Tanka(短歌) and Henka(返歌)

June 4, 2006

Tanka is a short poem that follows this pattern: 5-7-5-7-7. It usually were used to tell about someone feeling. It’s quite remarkable what words can do even with only a short statement. Sometimes Tanka were accompanied by Henka, which answers to the Tanka. One of the uniqueness of Henka is that it re-uses parts of the Tanka and the word position inside the Tanka. Henka can also compliment Tanka in a way that the two might become like a conversation, a set or even a different way of seeing something.

After seeing it in a Japanese TV program, I’m quite impressed by the beauty of Tanka and Henka. The program were taken during a lesson in one of the Junior High School in Japan. And I have to say that the results and the Tankas that the children able to produce were very good. Easy to understand, have strong emotions and have an everyday theme in them. Maybe someday I’d be able to make one also. 😉


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