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 10,000 of Issa's haiku in a searchable archive. Enjoy...
Search tips Delete the words "erase this; type keyword" in the box. To look for haiku containing a single keyword, type it into the box and hit "Search." To search for multiple keywords in a haiku, enter them in the box separated by commas and without spaces (example: frog,croaking). Note that searches are case-sensitive (type "Buddha", not "buddha"). Use the "Year" drop-down menu to limit your results to a particular year.
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 10,000 poems by Issa at this moment? How about just one?
Issa's Best If you read e-books, treat yourself to Issa's Best: A Translator's Selection of Master Haiku (2012). I filled it with 1,210 of my favorite poems from my online archive of 10,000. These most exquisite, evocative and inspiring haiku are arranged in seasonal order from New Year's Day to the year's end. The book also includes an introduction to Issa's life and poetry. Available for Kindle and Nook. I am hoping that sales of this book will help pay for the continued commercial-free hosting of this website.
Hard Copy Books about Issa Although my first book about Issa, Issa, Cup-of-Tea Poems (1991), is out of print, these two can still be found: The Distant Mountain: The Life and Haiku of Kobayashi Issa (2009) and Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa (2004). For a nice collection of his best haiku, order a print-on-demand paperback version of my e-book (described above): Issa's Best
|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.|
Daily Issa Subscribe to the DailyIssa Yahoo Group to have one randomly selected haiku sent to your e-mail box every day. Or, if you only want to see the English translation (without the Japanese texts and comments), follow @issa_haiku on Twitter.
For young learners, see Haiku with Issa—an introduction to Issa's haiku and Japan.
Issa paintings by Mark W. McGinnis. See the haiku-inspired paintings of this amazing artist.
Listen to Japanese Keiko Higuchi-Vayman reads 9 haiku by Issa.
Fun with Issa Pick a random number to get inspired!
Books containing translations of Issa taken from this archive include Issa 108 by Mark W. McGinnis, The Painted Kobayashi Issa also by McGinnis (described above on this page), Morning Song by Susan Todd and Carol Purington, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, and Red Rock Yellow Stone by Edwin Firmage.
Poets on Issa What do poets from around the world think of Issa and his contribution to the art of haiku? Find out.
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.
May 2010 marked the tenth anniversary of this website. Issa's fans from around the globe showed their love.haiku links
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.