- Haiku (called haikai until the Meiji era) is a simplified lyric form derived from traditional tanka poetry consisting of 17 syllables in the pattern 5–7–5. During the Tokugawa period, haiku emerged under the guidance and genius of Matsuo Basho (1644–94) and was further reformed by the poets Yosa Buson (1716–84) and Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827). During the Meiji period, poet Masaoka Shiki strongly criticized Basho, objecting to the gamelike point system haiku schools used to grade student compositions and the lack of masculine sophistication in Basho’s work. Conversely, Masaoka held the highest praise for Buson’s poetry and predicted the demise of haiku due to its lack of innovation. Despite Shiki’s pessimism, however, both his contemporaries, such as Natsume Soseki, and subsequent poets, such as Taneda Santoka (1882–1940) and Kato Shuson (1905–93), pursued the art, and today haiku clubs and circles regularly publish their poems in literary journals and newspapers.See also FREE VERSE; KUME MASAO; MIKI ROFU; NAKAMURA TEIJO; TSUJI KUNIO.
Historical dictionary of modern Japanese literature and theater. J. Scott Miller. 2009.