March 5, 2019

History of theYuki Teikei (有季定型) Haiku Society

History of theYuki Teikei (有季定型) Haiku Society

The Yuki Teikei Haiku Society (YTHS) was founded in San Jose, California, in 1975 by Mr. Kiyoshi Tokutomi and Mrs. Kiyoko Tokutomi. The purpose of the founders was to nourish and foster the art of writing haiku in English using the traditional guidelines developed by haiku poets in Japan. As explained by Mrs. Tokutomi, in Japanese “Yu” means ‘having’, “Ki” means ‘season’, “Tei” means ‘formal’, and “Kei” means ‘pattern’. Therefore in the founders’ view, “yuki teikei” haiku, with a season word and utilizing the three-line 5-7-5 pattern of syllables, are the proper rendering of the haiku form in English. Under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Tokutomi the YTHS took root in San Jose, and presently has grown to an international organization of almost 100 poets.

It is one of the most active English-language haiku societies. The Society meets monthly for haiku writing and study. It publishes the GEPPO, a quarterly work-study journal. It also publishes a members’ annual anthology, and other publications including the highly regarded book Young Leaves. The Society celebrates traditional Japanese haiku-writing holidays including Tanabata, moon-viewing, and cherry blossom viewing.

A notable achievement of the Society has been the establishment of an annual haiku retreat at the lovely and historic Asilomar Seashore and Conference Center on the Pacific Coast of the Monterey Peninsula. The Society continues to value the principles of the founders and their insights into how haiku should be written in English, while continuing to receive guidance from historical and evolving Japanese practices.

A number of the members use the 5-7-5 syllables as their preferred form of the English haiku, and it is the required form for submissions to the Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest. Others provide “good form” in haiku through a variety of line lengths, and such poems constitute the bulk of submissions to the GEPPO and other Society publications. The proper use of season words in English-language haiku is encouraged in all the activities of the Society.