Inspiration for Writing Haiku

The brevity and structure of haiku are powerful enough to evoke emotion and inspire readers.  An important element of haiku is the subject and the imagery used to convey an idea or thought.  When writing haiku, it is essential to conjure up an idea to express. Inspiration for writing haiku can look towards many sources of  ideas and thoughts.

The Seasons

Although not all haiku are focused on nature, the vast majority incorporate the four seasons and the imagery that relates to these seasons. In fact, traditional Japanese haiku reference the seasons to produce certain feelings and emotions.  You can use plants, animals and other aspects of a season that symbolize ideas about it.  Winter, for example, is associated with coldness which can help convey a message about being cold and alone.  Summer, on the other hand, can be referenced to convey feelings of love and warmth.  Colors are also effective elements to use to reference the seasons and produce emotion.

Daily Observances

Daily observances are commonly found in many traditional Japanese haiku.  The same can be applied to modern-day haiku writing.  One can look into his or her own daily life and use images that ultimately express thoughts or relate to the reader.  You can take daily observances to the next level and provide a glimpse into humanity or society.

Human Activity

Writers can gain inspiration from human activity, which is often a momentary event.  A small gesture, movement or activity of a group or an individual can provide imagery and a thoughtful message.  References to the seasons can also contain human activities and this helps maintain the traditional aspect of haiku writing.

The Five Senses

Generally speaking, haiku are often based on the five senses which allow the reader to experience what the haiku is depicting.  Haiku are about producing emotion and thoughts through the senses.


Writers who want to adhere to the traditional Japanese idea of Kireji, or cutting word, can gain inspiration from juxtapositions and opposing ideas.  With kireji, you bring together two different images and create a relationship, contrast or comparison between them. Some connections can be too obvious, while others are quite obscure.

The underlying goal of haiku is to evoke emotion in the reader through the use of imagery and specific words.  For this reason, it is important for poets to look to the outside world and everyday occurrences in order to achieve the perfect image for a certain emotion.

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