuing in Taiwan. I’ve just spotted your site /thx to haijinx/. Impressive! Loads and loads of love here. Thanks from all.

    I’d like to participate in yr International Spring Festival. Plz, send some info my way.

    Hsinchu, Taiwan

  9. I learnt about your site today and was thrilled. I am keen to share your efforts for the spread of Haiku-Culture by submitting my own humble haiku writings. Wishing you a bright future !

    vishnu p kapoor

  10. I am very much happy to view your web site. It is really relished much for me. I will also write haiku poems about nature. This haiku culture will develop the humanity value of the world.


  11. Dear Mr Hiruta,

    We are starting a new magazine, Haiku Pix Review, devoted to haiku and
    other short forms of Japanese origin. Currently we are seeking submissions.
    We would appreciate if you could publish our announcement:

    Haiku Pix Review seeks brief poems employing “word-pictures” to evoke
    Subscriptions: $20. Submit 1-10 poems. Your name, address, email on each
    page. Bio required.
    Deadline: October 31. Submissions: Haiku Pix Review,
    11F, No.489, Tian-fu Rd., Hsinchu 30058, Taiwan.
    For more information, visit: http://www.haikupix.com/

    Yours sincerely,

    Marie Kasprzak

  12. What a wonderful addition to the haiku sites that welcome poets from all over the world!

    As there seem to be thousands of haiku yet unread and thousands more being written with more to be written, one more site like yours is a boon to all poets who wish to share and learn about haiku. I have been writing haiku only recently but I’m loving it more and more. Please let me know how I can send you some of my published haiku for you to consider posting on this site.

    Thanks again.

    Alegria Imperial

  13. I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this beneficial content.

  14. Wonderful article post on the blog bro. This particular is just a tremendously nicely structured blog post, just the data I was looking just for. Thank you

  15. First Haiku

    Life is a journey
    old cat sleeping on futon
    road in the distance

    for your consideration in your festival

  16. Dear Hiruta-san,

    Thank you very much for the very interesting site.
    I am writing lyrics in Japanese, but not “haiku”
    (I write in free style).
    I’ll be happy to know your opinion about my poetry.
    Thank you very much!

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  22. You might be interested in the recent emergence of a tradition of composing planetological haiku!

    Jan. 10, 2012 | 17:33 PST | Jan. 11 01:33 UTC
    Happy LPSC Deadline Day, especially to composers of abstract haiku
    Permalink: http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00003322/

    EDIT Jan 11: Alan Treiman commented that he was the first to compose an LPSC haiku, in 2001; it’s added below. I’ve also added several other authors’ poetry.
    Today was a high-stress day for many in the world of planetary geology: the deadline for submission of abstracts for the 2012 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC). This deadline is always in early January, just a bit too soon after the holidays. For most large science conferences, abstracts can be hammered out in very little time: a title, a list of authors, and a few-sentence promise to talk about topics A, B, and C is enough. But LPSC abstracts are quite different. They are two pages of formatted text with references and illustrations — basically, mini-papers — and they generally cannot be banged out of a keyboard in a few minutes before a deadline.

    A few virtuous sorts no doubt submitted theirs before the end of 2011, but for most people, it’s been a mad rush to complete the work today. So I am sure there are quite a few tired geologists with sore fingers downing glad draughts of their beverages of choice this evening, happy that the ordeal of writing and submitting (or hounding their students to write and submit, or hounding their advisors to PLEASE review because the DEADLINE is in AN HOUR, for crying out loud!) abstracts is over. To all of you lunar and planetary geologists: cheers!

    I was reminded of the deadline and also of a curious LPSC tradition this morning by a Tweet from asteroid astronomer Andy Rivkin:

    #1537 CV chondrites show / spectra like the target of / MarcoPolo-R

    To an LPSC alum, the “#1537” is clearly an LPSC abstract number. As for the rest: it’s a haiku. Why would Andy be summarizing his abstract in haiku form?

    The answer goes back to at least 2002 and quite likely before, but it’ll take a little explaining. To a scientist, an “abstract” is a summary of a work of research — it’s the short version, the main points, the executive summary. But an LPSC “abstract” is a two-page paper with no summary. It can be a bit hard to get the gist of a work of research by scanning the whole article, yet the talk titles are often not detailed enough. At some point, around the time that electronic distribution of LPSC abstracts to conference attendees became the norm, the Lunar and Planetary Institute (which hosts LPSC) began to require submissions of short abstracts of the abstracts being submitted. However useful these short versions are, it also seems kind of silly to have to write an abstract of an abstract.

    The silliness inspired a meme of writing short versions of LPSC abstracts in haiku form. It’s spread to some other conferences, too. On its surface it’s a silly idea and perhaps serves mostly as a coping mechanism for the stress of completing the LPSC abstract submission process. But there’s an art to capturing the essence of one’s consuming work in only seventeen syllables.

    Although he’s not sure if he was the first, or how it began, Ralph Lorenz (a scientist who’s published papers on everything from Titan’s dunes to the flight dynamics of Frisbees) and his coauthors have certainly been the most prolific composers of LPSC abstract haiku. These include such gems as:

    Hydrocarbon sea
    under Titan’s icy wastes
    flows from pole to pole
    LPSC #1966, 2009
    “A Global Subsurface Alkanofer System on Titan?”

    Titan’s surface forged
    not by blows but by churning
    Carnot tells us why.
    LPSC #1165, 2002
    “Tectonic Titan: Landscape Energetics and the Thermodynamic Efficiency of Mantle Convection”

    Not to be outdone by her spouse, Elizabeth Turtle (Titan, Moon, and Mars planetary surface process geologist) has composed a few, including possibly my favorite:

    Atmosphere desires
    radar, but not eyes, implies
    hydrocarbon seas
    LPSC #2311, 2005
    “Liquid Hydrocarbons on Titan’s Surface? How Cassini ISS Observations Fit into the Story (So Far)”

    And Andy Rivkin, who I mentioned at the top of this article, got into the act last year:

    Lutetia’s surface
    Rosetta looked at its north
    We looked to the south
    LPSC #1439, 2011
    “Observations of 21 Lutetia in the 2–4 µm Region with the NASA IRTF”

    I hunted through the abstract volumes for haiku by these three authors and came up with the following list. However, I know that others have imitated the meme. I invite people to comment or send me an email pointing to other abstract haiku, and I’ll add them here!


    Treiman and Thompson, 2001 (LPSC #1104): “The ALTA II Spectrometer: A Tool for Teaching About Light and Remote Sensing”
    Bright leaves on dark sky / Beyond the brilliant rainbow / Vision fades away.


    Lorenz et al., 2002 (LPSC #1165): “Tectonic Titan: Landscape Energetics and the Thermodynamic Efficiency of Mantle Convection”
    Titan’s surface forged, not by blows but by churning. Carnot tells us why.


    Lorenz., 2003 (LPSC #1248): “Thermodynamics with a Pinch of Salt : Martian Landscape Energetics”
    Melting ice on Mars / Carries salt to northern seas / Needs much energy


    Lorenz et al., 2005 (LPSC #1682): “Titan’s Elusive Lakes? Properties and Context of Dark Spots in Cassini TA Radar Data”
    RADAR shows dark spots; σ0 seems like asphalt. Titan’s ethane lakes?

    Turtle et al., 2005 (LPSC #1990): “Liquid Hydrocarbons on Titan’s Surface? How Cassini ISS Observations Fit into the Story (So Far)”
    Atmosphere desires; radar, but not eyes, implies; hydrocarbon seas


    Lorenz et al., 2006 (LPSC #1249): “RADAR Imaging of Giant Longitudinal Dunes: Namib Desert (Earth) and the Belet Sand Sea (Titan)”
    Titan’s dark regions. Long dunes, like Zen rock garden. Seas of sand, not oil.


    Lorenz, 2007 (LPSC #1326): “Huygens at Titan: A Summary of Science Results from Engineering Measurements”
    Huygens Probe was there; felt turbulence and soft ground; small sensors tell us.

    Lorenz et al., 2007 (LPSC #1329): “Titan’s Shape, Radius and Landscape from Cassini Radar Altimetry”
    Titan: Flat, with hills; radar profiles new landscape: secrets from echoes


    Lorenz et al., 2009 (LPSC #1990): “Ontario Lacus: Brilliant Observations of a Titan Lake by the Cassini Radar Altimeter”
    Rad altimetry, Ontario, truly flat, Glints like a mirror.

    Mitchell et al., 2009 (LPSC #1966): “A Global Subsurface Alkanofer System on Titan?”
    Hydrocarbon sea, under Titan’s icy wastes flows from pole to pole

    Neish et al., 2009 (LPSC #1071): “Out of Africa: Radarclinometry of the Sand Seas of Namibia and Titan”
    Far from the Namib; Dunes of organic solids; Mimic quartz cousins


    Cohen et al., 2010 (LPSC #1533): “Robotic Lunar Landers for Science and Exploration”
    Soaring toward the Moon / robotic landers will seed / cloudbursts of knowledge.


    Cohen et al., 2011 (LPSC #2201): “Further Development of Small Robotic Landers for Planetary Missions”
    Touching the surface / Lander designs grant access / To dazzling worlds.

    Lorenz, 2011 (LPSC #1575): ” A Long-Duration Stand-Alone Venus Lander Mission: Scientific and Mission Design Considerations ”
    Feel Venus’ heartbeat / Try fifty days, or two hundred / Sun, Earth rise and set.

    Neish and Lorenz, 2011 (LPSC #1412): “Titan’s Global Crater Population: A New Assessment”
    Titan’s cold surface / Short on craters, big and small / A youthful planet

    Rivkin et al., 2011 (LPSC #1439): “Observations of 21 Lutetia in the 2–4 µm Region with the NASA IRTF”
    Lutetia’s surface / Rosetta looked at its north / We looked to the south.

    Turtle et al., 2011 (LPSC #1459): “Seasonal Changes in Titan’s Meteorology Bring Rain to Low Latitudes”
    Titan’s equinox / Brings equatorial clouds / Rain amid the dunes

    2012 (submitted)

    Barbara Cohen:

    Heavy bombardment / stoked the hearth of the goddess / now frozen in time. (#1265)

    How to date a rock? / Use potassium-argon / or bring it flowers. (#1267)

    Neat gadget to gauge / Heat, moisture and momentum, / Sailing Ligeia

    After springtime rain, / Titan’s weather’s quiet as / northern summer looms.

    Lorenz AND Turtle:
    Titan’s methane rains / Days every century / Perhaps TiME will tell

    CV chondrites show / spectra like the target of / MarcoPolo-R

  23. The two biggest contributions made by Japan to world culture (pre-Manga) are both very small !

    As good as sushi
    Pick up this little haiku
    And swallow it whole!

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  34. Dear Hiruta-san !
    its been a long long time since I last wrote to you. I have not done any haiku for a long time. Sickness and depression has made me unable to write. But now I hope to find back to the road of Haiku.

    I have written some today, thinking of my childhoods Christmas time. My mother was very important to me, and when she died at the age of 37 and I was only 13, Christmas was never the same.

    Drummer boy
    hands departed long ago
    silent flow of tears

    empty paper
    frozen river stream
    snowflakes of words scattered

    damped bed pillow
    empty room
    shadow dance
    broken toy

    old cabinet drawer
    dead butterflies
    mothers silent kiss remembered
    a crow is heard from a tree

    Please contact me at:

    Roy Lindquist

  35. Dear Roy-san!
    Nice to hear from you again after a long absence.
    I wish you would write haiku again, sharing them with each other.
    Hidenori Hiruta

  36. I write poetry on WordPress and have been attempting these shorter forms on Twitter. I appreciate the definitions and information on current practices provided here. This is an excellent resource – thank you.

  37. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you will be a great
    author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and may come back later in life.
    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great writing, have a nice

  38. கவிச்சுடர் கா.ந. கல்யாணசுந்தரம் says:

    My enquiries to Hiruta Sir. Best Wishes

  39. Dear Hidenori Hiruta Sama: I tried to write you, but the email address provided does not work, could you please write and give me a valid one? Thank you! -Xiaoou

  40. Hello Hiruta,
    I’m happy to have found this site and enjoy the opportunity to learn more. I began writing haiku three years ago and find it a relaxing exercise. More than that though, it brings peace and wonder in the way the poet frames first the thought, then constructs it in a way to express the most sense in the fewest words. I tend to be wordy in my writing so haiku forces me to be brief.
    How do I share my haiku on the HST network?
    Will Pennington
    Saint Leonard, Maryland

  41. Dear Will Pennington,
    Thank you very much for your email and your thoughts.
    We would like to share your works with our friends on the website in the near future..
    Please send ten pieces of your haiku, your brief bio, and some photos if possible by email.
    The address is : shhiruta@nifty.com
    Best wishes,
    Hidenori Hiruta
    Akita International Haiku Network

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