Mindlovemisery's Menagerie

A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.

B&P’s Shadorma and Beyond – Kyoka

Hello Everyone.

Today I thought we’d look at a rather special Japanese genre called kyoka.  It’s not considered a “proper” poetry form among the academics, even in this day and age, because like senryu, it has been considered, well, low-class and something a little shameful to write … we might consider both as something along the lines of the limerick in our western cultural context, which until recently were loved by many but a little frowned upon.

Kyoka, though around for a long time  had it’s heyday only in the last quarter of the 18th century.  Poetry in Japan had been reserved to the aristocratic samurai class and usually written in Chinese. Waka (Japanese Poetry) began to weave it’s way into the merchant class as this class became more literate,  allowing them to create and enjoy poetry, even if they didn’t have the extensive literary experience and training of the samurai, they could follow the metric rules and create acceptable verse.

Kyoka (“playful verses” 狂歌) became very popular and was written along with  ukiyo-e ( “pictures of the floating world”) woodblock prints which were sometimes rather bawdy –  artists, commoners and of course samurai, though under pen-names because of their high rank and fear of ostracism all wrote kyoka until the Shogun clamped down on the genre rendering it nearly extinct. The floating world by the way was what we’d call the red light district. The subject of a kyoka doesn’t have to be bawdy … just funny or surprising.

The rules of kyoka are rather simple:
1.    The syllable structure is 5-7-5-7-7 (or for those who follow the modern haiku rules – short long short long long lines with no more than no more than 31 syllables.)2. It divided in two parts, the 5-7-5 part is called kami-no-ku (“upper phrase”), and the 7-7 part is called shimo-no-ku (“lower phrase”).
3. There is a subtle turn, often unexpected in the middle of the poem, usually after line two or three.
4. It has a thirty-one syllable count of  (or fewer are acceptable more isn’t).
5. It is humorous verse or a parody of a famous waka (or tanka).
6. It may contain internal rhyme but should avoid end rhyme.
7. Try to punctuate lightly or not at all.
The following is a classical kyoka:
Yoshiwara no
Yomise o haru no
Yugure wa
iriai no kane ni
Hana ya sakuranIn Yoshiwara
the women
are showing their wares
this evening –
blossoms glowing in the echoes
of vesper bells
© Yomo No Akara (Translated by Steven Carter)

Here, Akira is talking about the ladies of the floating world plying their trade in the red light district.

The following is a kyoka I wrote on my Waka Library blog last June:

this prickly plants grows
like some men I’ve known
with a little love –
affection and attention
they raise their seductive stalks

 G.s.k. ’14

Here’s your prompt:


Feel free to write a shadorma (a non-rhyming six-line poem in 3/5/3/3/7/5) and/or kyoka The choice is yours! When you have written your poem(s), please TAG them B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond and MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie. Then add your link to the Mister Linky widget below.

And have fun!

About Georgia

I love to read...I like to write...I've travelled the world and seen the sites. I'm past my prime and feel so young, especially when near the young. I'm writing this blog, to remember, to think and to share...with the hopes that someone else will make a comment that will stimulate new thoughts and pathways. Actually, I'm a gabber, so the logical extension of gabbing is blogging! ;-)

14 comments on “B&P’s Shadorma and Beyond – Kyoka

  1. Pingback: B&P’s Shadorma and Beyond – Kyoka | ladyleemanila

    June 13, 2015

    Amazing–and I suspect I’ll have to pass this time. Always love to read your beautiful writing.

    • Bastet
      June 14, 2015

      Thanks Dell … Kyoka can be fun .. not more difficult than a tanka but naughtier 😉

        June 14, 2015

        Well, naughty can definitely be fun sometimes.

      • Bastet
        June 15, 2015

        Sure can 🙂

  3. Pingback: No Dear, Not in My Ear! (6.13 s) | Jules Longer Strands of Gems

  4. julespaige
    June 13, 2015

    Perhaps not as risque, but maybe just cunning?
    Tacked onto another verse since they all played nice together.

    • Bastet
      June 14, 2015

      It’s not necessary to risque … in those days some of the kyoka was just about fooling around or drinking or whatever … it’s nice to play with the revered in my opinion 😉

      • julespaige
        June 14, 2015

        I just took it (the prompt) and spun it a tad 😉

        I still had fun. 🙂

  5. Jen
    June 17, 2015

    This will be a whole lot of fun 😉

    • Bastet
      June 17, 2015

      Hope so! 😉

      • Jen
        June 17, 2015

        Have something in mind for tomorrow 😉

      • Bastet
        June 18, 2015

        Cool …

  6. Pingback: sweet little pet | Blog It or Lose It!

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2015 by in BJ Poetry Forms and tagged , , , .
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