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Japanese Death Poems

Celebrate Impermanence. Embrace each moment and each other.

In honor and celebration of those who have passed before us, we offer a selection of poems written about death. Let us raise a glass in celebration and appreciation of the departed.


The following poems were written by haiku poets on the verge of death. All poems have been translated from Japanese.


Morning glory
even though you wither
dawn will break anew
– Gengen’ichi, 1804



A bright and pleasant
autumn day to make
death’s journey.
– Fukyu, 1771



I wonder where
the winds of winter
drive the rainclouds…
– Hakuen, 1806



Now as a spirit
I shall roam
the summer fields.
– Hokusai, 1849



I shift my pillow
closer to the
full moon.
– Saiba, 1858



When autumn winds blow
not one leaf remains
the way it was.
– Togyu, 1749



The owner of the cherry blossoms
turns to compost
for the trees
– Utsu, 1863

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