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Haikai (Japanese 俳諧 comic, unorthodox) is a poetic genre that includes a number of forms which embrace the aesthetics of haikai no renga, and what Bashō referred to as the "poetic spirit" (fūga), including haiku, renku (haikai no renga), haibun, haiga and senryūHigginson, William J. The Haiku Seasons, Kodansha International, 1996, ISBN 4-7700-1629-8, p.9 (though not orthodox renga, tanka or waka).

"Haikai" is sometimes used as an abbreviation for "haikai no renga".

Bashō and haikai

Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) is one of the most famous poets of the Edo period. For Bashō, haikai involved a combination of comic playfulness and spiritual depth, ascetic practice and involvement in human society.Barnhill, David Landis. Bashō's Haiku: Selected Poems by Matsuo Bashō, Suny Press, 2004, ISBN 0791461653, p.279

Bashō’s haikai treated of the ordinary, everyday lives of commoners. In contrast to traditional Japanese poetry, he portrayed figures from popular culture such as the beggar, the traveller and the farmer. In crystallising the newly popular haikai he played a significant role in giving birth to modern haiku, which reflected the common culture.


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