Shikishi Haiku

Part of the American Haiku Archives official collection, located at the California State Library; Originally translated by Hiroaki Sato in 1978.

By California State Library

A collection of 24 Shikishi Haiku

In Japan, haiku are traditionally written on tanzaku (vertical poem strips) and shikishi (square poem cards). These works of art show each poet’s poem and calligraphy, and are sometimes given as gifts. The papers are elaborate and colorful.

Two dozen leading Japanese haiku poets created this exhibit’s shikishi. They are among the most prominent haiku writers of the 20th century. Some of their haiku are easy to understand, but some are mysterious, even surreal.

These shikishi were given to the Haiku Society of America in New York City to celebrate the society’s 10th anniversary in 1978. They are part of the American Haiku Archives official collection located at the California State Library and were originally translated by Hiroaki Sato in 1978.

Homemade Sake by Akao TōshiCalifornia State Library

Homemade Sake

Homemade sake of Sasanami Country – I’m already tipsy  -Akao Tōshi

Pampas Grass by Awano SeihoCalifornia State Library

Pampas Grass

For today’s moon I’ve arranged long pampas grass   -Awano Seiho

Selling Lamps by Azumi AtsushiCalifornia State Library

Selling Lamps

Selling lamps, with one lamp lit in the mist  -Azumi Atsushi

Keeper of the Spring by Hirahata SeitōCalifornia State Library

Keeper of the Spring

Building a fire, standing beautifully: keeper of the spring  -Hirahata Seitō

Lonesome by Hoshino TatsukoCalifornia State Library


More lonesome at day break than at dusk: bell-cricket  -Hoshino Tatsuko

Peach Blossoms by Hosomi AyakoCalifornia State Library

Peach Blossoms

In daily clothes, a daily mind: peach blossoms   -Hosomi Ayako

Infant Sleeping by Iida RyūtaCalifornia State Library

Infant Sleeping

An infant asleep raising water like a rose  -Iida Ryūta

The Atomic Bomb by Ishihara YatsukaCalifornia State Library

The Atomic Bomb

The atomic bomb site: a child fades away in heat haze

-Ishihara Yatsuka

Plum In Bloom by Kaneko TōhtaCalifornia State Library

Plum in Bloom

Plum in bloom, and all over the garden blue sharks are visiting  -Kaneko Tōhta

Mouths Open by Katō ShūsonCalifornia State Library

Mouths Open

In an atomic bomb picture mouths open, I too open my mouth: cold -Katō Shūson 

Mt. Mikasa by Minayoshi SōuCalifornia State Library

Deer on Mt. Mikasa

Not so much spring rain clouds as the deer on Mt. Mikasa  -Minayoshi Sōu

Rosy Dusk by Mizuhara ShūōshiCalifornia State Library

Rosy Dusk

The moon appears and the rosy dusk continues  -Mizuhara Shūōshi 

Snow Falling by Mori SumioCalifornia State Library

Snow Falling

Snow starts falling and goes on falling on mountain camellias  -Mori Sumio

World of Dreams by Nagata KōiCalifornia State Library

World of Dreams

In a world of dreams I grew scallions: how desolate   -Nagata Kōi

Child's Teeth by Nakamura KusataoCalifornia State Library

Child's Teeth

Amid myriad green leaves my child’s teeth begin to grow

-Nakamura Kusatao

Spring Moon by Nakamura TeijoCalifornia State Library

Spring Moon

Come outside, too! You can almost touch the spring moon

-Nakamura Teijo

Koto Ceases by Nozawa SetsukoCalifornia State Library

The Koto Ceases

At spring noon, fingers come to a stop and the koto ceases   -Nozawa Setsuko

Fireworks by Ōno RinkaCalifornia State Library


Even in sleep the fireworks during the trip open in my heart  -Ōno  Rinka

Two Towers by Sawaki Kin'ichiCalifornia State Library

Two Towers

Two towers, like cockscombs withered and standing   -Sawaki Kin’ichi

Fresh Green by Takaha ShugyōCalifornia State Library

Fresh Green

Fresh green seen from the skyscraper – a garnish of parsley -Takaha Shugyō

Father's Offshore by Takayanagi ShigenobuCalifornia State Library

Father's Offshore

Father’s offshore. Once a day the sun sets offshore

-Takayanagi Shigenobu

New Year’s Day by Tomiyasu FūseiCalifornia State Library

New Year's Day

Huge was Mt. Fuji at the water’s edge New Year’s Day -Tomiyasu Fūsei

Out To The Sea by Yamaguchi SeishiCalifornia State Library

Out to the Sea

Out to the sea, the tree-searing wind has no place to return  -Yamaguchi Seishi

Wet With Rouge by Yamaguchi SeisonCalifornia State Library

Wet With Rouge

The doll’s lips wet with rouge for how many generations  -Yamaguchi Seison

Credits: Story

Presented by the California State Library with assistance from the American Haiku Archives.

Credits: All media
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