My daughter is now five years old and she attends a couple different preschools. One is American while the other is Japanese. Also, she attends a little “after school” Japanese class where she learns things like reading, culture and so on.
In this after-school class she gets little reading assignments such as reading a book she likes 10 times or memorizing certain rhymes. Lately, though, she’s been learning about haiku.
So lately my daughters’ class received a booklet of famous haiku poems and is tasked with memorizing then one at a time. When she successfully recites one, the teacher will stamp her book. Like her daddy, she is a nerd, and enjoys memorizing things so she remembers a couple already.
Because haiku are so short she can remember them somewhat easily. Understanding the meaning is a little more difficult. Here’s a difficult poem by Matsuo Basho:
いわにしみいる iwa ni shimiiru
せみのこえ semi no koe
The meaning is something like this (totally amateur translation):
Oh the silence!
Soaking into the rock
the cicada’s voice.
Among other haiku.
I think it’s great that she’s learning it. She won’t really grasp it yet, or remember it months later, but it’s still good exposure. I’ve been trying to do the same as well with the famous hyakunin isshu anthology which I’ve posted about in the past, and have a separate blog dedicated too.
Since the Hyakunin Isshu is also used in a card game called uta-garuta and since we have a set at home, I sometimes play this game with my daughter. Nothing serious, just playing around. Waka poetry is longer than haiku, so I really don’t expect her to learn any of it, but getting used to the sound and rhythm is still very helpful I think.
Edit: The author of this poem appears to be Matsuo Basho, not Kobayashi Issa, so I have updated the blog post. Thanks to reader KHO for the tip.