Who Established Haiku In 17th Century?

by Amy

Haiku, a form of Japanese poetry renowned for its brevity and profound imagery, has a rich history dating back to the 17th century. This article delves into the origins of haiku, exploring the key figures who established and shaped this poetic tradition during the Edo period in Japan.

Historical Context: Edo Period and the Birth of Haiku

The Edo period (1603-1868) marked a significant era in Japanese history characterized by peace, prosperity, and cultural flourishing. It was during this time that haiku emerged as a distinct form of poetry, evolving from earlier poetic traditions such as renga and haikai no renga.

Matsuo Bashō: The Master of Haiku

One of the most influential figures in the establishment of haiku as an independent art form was Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694). Born in Ueno, in present-day Iga Province, Bashō’s contributions to haiku are unparalleled, earning him the title of the “master of haiku.”

Bashō’s approach to haiku was deeply rooted in Zen Buddhism and his observations of nature. His famous travelogue, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” (Oku no Hosomichi), exemplifies his poetic journey and profound insights into life, impermanence, and the natural world. Through his minimalist verses, Bashō captured moments of beauty and transcendence, influencing generations of haiku poets to come.

The Haikai Poets: Collaborative Origins

Before Bashō’s time, haiku-like poems were often composed as part of collaborative linked verse known as renga or haikai no renga. Haikai poets, including masters like Matsunaga Teitoku (1571-1653) and Nishiyama Sōin (1605-1682), played a crucial role in the development of haiku by experimenting with shorter, more independent verses within the larger collaborative framework.

Teitoku, a renowned poet and scholar, contributed to the refinement of haikai poetry, paving the way for the emergence of haiku as a standalone art form. His emphasis on spontaneity, wit, and everyday language resonated with later haiku poets seeking to express the essence of a moment in just a few words.

Issa and Buson: Diverse Expressions in Haiku

Following Bashō’s era, other notable haiku poets emerged, each bringing their unique style and thematic focus to the art form. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) and Yosa Buson (1716-1783) are two such poets who left a lasting impact on haiku with their distinct voices.

Issa, known for his empathy toward all living beings, infused his haiku with a deep sense of compassion and humanity. His poems often explore themes of suffering, resilience, and the interconnectedness of life, showcasing a more personal and introspective aspect of haiku poetry.

Buson, on the other hand, was a master of visual imagery, painting vivid scenes with his words. His background as a painter influenced his haiku, which are celebrated for their evocative descriptions of nature and keen attention to sensory details. Buson’s haiku often blur the boundaries between the visual and the verbal, inviting readers to immerse themselves in the landscapes he creates.

Evolution and Modern Influences

As haiku continued to evolve, it transcended geographical boundaries and found resonance beyond Japan. In the 20th century, haiku gained popularity worldwide, with poets from diverse cultural backgrounds adopting and adapting its principles.

Influential haiku poets such as Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), who advocated for haiku as an independent literary form, and modern masters like Kobayashi Hideo (1902-1983) and Takahama Kyoshi (1874-1959) contributed to the modernization and global spread of haiku. Their efforts in refining haiku techniques and promoting its accessibility further cemented its position as a cherished poetic tradition.


The establishment of haiku in the 17th century was a pivotal moment in the history of Japanese literature, marked by the contributions of visionary poets like Matsuo Bashō, Matsunaga Teitoku, Kobayashi Issa, and Yosa Buson. Through their creativity and insights, they transformed haiku from a collaborative verse form to a standalone expression of profound beauty and contemplation. Today, haiku continues to inspire poets and readers worldwide, embodying the timeless essence of fleeting moments captured in verse.


Who are the British haiku poets?

The British haiku poetry scene has seen the emergence of several talented poets who have contributed significantly to the genre. Some notable British haiku poets include:

1. Alan Summers: A respected haiku poet, editor, and educator, Alan Summers has been actively involved in promoting haiku and related forms of poetry in the UK. His works often reflect a deep appreciation for nature and the fleeting moments of life.

2. John Barlow: An accomplished haiku poet and editor, John Barlow’s haiku are known for their simplicity, clarity, and profound insights into human experience and the natural world.

3. David Cobb: Another prominent figure in British haiku poetry, David Cobb’s poems exhibit a keen awareness of seasonal changes, traditional Japanese aesthetics, and the essence of haiku as a form of mindfulness.

4. Marion Clarke: Marion Clarke’s haiku are characterized by their evocative imagery, emotional depth, and skillful use of language to capture moments of beauty and introspection.

5. Matthew Paul: Matthew Paul’s haiku often explore themes of urban life, contemporary culture, and the intersection of the human and natural worlds, offering a fresh perspective on traditional haiku themes.

Who is the famous poet of modern haiku?

As for the famous poet of modern haiku, one name that stands out is Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828). Issa, a Japanese poet from the Edo period, is renowned for his empathetic and humanistic approach to haiku. His poems often delve into themes of suffering, resilience, and the interconnectedness of all living beings, making him a beloved figure in the world of haiku poetry.

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