Haibun (Template:Lang-ja) is a literary composition that combines prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and includes, but is not limited to, the following forms of prose: autobiography, biography, diary, essay, history, prose poem, short story and travel literature.


The 17th century Japanese poet, Matsuo Bashō, was one prominent early writer of haibun. He wrote some haibun as travel accounts during his various journeys, the most famous of which is Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Interior). Bashō’s shorter haibun include compositions devoted to travel and others focusing on character sketches, landscape scenes, anecdotal vignettes and occasional writings written to honor a specific patron or event. His Hut of the Phantom Dwelling can be classified as an essay while, in Saga Nikki (Saga Diary), he documents the day-to-day activities of his disciples and himself on a summer retreat.

A haibun may record a scene, or a special moment, in a highly descriptive and objective manner or may occupy a wholly fictional or dream-like space. The accompanying haiku may have a direct or subtle relationship with the prose and encompass or hint at the gist of what is recorded in the prose sections.

Haibun in EnglishEdit

Several distinct schools of English haibun have been described,[1] including Reportage narrative mode such as Robert Wilson's 'Vietnam Ruminations', Haibunic prose, and the Templum effect.

The first contest for English-language haibun took place in 1996,[2] organized by Michael Dylan Welch, and judged by Tom Lynch and Cor van den Heuvel. Anita Virgil won first prize, and David Cobb won second prize. The contest resulted in the publication of Wedge of Light (Press Here) in 1999. The first anthology of English-language haibun was Bruce Ross's Journey to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun (Tuttle), published in 1998.

Contemporary practice of haibun composition in English is evolving rapidly.[3] Generally, a haibun consists of one or more paragraphs of prose written in a concise, imagistic haikai style, and one or more haiku.

Modern English-language haibun writers of note include David Cobb, Jeffrey Harpeng, Ken Jones, Jim Kacian, Bruce Ross, Mark Nowak, Michael McClintock, Paul Conneally, Stanley Pelter, William Ramsey, Jeffrey Woodward and Ray Rasmussen.

See alsoEdit


  1. Haibun and Realism I:Some Thoughts upon the Developing Schools of Haibun - Jamie Edgecombe in Blithe Spirit (Journal of the British Haiku Society) Vol 16 No.1, March 2006]
  2. Wedge of Light. Tom Lynch, Cor van den Heuvel, and Michael Dylan Welch, editors. Foster City, California: Press Here, 1999.
  3. Haibun Defined: Anthology of Haibun Definitions, quotations from various authors on Jeffrey Woodward's "Haibun Today" blog. Accessed 2008-12-19

External links Edit

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