Bashō's haiku in Japanese and English by L.P. Lovee (1)



Inspired by the book titled “575 The Haiku of Basho”, I will translate 300 HAIKUs of Bashō under the pen-name of L. P. Lovee.


In the introduction of the book, Mr. John White (Ex-professor of UCL) mentioned as follows:

“In all the translations that follow in this particular selection of Basho’s haiku, the 5-7-5 format is strictly adhered to, and whenever Basho does see fit to add or subtract a sound unit or two in a given line, the syllabic structure of the resulting English haiku meticulously follows the same pattern.”


Although I appreciate the efforts of Mr. White, I am afraid that such efforts are not always successful for representing Basho’s haiku.

The reason is because all of Japanese words can be expressed with letters "kana" ("ひらかな” or "カタカナ") each of which has a vowel, whereas all of English words consist of letters having a vowel or a consonant. Moreover, among Japanese words, there are many homonyms, differences of which can be expresed with "kanji", that is, "漢字”. 

For example, you will find interesting aspects of such differences by reading "Farewell haiku of Ransetsu" (

or "Let's enjoy haiku" ( 


Thus, in most cases, the Japanese 5-7-5 norm is not equivalent to the English norm of 5-7-5 syllables. If you adhere to the 5-7-5 syllable, the English haiku tends to lack brevity and “kire” (i.e., pause or discontinuation), which are essential factors in Japanese haiku. A haiku having a "kire" allows its reader to have an instant imagination for what will follow the kire, or what is unsaid in the haiku. 


There are many English translations made by non-Japanese speakers, some of them are well done, but the language barriers prevent them from representing fascinating aspects of Bashō's haiku. In this site, I will attempt to break such language barriers as a native Japanese speaker. 


For the convenience of readers to evaluate, I will describe my translations of Bashō's haiku by putting the reference number of each corresponding haiku of "575 The Haiku of Bashō" as follows.




  horohoroto yamabukichiruka takinooto


  shall yellow rose petals

  flutter down?

  the thunder of water fall




  kirishigure fujiominuhizo omoshiroki  


  showery mists

  hiding Mt. Fuji today_





    yamajikite naniyarayukashi sumiregusa 


     coming through a mountain path,

     somehow graceful_





 nagakihio saezuritaranu hibarikana


    the so-called long-day

   insufficient to fully sing_





  nabatakeni hanamigaonaru suzumekana


   a plot of rape field,

   with a look of flower viewing

   a sparrow




  iwatsutsuji somuru namidaya hototogisu


   the rock azalea

   dyed with the tears of

   a cuckoo   




   harunareya namonakiyamano asagasumi


    the spring, now_

    on the unnamed mountain

    morning mists




  mumegakani nottohinoderu yamajikana


   amid the scent of plum blossoms

   suddenly emerges the sun_

   this mountain path




 samidareni kakurenumonoya setanohashi


   in the rain of rainy season

   what remains in sight_

   the Seta Bridge




  kazefukeba obosounaruya inuzakura


   when the wind blows,

   their tails dwindle_

   dog-cherry trees



Click the following URL to see
"Bashō's haiku in Japanese and English by L. P. Lovee":

(Satoshi Kinoshita)

See: “Bashō's haiku in Japanese and English by L.P. Lovee (11) ~ (20)”

If you understand the Japanese language,
please read the Japanese version of this site
so that you may appreciate Bashō’s haiku more deeply.