Haiku Poetry About Japan's Cherry Blossoms

Sakura branch | © Jeff Kubina/Flickr
Sakura branch | © Jeff Kubina/Flickr
Photo of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer16 April 2017

The Japanese cherry blossoms and the tradition of flower gazing, or hanami, has inspired poets for centuries. These haiku call to mind the beauty of springtime and the fleeting beauty of the sakura.

Kobayashi Issa

Issa is one of the four haiku greats of Japan. He wrote a tremendous amount of poetry and was known for his poetic appreciation for even the tiniest creatures.

cherry blossoms scatter–
snap! the buck’s antlers
come off

without regret
they fall and scatter…
cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms
fall! fall!
enough to fill my belly

cherry trees in bloom–
warmed by a brazier

Translations by Haiku Guy.

Cherry blossoms in bloom | © mrhayata/Flickr

Basho Matsuo

Basho is the most famous poet of the Edo Era, and now the most well-known haiku poet of all time.

A cloud of cherry blossoms;
The temple bell,-
Is it Ueno, is it Asakusa?

How many, many things
They call to mind
These cherry-blossoms!

Very brief –
Gleam of blossoms in the treetops
On a moonlit night.

A lovely spring night
suddenly vanished while we
viewed cherry blossoms

Sakura at Kan'eji Temple in Ueno | © Takashi .M/Flickr

Masaoka Shiki

Shiki is another of Japan’s Four Greats in the world of haiku. He lived later than the others and was active during the late 1800s.

The cherry blossoms:
Being ill, how many things
I remember about them

Scatter layer
by layer, eight-layered
cherry blossoms

Moon at twilight
a cluster of petals falling
from the cherry tree

cherry blossom petals
blown by the spring breeze against
the undried wall

Cherry blossoms on Mount Mitake | © アラツク/WikiCommons (Aratsuku)

Yosa Buson

Buson greatly admired Basho and even embarked on his own literary pilgrimage, tracing Basho’s footsteps as recorded in Basho’s diary The Narrow Road to the Interior.

Drinking up the clouds
it spews out cherry blossoms –
Yoshino Mountain.

Wind blows
they scatter and it dies
fallen petals

Petals falling
unable to resist
the moonlight

Sakura, sakura
they fall in the dreams
of sleeping beauty

Sakura trees in spring | © Kou Art/Flickr

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