Saijiki Project

The San Francisco Bay Area Nature Guide and Saijiki

What is a Saijiki?

A saijiki is a dictionary of season words or kigo used by haiku poets. It is also useful for naturalists and people interested in the natural and cultural history of an area. Each entry contains a description of the seasonal element including both its natural and its poetic qualities and is accompanied by haiku written as examples of its use as a poetic figure.

About the Yuki Teikei Saijiki Project

Traditional haiku includes a kigo or seasonal element, a word or phrase that connotes or denotes the season. The Yuki Teikei Haiku Society promotes the writing of haiku in English by encouraging writers to first learn the traditional haiku form. The quest for an English language saijiki started when Kiyoko Tokutomi first compiled the list of kigo for autumn and winter and published them in Haiku Journal, Vol.1, in 1977. In Haiku Journal, Vol. 2, 1978, Kiyoko published the list of kigo for spring and summer. In that same Haiku Journal Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi wrote an article describing the saijiki and how it was used as a tool for haiku writers in Japan. In a letter to the membership dated 7 October 1978 they wrote:

“Since the article about saijiki was printed in our most recent edition of Haiku Journal, many responses have been received encouraging us to begin compiling an English language saijiki . . . . Over a period of years, we have been working on [it] in our spare time. And as many of you know, such an undertaking in addition to our regular activities would require many years before a compilation would be complete. We have been asked if such a project could be completed in a shorter period of time if we had a Saijiki Committee.”

Kiyoshi and Kiyoko went on to call for volunteers to help with the development of material for an English language saijiki. Although many responded to their call for volunteers, the project proved to be too large for the young organization. After Kiyoshi died in 1987 the project became dormant. Then in 1993 Patricia Machmiller and Kiyoko Tokutomi in a modest attempt to create an example of a saijiki published the Monterey Bay and Peninsula Regional Saijiki for participants’ use at the annual Haiku Retreat at Asilomar in Pacific Grove CA. This saijiki used excerpts from various field guides of local flora and fauna and combined them with translations of traditional Japanese kigo that fit the region.

Finally, in 1999 at the Haiku Retreat, the idea surfaced once again of a regional saijiki for Yuki Teikei. A Saijiki Committee was once again formed, and eleven years later on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Society, the San Francisco Nature Guide and Saijiki, a long-time dream of the Society’s founders, became a reality.

The season words included in the Saijiki are provided below. The editors encourage poets to write haiku including these season words and submit them for inclusion in the next edition of the Saijiki.


  •  Landscape:   first blossoming tree,  vernal pool
  • Human Affairs:   César Chávez Day,  Maverick Beach
  • Animals:   by-the-wind sailor,   gray fox,   hilltopping,   painted lady,   returning gray whales,   rookery,   singing frogs,   snowy plover,   surfperch
  • Plants:   California lilac,  ceanothos,   California poppy,   Chinese houses,   Douglas iris;  mountain iris,   field mustard,   globe lily; fairy lantern,   goldfields,   Ithuriel’s spear,   madrone,   manzanita,   miner’s lettuce,   redwood sorrel,   shooting star,   sticky monkey flower,   thrift


  • Landscape:   golden hills,   summer fog,   wild land fire
  • Human Affairs:   Bay to Breakers Race
  • Animals:   anise swallowtail,   gopher snake,   midshipman,   smelt,  water turtles
  • Plants:   beach primrose,   beach sagewort,   coyote mint,   elderberry,  evening primrose,   farewell-to-spring,   hens-and-chickens, live-forever,   matilija poppy,   mariposa tulip,   sand verbena,   soap plant,  tar weed,   yellow star thistle


  • Sky and Elements:   first rain
  • Landscape:   brown hills
  • Human Affairs:   San Francisco Military Fleet Week
  • Animals:   acorn woodpecker,   California quail,  migrating monarchs,   migrating raptors,  purple-striped jelly,   tarantula
  • Plants:   big leaf maple,   buckeye,   buckwheat,   clematis,   huckleberry,   oak apple; oak gall,   pickle weed,   rattlesnake grass,   snowberry,   ticking leaves,   western hop bush,   wild grape


  • Sky and Elements:   cold rain
  • Landscape:   arroyos come alive,   kelp wrack,   mudslides,   snow on the peaks,   tule fog
  • Human Affairs:   Julia Morgan,   olive harvest,   John Steinbeck
  • Animals:   California newt,   elephant seal,  junco flocks,   ladybug,   northern harrier,   sanderling,   steelhead,   white-crowned sparrow,   yellow-billed magpie,
  • Plants:   artichoke,   coyote brush,   oak mistletoe,   sycamore,   toyon

A description of the Saijiki and purchasing information are available on the Publications page.

The covers of the book and a sample page are shown below.

1 thought on “Saijiki Project

  1. Pingback: Saijiki | Branches

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