Kobayashi Issa was one of Japan's most prolific poets (learn more). He left in his journals over twenty thousand one-breath poems—then called haikai but today known as haiku. This website presents over 12,000 of Issa's haiku in a searchable archive.
This has been a labor of love begun over forty years ago. There are, of course, mistakes, but when visitors to the archive inform me of them, I correct them immediately—and learn a bit more about the intricacies of Edo period Japanese. If you spot an error, please don't hesitate to contact me (see my email address at the bottom of this page).
Search the Archive
More search options available with the Advanced Search. Search for keywords in the English translation, the rômaji transcription, or in the comments.
Random haiku Don't have time to read 12,000+ poems by Issa at this moment? How about just one?.
Renku is the mother of haiku. When Issa wrote his verses that today we call "haiku," he conceived them to be potential opening lines for the communal ritual of renku. Find out more...
Daily Issa See a random haiku by Issa every day on Twitter: @issa_haiku
My Books about Issa
...sales of which help pay for the continued commercial-free hosting of this website.
Write like Issa: a Haiku How-to offers six lessons on how to write haiku based on examples from Issa and from 21st-century poets who are following his creative path. Available in paperback and as an e-book.
Issa and the Meaning of Animals explores Issa's poetic vision of animals as fellow travelers in a shared world. Available in paperback and as an e-book.
Issa and Being Human: Haiku Portraits of Early Modern Japan explores Issa's poetic answer to the question, What does it mean to "be born human"? Available as paperback and as an e-book.
Issa's Best: A Translator's Selection of Master Haiku presents over 1,200 evocative and inspiring haiku arranged in seasonal order—including an introduction to Issa's life and poetry. Available in paperback and as an e-book.
A Taste of Issa: Haiku takes a deeper look at the 1,200+ haiku presented in Issa's Best with the addition of original Japanese texts and comment notes. Available in paperback and as an e-book.
Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa looks at Issa's haiku in the context of Pure Land Buddhism. The revised second edition is available as a paperback and as an e-book.
Daily Issa:To see and contemplate a haiku by Issa every day, follow @issa_haiku on Twitter.
The Painted Kobayashi Issa is Mark W. McGinnis's gorgeous full-color book of paintings inspired by 100 of Issa's haiku. Available at Amazon.com.
About this website The Kobayashi Issa website was launched in May, 2000. It was created at Xavier University of Louisiana as a rich media project sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
Translations based on Issa zenshû (Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79) 9 volumes. Some of the translations first appeared in Issa, Cup-of-Tea Poems, The Distant Mountain: The Life and Haiku of Kobayashi Issa, and Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa.
Web design/search engines by Bryan Godfrey-Lanoue and Bart Everson. All translations © 1991-2023 by David G. Lanoue, rights reserved.