Inside: 11 examples of Japanese poems of 5 lines that are short and sweet to enjoy.
A lot of traditional poetry and forms of poetry come from other cultures outside of the English-speaking language. Other countries and cultures, utilize writing in creative scheming, wording, and formats in ways that we haven’t yet thought of until we began to read other cultures work. The Japanese culture has adopted several forms of short form, poetry writing, an art form in which takes extra care, creativity, and dynamic word choice in order to create a well flowing poem.
Some of these many of these Japanese poems of five lines comes with different rules and regulations when writing them, but the five lines is a very common thread among all Japanese poetry.
As you start to dive into Japanese poetry, you’re going to find this common among all of them, but all of them are produced a little differently. Not only does this become common among Japanese poetry, but also in Japanese words, games, puzzles, etc.
While haiku is consistent with three lines instead of five, this is a really good example of common poetry that exists in our culture and our world that we see often among poetry that comes from Japanese culture.
In American and western culture, much of what we use, see, and experience comes from other cultures. It’s not uncommon that things that we think are just classic American elements are actually adopted from other cultures and countries. Poetry, writing, and art are some of the largest examples of this, we often see art, reflecting life in other cultures and countries. It gives us insight to life in other parts of the world, and it shows us different and new ways to create art.
Dive into some of these different types of Japanese poetry of five lines.
Another form of short poetry is acrostic. This isn’t from Japanese culture, but it’s a casual and creative way to write poetry easily. It’s a simple exercise to start your writing. Here are some examples!
Different Kinds Of Japanese Poems Of 5 Lines
There are a couple of different formats of five line Japanese poetry that you may be familiar with.
The first one may surprise you, but it’s a haiku! A haiku, as we know it in American culture, consists of three lines where the first and third lines use three syllables, and the middle line uses five. However, in Japanese culture haiku is written with five lines. This switch has changed due to translation details, sometimes a Japanese haiku would be translated into English, and it would be a fair amount shorter so the American version became three lines where the Japanese version is five lines.
Tonka is the other one that is the most common form of genuine, five line poetry from Japanese culture. In Japan, it’s really truly simple. It’s just 31 syllables. They don’t run this looking at five lines, but when translated into American English, it turns out to be five lines.
A lot of this comes from translation differences, but these are both forms of Japanese poetry that have to do with five lines or so.
You have probably read so many of these two different styles of poems without realizing how much of it has come from other cultures.
Even as those in western cultures adopt and begin to write these styles on their own, they still follow the Americanized version of the Japanese rules of writing them, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Tanka, again, is poetry written to be strictly 31 syllables which has been translated into English to be 5 lines of poetry.
Being this succinct and exact with your verbiage and written poetry is a real skill, one that Japanese poets have worked on to near perfection.
1. Lying On The Dune Sand Poem
Lying on the dune sand
this day I recall
the anguish of my first love.
2. About A Place
New York is brimming
With people who are thinking
About the city
That gives them a lease on life
But takes as much as it gives.
Cherry, cherry cherry trees begin to bloom,
and bloom is over —
In the park where nothing (it seems) ever happened.
By Machi Tawara
We all worked on haikus in school learning to write poetry and have likely read many even now as we dig through different poetry styles. They’re short and sweet, and honestly create enough of a vague picture of a scene that it opens up the reader’s imagination.
4. The Wren
Earns his living
By Kobayashi Issa
Is full of regret.
By Yosa Buson
6. Over The Wintry
Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.
By Natsume Sōseki
First autumn morning
the mirror I stare into
shows my father’s face.
By Murakami Kijo
out of the way, out of the way!
the stallion’s coming through
By Kobayashi Issa
Japanese Poetry Styles
9. The Old Pond
a frog jumps in
By Matsuo Bashō
Too dark to read the page
By Jack Kerouac
11. Home on the range
rodents seek my gifts
searching yonder free meals
happy to oblige
all manner of life appears
what a fool relieves
By Dan Collins
If you’re interested in learning more about other cultures, art is the best way to do so. It opens a window to seeing what life is like there, reading about it, or seeing it through pictures and paintings, and it really opens your world up. Not only experiencing art from other cultures, but learning about how they produce it and learning to re-create it in your own world is a great way to channel new cultures and new experiences.
The world is so wide, and there’s so much to learn about other people in other places that I think it’s so fun to learn more about Japanese poetry, since it has so greatly impacted our own.
If you’d like to write and read short and sweet poetry, Japanese culture has seriously delivered for you!
Hopefully you found some fun in reading these Japanese poems of five lines, and I’ve had fun learning about a little bit of another culture and the way they write poetry.