otaku haiku top

See the otaku spirit reflected beautifully in 17 syllables.

Almost everyone is familiar with haiku, the Japanese form of poetry consisting of 17 syllables in a five-seven-five pattern. What is less well-know, however, is senryu – the sister to haiku. It has the same 17-syllable structure as haiku, but senryu tend to focus on humanity, whereas haiku focus on nature, though the two names are often used interchangeably in English.

And when writing senryu, what better part of humanity to focus on than otaku? The Japanese company Interlink just finished its 11th “otaku senryu contest,” with cash prizes to the top 10 finishers.

Ready to take a peek onto the poetic soul of the otaku? Then read on to see some of the top poems, with translations below.

▼ The winners in the original Japanese.
(Note that it’s nearly impossible to translate both the meaning and haiku format, so we opted to take some liberties with the 5-7-5 format in English.)

otaku poetry

#1. 100,000 yen (US$896) prize

I turn off the computer
The beautiful woman disappears
Only my fat reflection fills the screen

#2. 50,000 ($448) yen prize

I have many hobbies
But talking to people
Is not one of them

#3. 50,000 yen prize

From my wallet
A ten-thousand yen bill disappears
Ah! And there goes another

#3. 10,000 ($90) yen prize

At the handshake event
The hot guy gets two minutes
Alas, I get five seconds

#5. 10,000 yen prize

The idea of buying something
On the spot, spur of the moment
Makes me laugh

#7. 10,000 yen prize

The year of Evangelion
Came and went
But the angels did not appear

#7. 10,000 yen prize

I always thought that
Marriage was just
Something that happened to everybody

#10. 5,000 ($45) yen prize

I want my hand
To reach for the same book
As someone else

#11. Runner-Up

(´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`)
(´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`)
(´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`) (´・ω・`)

#12. Runner-Up

I couldn’t beat
The boss of the level
So I took a break

#19. Runner-Up

(Not a translation, actual submission minus parentheses.)

I like Sukumizu (school swimming suits)
Buruma (bloomers)

That last one lacks a bit of the subtlety of the others, but it gets its point across loud and proud: the otaku spirit is just as worthy of poetic celebration as any other human endeavor!

Have you suddenly become inspired to compose an otaku-poem of your own? Share it in the comments, and don’t be afraid to stray a bit from the rigid 5-7-5 syllable structure. Who knows – with a little practice, maybe your name could be on the winners’ board next time!

Source/insert image: Interlink via My Game News Flash
Featured/top image: FunnyJunk