Credit Ko Sasaki for The New York Times
Welcome to the world of the haiku bar trail. Matsuyama, Japan, is celebrating its 19th-century haiku poet, Masaoka Shiki, who coined the term haiku, with related events.
In Shikoku dialect, Hoyaken means “but anyway,” and there at the bar, chopsticks rested on a perfectly still peanut shell, while sake and literary conversation flowed. The bar’s owners, husband and wife Tomoko and Satoshi Kadoya, talked to me about their favorite poets, both Japanese and American. But haiku was never far from their minds.
Hoyaken is stocked with magazines and bilingual glossaries of “kigo,” haiku words used to connote the season like cicada for summer, scarecrow for autumn and the winter-blooming camellia. It is an ideal setting to write these 17-syllable seasonal poems using the classic 5-7-5 syllable stanzas or to drop the syllable form altogether and go freestyle as most haiku enthusiasts do these days.
Welcome to the haiku bar trail.
Matsuyama, Shikoku’s biggest and liveliest city is known for its 19th-century haiku poet, Masaoka Shiki, one of Japan’s four haiku masters. Shiki coined the term haiku.
This year, to celebrate Shiki’s 150th birthday, the city launched a program of haiku-related events, including a recent haiku photo contest, a haiku sensory trail where you can experience the hourly chimes and dancing figurines of the Botchan Karakuri wind-up clock or the scent of incense at Ishite-Ji temple, and the haiku bar trail, where you can hone your haiku techniques while nursing a boozy concoction inspired by your own verse.
“New Orleans has its jazz bars, so Matsuyama should have haiku bars,” he said in terms as simple as a haiku itself.