In 1964, while the Tokyo Olympics were being held, Japan Airlines organized a Haiku contest on a U.S.
radio station, which sparked the popularity of this art form overseas.
Forty-one thousand (41,000) haiku
were submitted for this first contest.
After some interval, in 1982, JAL held a second haiku competition in the
US, this time for high school
students, as part of a tourism promotion program for Japan. In 1986, JAL
exhibited Japanese children’s
haiku in the Expo’86 held in Vancouver, Canada. Subsequently, JAL held
the first children’s haiku
contest in British Colombia, where fourteen thousand (14,000) entries were
In 1987-88, JAL held a children’s haiku contest in the US and Canada, and forty-one thousand (41,000) haiku were submitted. This was followed by a primary school children’s haiku contest in Queensland, Australia in 1988, where sixteen thousand (16,000) haiku were submitted.
The winning entries of these three contests, in Canada, the US and Australia
from 1986-88, were compiled in a book entitled Haiku By the World’s Children, published in 1989.
In 1990, the year the JAL Foundation was founded, the 1st World Children’s Haiku Contest was held for children all over the world aged 15 years and under, to be timed concurrently with the Osaka Flower and Green World Exposition. The current contest is the 14th such event.
The works that are composed of drawings and haiku brilliantly portray scenes that children see in their daily lives or maintain in their memory, and reflect the characteristic features, social conditions, and perspectives of their respective countries. The drawings help deepen the understanding of the people living in distant countries and regions. “Haiku by World Children”, an anthology of prize winning haiku, has been widely introduced in textbooks and reference books in Japan and abroad, and effectively used in the field of education.