What’s the story behind the Lexus Haiku?

Lexus Haiku

World Poetry Day (March 21) celebrates the power of poems: their ability to capture the spirit, unleash creativity, and turn humble words into something transcendent. From witty limericks to the greatest of epics, poetry comes in all shapes and forms – but innovation and imagination are always at its heart.

Of course, those values underpin the Lexus ethos too. So to mark World Poetry Day, we have written a haiku in celebration of Lexus’s Takumi master craftspeople – our ‘Takumi’. These are the artisans who have dedicated their lives to pursuing perfection, honing their engineering skills over at least 60,000 hours: the equivalent of 30 years’ full-time training.

There is no higher honour within our engineering ranks – and among the 7,700 workers at the Miyata Lexus Plant in Kyushu, Japan, there are just 19 Takumi. Their expertise is essential to everything we do, so our haiku pays homage to them – and the power and craftsmanship that they bring to each of our cars.

What is a haiku?

A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem, in a uniquely short format. Each haiku consists of just 17 syllables divided across three non-rhyming lines: with 5, 7, then 5 syllables on each respective one. Whole sentences can be spread across multiple lines.

It may sound complicated, but the result is simple and unfettered – and most haikus can be read aloud in one breath. There is no room for the florid language that’s typical of many other poetry types: haikus are stripped-back, honest and pure. They can be witty and conversational, or more sombre and staid.

As with all literary forms, haikus have evolved over the centuries. To read the classics, look to the works of Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), Yosa Buson (1716-84), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) and Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) – known as the ‘Great Four’. Throughout the 20th century, the haiku travelled west, influencing writers including Jack Kerouac and Ezra Pound.

Traditionally, haikus offer a snapshot of a particular scene or moment, like a photograph does. The likes of Basho and Issa focused on the natural world, taking inspiration from wildlife or the changing seasons – often zooming in on a particular sensory detail, like the scent of a flower or the sound of the wind.

Today, haiku’s themes are much more varied – and some poets break the syllable ‘rules’ too. For our own haiku, we’ve remained faithful to the structure but have focused on the man-made world, rather than the traditional natural world.

How to write your own haiku

Fancy giving it a go? Thanks to their simple form, haikus are a great way to experiment with writing poetry. Here’s how to get started:

● Pick a focus: Which particular moment or scene do you want to capture?

● Remember the structure: Use that 5-7-5 syllable rule, and there’s no need for rhymes.

● Use your senses: What can you see/hear/feel/smell/taste?

● Read it out-loud: It’ll help you work out those syllables, and trim unnecessary words.

● Share it: If you write a haiku, we’d love to read it – please add it to the comments below

Words by Hazel Plush

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