BJ’s Shadorma & Beyond – Sedoka – November 29, 2014

Hello Everyone!

Seems someone had problems with our little gifs … so we won’t party today with one … no, we’ll just salute all your fantastic efforts  with a bit of sparkling wine!

Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Peder Severin Krøyer 1888
Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Peder Severin Krøyer 1888

Today we’re going to look into the basics of Japanese poetry. No, not haiku, the katauta –  we’re going to go back into the past long before the age of haiku … and though the katauta might look like a haiku to you, it isn’t.

I’m wondering how many people have begun to notice a pattern in Japanese poetry … the forms (kyoka, choka, tanka, haiku, senryu or sedoka)  are basically all formed by either a 19 onji or a 17 onji three lined stanza in various combinations and in particular circumstances with an ending of a two lines stanza of 7/7 syllables. The basic difference in Japanese forms lies in the subject of the poem.  But let’s leave this interesting subject hanging here and go on with today’s meme.

The katauta was (and is) the basis of most Japanese classical poetry (waka) which came originally from China.  It is composed of either 17 or 19 onji (or sounds) but for our convenience we’re going to use syllables (5-7-5 or 5-7-7-).  A katauta was often used for writing love poetry, but just one katauta was considered incomplete so, the poet completed his poem by writing two 5-7-7 syllable katauta which was called a sedoka.  As always there is no rhyming required in this poetry form, though it’s not forbidden to do so.

Let me quote from Kujaku Poetry and Ships:

Sedoka were composed of two katauta, or half-poems. Each katauta was three lines and complete in itself and could stand alone; they followed a pattern of 5-7-7 syllables. Two of them combined together to make a complete whole – 5/7/7 5/7/7. As is usual, English does not conform to the Japanese syllable pattern so considerable leeway is given regarding line length. Since few people are writing even fewer sedoka, there are no English-language standards. This makes it rather attractive since whoever writes one gets to do as they please and nobody will argue with them. If sedoka catch on, which seems unlikely, perhaps some consensus will emerge.


It should be noted that each katauta of a sedoka, though considered an incomplete poem by ancient Japanese standards, must have a complete thought, it can stand alone and the two katauta compliment or complete each other. This is not a haiku, so you needn’t worry about seasonal words, cutting phrases, you can use I without feeling ashamed ( 😉 ) and you’re not tied to nature nor need you seek to convey deep spiritual meaning.

Here’s an example of a sedoka:

leaving the station
after their train departed
I felt I’d lost my heart

arriving in Rome
my children came to greet me
I found my heart once again

G.s.k. ’14

If you would like to try the sedoka (a non rhyming six line poem of 5/7/7/ 5/7/7  syllables) or if you choose to write a shadorma (– a non-rhyming six-line poem of 3/5/3/3/7/5 syllables) here’s a song to inspire you:

Once you’ve written your shadorma or your sedoka, please tag:  BJ’s Shadorma & Beyond and MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie, then put your info onto the Mr. Linky app.  If you ping us back, we’ll be able to read your post ASAP because we will be notified that you’ve written the post (not so with Mr. Linky).

Have a great week folks!



  1. WV is an hour south of here — so I grew up with this song. 🙂
    Even sang it in a chorus concert in elementary school, believe it or not!
    Great prompt — will be neat to see what everyone comes up with.


  2. Reblogged this on Blog It or Lose It! and commented:

    A sedoka is a set of two complementary katauta.
    A katauta is a haiku-like poem in 5/7/5 or 5/7/7. Originally, a katauta was a love poem. One katauta is considered “incomplete” so a solo poet will combine two complementary katauta to create a sedoka.
    Unlike haiku, katauta and sedoka don’t need to contain nature, cutting words, season words, or have a deeper spiritual meaning. Rhyming is neither required nor forbidden and the poet is allowed to use “I”.
    However – each katauta must be able to stand on its own and the two katauta must complement one another.


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