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I was once told that haiku should be "padded" so that instead of 5/7/5, they fit an 8/8/8 meter:

■■■■■□□□ ← wait for 3 beats after this line
■■■■■■■□ ← wait for 1 beat after this line
■■■■■□□□ ← wait for 3 beats after this line

If I recall correctly, the explanation was that Japanese favors rhythms in groups of 4 or 8 beats (morae). I don't actually know if haiku are read this way, though--it's just something I was told once.

Are haiku actually read aloud with these pauses? Or is this something my friend made up?

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Holy crap, I do this automatically and I never noticed it. – Sjiveru Dec 22 '13 at 1:21
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Yes, I think you'd read it as:


for 5/7/5 like かたつむり・・・ where the middle line can be split into 4+3(e.g.: トウキョウ・ナゴヤ).
And you'd read it as:


for 5/7/5 like 静かさや・・・ where the middle line sounds better when split into 3+4(e.g.: カワズ・トビコム).

And you'd probably read it as:


for 5/8/5, like 8/5/8/5/8/5... :D(唱歌・カタツムリ童謡・鳩より)

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wwwwちょこれーと東京名古屋かたつむり。最高のアンサーだわ、これw – Darius Jahandarie Dec 22 '13 at 3:09
いい俳句が思いつかなかったんで・・・^^; – user1016 Dec 22 '13 at 4:19
Yup! And according to this book (p171, 2.14 Rhythm in "Haiku"), that also explains why 「ニッポン」, rather than 「にほん」, is used for cheering. – Noir May 22 '14 at 8:27
Interesting. Are there any recorded examples of this out there? – Roy Fuentes May 22 '14 at 17:51
@RoyFuentes I recorded my reading on Vocaroo and pasted the links up here. For more... how about this 百人一首 読み上げ, not the same words/songs, though. – user1016 May 23 '14 at 9:31

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