The San Francisco Bay Area Nature Guide and Saijiki
What is a Saijiki?
A saijiki is a dictionary of season words or kigo used by haiku poets. It is also useful for
naturalists and people interested in the natural and cultural history of an area. Each entry contains a description of the seasonal element including both its natural and its poetic qualities and is accompanied by haiku written as examples of its use as a poetic figure.
About the Yuki Teikei Saijiki Project
Traditional haiku includes a kigo or seasonal element, a word or phrase that connotes or
denotes the season. The Yuki Teikei Haiku Society promotes the writing of haiku in
English by encouraging writers to first learn the traditional haiku form. The quest for an
English language saijiki started when Kiyoko Tokutomi first compiled the list of kigo for
autumn and winter and published them in Haiku Journal, Vol.1, in 1977. In Haiku
Journal, Vol. 2, 1978, Kiyoko published the list of kigo for spring and summer. In that
same Haiku Journal Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi wrote an article describing the saijiki
and how it was used as a tool for haiku writers in Japan. In a letter to the membership
dated 7 October 1978 they wrote:
“Since the article about saijiki was printed in our most recent edition of Haiku Journal,
many responses have been received encouraging us to begin compiling an English
language saijiki . . . . “Over a period of years, we have been working on [it] in our
spare time. And as many of you know, such an undertaking in addition to our regular
activities would require many years before a compilation would be complete. We
have been asked if such a project could be completed in a shorter period of time if
we had a Saijiki Committee.”
Kiyoshi and Kiyoko went on to call for volunteers to help with the development of
material for an English language saijiki. Although many responded to their call for
volunteers, the project proved to be too large for the young organization. After Kiyoshi
died in 1987 the project became dormant. Then in 1993 Patricia Machmiller and Kiyoko Tokutomi in a modest attempt to create an example of a saijiki published the Monterey Bay and Peninsula Regional Saijiki for participants’ use at the annual Haiku Retreat at Asilomar in Pacific Grove CA. This saijiki used excerpts from various field guides of local flora and fauna and combined them with translations of traditional Japanese kigo that fit the region.
Finally in 1999 at the Haiku Retreat the idea surfaced once again of a regional saijiki for
Yuki Teikei. A Saijiki Committee was once again formed, and eleven years later on the
thirty-fifth anniversary of the Society, the San Francisco Nature Guide and Saijiki, a
long-time dream of the Society’s founders, became a reality.
The season words included in the Saijiki are provided below. The editors encourage poets to write haiku including these season words and submit them for inclusion in the next edition of the Saijiki.
- Landscape first blossoming tree, vernal pool
- Human Affairs César Chávez Day, Maverick Beach
- Animals by-the-wind sailor, gray fox, hilltopping, painted lady, returning gray whales, rookery, singing frogs, snowy plover, surfperch
- Plants California lilac, ceanothos, California poppy, Chinese houses, Douglas iris; mountain iris, field mustard, globe lily; fairy lantern, goldfields, Ithuriel’s spear, madrone, manzanita, miner’s lettuce, redwood sorrel, shooting star, sticky monkey flower, thrift
- Landscape golden hills, summer fog, wild land fire
- Human Affairs Bay to Breakers Race
- Animals anise swallowtail, gopher snake, midshipman, smelt, water turtles
- Plants beach primrose, beach sagewort, coyote mint, elderberry, evening primrose, farewell-to-spring, hens-and-chickens, live-forever, matilija poppy, mariposa tulip, sand verbena, soap plant, tar weed, yellow star thistle
- Sky and Elements first rain
- Landscape brown hills
- Human Affairs San Francisco Military Fleet Week
- Animals acorn woodpecker, California quail, migrating monarchs, migrating raptors, purple-striped jelly, tarantula
- Plants big leaf maple, buckeye, buckwheat, clematis, huckleberry, oak apple; oak gall, pickle weed, rattlesnake grass, snowberry, ticking leaves, western hop bush, wild grape
- Sky and Elements cold rain
- Landscape arroyos come alive, kelp wrack, mudslides, snow on the peaks, tule fog
- Human Affairs Julia Morgan, olive harvest, John Steinbeck
- Animals California newt, elephant seal, junco flocks, ladybug, northern harrier, sanderling, steelhead, white-crowned sparrow, yellow-billed magpie,
- Plants artichoke, coyote brush, oak mistletoe, sycamore, toyon
A description of the Saijiki and purchasing information are available on the Publications page.
The covers of the book and a sample page are shown below.