Some of Master Masaoka Shiki’s haiku

Horyuji Temple – South Gate – m-louis .® from Osaka, Japan, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Despite being ill for much of his life, Shiki wrote more than 24,000 haiku in his short lifetime. Many are archived on the Shiki Museum website. As some readers will already be aware, Shiki’s favourite fruit was persimmon and he wrote quite a few haiku about them. It is said that due to health issues he may not have been able to enjoy persimmons as much as he would have liked and for this reason they would often find themselves in Shiki’s haiku musings.

There are many different translations of the first verse so to avoid copyright issues, the first one is our version. You might enjoy reading this article on the World Haiku Review as it delves into the complications of haiku translation and offers an array of translations, thoughts on his trip to the ancient Horyuji Temple and this special haiku. Any suggestions on the translations would be appreciated. *

Note: these poems are written in one line so you may need to turn your screen or switch to desktop to view them in a one-line format. Also, keep checking back in because there are more coming!


eating a persimmon on the bell's ring - Horyuji temple

Here is another persimmon haiku:


persimmons - and a red-beaked bird is coming


the temple’s incense holder - a tangerine

* location could be the southern hall at Kofuku Temple in Nara

Shiki also loved apples:


mid-night - I take an apple and write a story


if only I could die eating apples in front of the peonies


plum blossoms - still visible from the bonfire


fragrant breeze - one temple amongst countless mountains


old pond - a cicada shell floats upon its surface

Shiki also liked to observe spiders:


in the corner of an old wall - a still and hungry spider


a dispersing crowd - like scattered spiderlings


autumn spider - hiding behind a sheathed sword


acestral spears, long swords and a pregnant spider


spiderlings - don't scatter them or pandemonium