The Japanese Sense of Aesthetics

The word Haiku reminds me of millions of awful micro poetic compositions that pass for as haikus in the blogosphere. The other day I came across a couple of such alleged haikus. I don’t remember the wordings but one was about the miserable office wage and another was about the boss who was an asshole.

Come on dear aspiring poet. Any micro poem is not a haiku even if it fulfills the condition of being of seventeen syllables.  According to the Wikipedia page about English Haiku, the first element of a haiku is –  ‘A focus on some aspect of nature or the seasons’. Maybe, our aspiring poet, being a Chetan Bhagat and Ekta Kapoor devotee, interpreted ‘nature’ as human nature and ‘season’ as a series of episodes in the office soap opera.

In addition to being of seventeen syllables and focusing on some aspects of nature or season, the haikus of prominent Japanese poets like Basho evoke the sublime in you due to their meditative, contemplative, and philosophical allusions even though they may describe very ordinary events. Here are a few of my favourite  haikus (translated from the original Japanese)

Since my house
burned down, I now own
a better view
of the rising moon

Enviable leaves
becoming so beautiful
just before falling

Scarecrows are the first 
heroes to fall
in the rush
of the Autumn wind

What a pretty kite
the beggar's children 
fly high
above their hovel

He is unknown 
the poet who sings 
the greatest 
of all songs -- spring

Haiku and spring remind me of the Cherry Blossoms that flower in their fullness in Spring and are inspiration for a million haikus so much so that the word flower has become synonymous with Cherry Blossom for the Japanese.

The other day I was watching a program on NHK (the official TV channnel of Japan) about Cherry Blossoms. Its flowering during the spring season is the most celebrated national event in Japan.  No other country celebrates a natural phenomenon with such religious fervour.

I am yet to visit Japan. But my love affair with the country goes back to childhood days when Radio Japan was one of the  staple diets (along with Binaca Geetmala)  to ward off boredom during those long summer vacations.  Of course, I don’t remember any of the contents now, but I do vaguely remember the feel good effect.

Among Asian nations, Japan is not only the most innovative country as far as technology is concerned, it is also a nation with the most developed sense of aesthetics. I will cover more of my aesthetic impressions about Japan in my coming posts.

Meanwhile, you may think of spending the idle hours of your weekend with my book which is available for free download till 3rd December.


13 thoughts on “The Japanese Sense of Aesthetics

  1. Your gentle reminder to the haiku-smiths of the blogosphere is as refreshing as the Cherry Blossom season.

    I rarely plant a link to in my comments to my own posts but the occasion prods me to nudge you into checking out my floundering with the format: An Open Puzzle to Haiku Writers

    I gobbled up ‘To Please or Not to Please’ and ‘Misunderstood’ before I nodded off…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are right.Many so called ‘Haikus’ that come out these days do not fit the bill. I think if they did not claim it to be Haiku, it would be a good enjoyable read as short poems can be really powerful and likelt to be read more, given the time starved people these days.
    By the way, thank you so much for the translations of your favourite Haikus which are indeed a pleasure to read!
    Congrats also on your book DP! I am downloading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The sense of aesthetics is undoubtedly higher among the Japanese. To them, even drinking tea is an art and to be followed by certain rituals. I’m an ardent fan of a few Japanese writers, Murakami, Higashino and Kenzaburo Oe. My son loves to watch the animes and with him, I watch them too 😀 They are quite good…

    As for the haiku part, it has lost its classical interpretation these days. People keep on writing haiku on any subject. Not only classical haiku contains strictly 17 syllables ( the modern ones have more or less), but it’s important to have a “cutting” word (kireji).That is, a specific thought depicted in the first two lines is juxtaposed or ‘cut’ by some other. This ‘cutting’ needs to be coherent and must build symmetry of thoughts as a whole.

    I know some poets who compose excellent haiku poems. I love reading their creations…. 🙂

    Congratulations on publishing your first book…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you that the form has undergone a lot of change over the years. I doubt that even the Japanese are writing haikus sticking to the traditional format.
      Thanks for your wishes and for stopping by.


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