Micro-Season: “Haze First Covers The Sky” (2023)

We have entered the micro-season of “Haze First Covers the Sky”. This is the second micro-season of the mini-season Rain Water.  All the micro-seasons within Rain Water are:

  • The Earth Becomes Damp (Feb 19-Feb 23)
  • Haze First Covers the Sky (Feb. 24 – Feb 28)
  • Plants Show Their First Buds (Mar 01 – Mar 04)

These seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai and are specific to Japan. However, just because the calendar focuses on Japan doesn’t mean it isn’t applicable to others.  No matter where you live you can use these seasons as a starting point for your personal exploration of the world around you. 

To celebrate this season, we will learn about haze and other related spring kigo.  Then we will read seasonal haiku from Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki.

What Is Haze?

Haze is a term used to describe one of the seven common atmospheric obscuration types.  An atmospheric obscuration is any phenomenon, other than precipitation, that reduces horizontal visibility.  Besides haze, the other common obscurations are fog, mist, smoke, volcanic ash, dust, and sand.(1)

When “haze” is used to describe an atmospheric phenomenon, it is referring to the suspension of tiny dry particles (about 0.1 microns) in the air that can not be seen or felt individually, but when taken as a collective they can reduce visibility. A hazy sky usually has a blueish, brownish, or yellowish tint to it. (2) 

Haze Or Mist?

This tint is one of the ways you can tell haze from a mist.  Another factor used to distinguish haze from a mist is the difference between air temperature and dew point. If “the difference between the air temperature and dew point is greater than 3°F (1.7°C) the obscuration is usually called ‘haze’”.(1) Likewise, if the difference between the air temperature and dew point is less than 3°F (1.7°C)  the obscuration is called “mist”.

What Is Mist?

Mist is the suspension of tiny water molecules in the atmosphere that reduces horizontal visibility to less than “7 miles (11 km) but more than or equal to 5/8th mile (1 km)”.(1) If the reduction in visibility caused by water molecules is less than 5/8th of a mile (1 km) the obscuration is then called “fog”.  

What Is Heat Haze?

There is another atmospheric phenomenon that sounds similar to haze called heat haze  Heat haze, which may also be called heat shimmer, is an optical phenomenon where light rays bend and distort visual images.  In heat haze, the distortion of the images is caused by looking through heated air.  This distortion can occur above concrete, around fires, or neat exhaust of large engines.  Although this phenomenon contains the word “haze”, heat haze and haze are very different.

Heat haze is identified as an inferior mirage. An inferior mirage is a mirage that appears below, instead of above, the actual object you are observing.  This is different from haze, which we already know is classified as an atmospheric obscuration. Although I would think of heat haze, or heat shimmer, as a summer kigo, it is listed as a spring kigo in The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Seasonal Words by Kenkichi Yamamoto.

Seasonal Haiku

The authors of the 72-season app state that during “Haze First Covers the Sky” the clouds and smoke “seem to flow rather than rise straight up”.(5) The flowing smoke could be an indication of a process known as Temperature Inversion.  With temperature inversion, the colder air of the valleys is “capped” by a layer of warmer air above.(4)  The warmer air will actually keep the smoke from rising and will force it to disperse horizontally.  The smoke stays closer to the ground until the sun is able to warm up those colder parts of the earth and the smoke can dissipate. 

Haze, Spring Haze, and Haziness are all listed as spring kigo in the World Kigo Database.  Mist and Oboro (Oboro is a haze that occurs in the evening) are also spring kigo. Fog, however, is an autumn kigo.

Dr. Gabi Greve also points out that,  “Misty memory, hazy mind and such use of adjectives are not considered kigo.”(6)

With all this in mind, let’s read some haiku!


surely it is spring
in the nameless mountains
a thin haze
(translated by Jane Reichhold
the setting sun
a thread of heat haze
as remnant
(translated by Jane Reichhold)


Morning haze:
as in a painting of a dream,
men go their ways.
(translated by Harold G. Henderson)


even at dawn
spring haze hovers...
Sumida River
(translated by David G. Lanoue)
bit by bit
more haze, more moon...
secluded temple
(translated by David G. Lanoue)


the shadow of a halberd
in the haze -
moon on the bridge
(retrieved from WKD)

A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon with a blade or battle axe on the top.  A Japanese halberd, also known as naginata, is described by Dr. Gabi Greve as:

“a wooden shaft with a curved blade on the end; it is similar to the Chinese guan dao or the European glaive. Naginata often have a sword-like hand guard (tsuba) between the blade and shaft when mounted in a koshirae. The 30 cm to 60 cm long naginata blade is forged in the same manner as traditional Japanese swords. The blade has a long tang (nakago) which is inserted in the shaft (nagaye or ebu). The blade is removable and is secured by means of a wooden peg (mekugi) that passes through a hole (mekugi-ana) in both the nakago and the nagaye (ebu).” Edo- The Edopedia

Haiku Invitation

This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that references haze or spring mists.  

Share your haiku in the comments below, or post on your own page and link back to this post. I can’t wait to read what you write!  


  1. “Obscuration Types”; National Weather Service
  2. “Haze”; Brittanica
  3. “Mirage”; Wikipedia
  4. “Temperature Inversion and Smoke” USDA.gov
  5. 72 season App. Kurashikata.com
  6. “Fog, Mist, Haze, and More”; World Kigo Database
  7. “Naginata – Halberd”; Edo – The Edopedia, Dr. Gabi Greve

 Basho’s haiku was retrieved from Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations. Issa’s haiku was retrieved from David G. Lanoue’s HaikuGuy.com.  Buson’s haiku was retrieved from the Haiku of Yosa Buson by Terebess Asia Online (TAO). Shiki’s haiku was retrieved from the World Kigo Database.

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61 thoughts on “Micro-Season: “Haze First Covers The Sky” (2023)

Add yours

      1. Thanks for the link. Something to investigate.
        Most haiku sites are very strict in regards to form. So I tend to stay away…

        I like to mix all sorts of short forms. I’m sure I am not the first to do so… and won’t be the last.

        Apparently I missed the entry time. But it is interesting that they limit the total words to 50. I actually with the pairs, sometimes do 3,5,3 or 5,7,5 haiku with the 17 syllable American Sentence. Thanks again for the link.

    1. Mary Jo,

      There is a bit of a haze in any morning when we have to rise and wait for grumbling school buses. I moved when in high school and before I got a car I had to walk in the dark to another neighborhoods’ suburban stop to get the bus to my school. Old trees and shadows do create a hide and seek game to start the day. And when it is cold it isn’t a fun game.

      1. Thanks, Jules. I’m so glad this resonated with you, since I was drawing on my own high school memories! Finding that photo online was frosting on my cake. 🙂

    2. Hi Mary Jo, What a wonderful scene you created here! I so enjoy reading the comments on your page and seeing what resonates with people. Thanks so much for joining the conversation!

  1. midday haze
    winding Mulholland with
    the valley below

    One of the most famous drives in LA winds its way high on the Santa Monica mountains where you can look down on one side towards the ocean and on the other the entire San Fernando Valley. It is stunning and not to be missed, but do not attempt it at night unless you know it well. It is very curvy and has almost no lights.

    Haze is both how the valley often looks and also an allusion to the drugs and delusions of many chasing fame.

    1. Hi Eavonka, Thanks for the bit of information about the haiku. I really enjoy the potential double meaning of haze and the symbolism of Mulholland drive. This is a stacked haiku! Thanks for sharing your creativity!

      1. Much appreciated, Mark! This week also made me think of The Bangles version of “Hazy Days of Winter”.

  2. This one is loaded with meaning! Sadly, it also brings to mind haze created by unnatural forces found in many ‘valleys.’ I’ve seen in Phoenix, Denver, and Albuquerque that brown cloud known as smog. Sorry to be such a bummer. I’m sure the ocean haze along the coast is magnificent and dangerous as you point out.

    1. Oh, it is often smog, but just as often actual haze on either side. We have decreased smog in LA by so much because of our strigent gas rules (which increase how much we pay by a lot). For instance, we are still near $5 a gallon.

    1. Hi Sean, Thanks for joining the conversation! This haiku reminds me of a conversation I had with an older friend of mine who went to the eye doctor because he was so concerned about his failing eyesight. The doctor cleaned his glasses and gave the back to him. Fixed the problem! My friend was a little embarrassed to say the least. Oh, the joys of getting older! Thanks again for sharing your work! Have a good weekend.

      1. No worries. Worked out how to use my jetpack reader so now I get notified on my phone. Yeah it’s one of the pleasures of getting older. Mind you there’s another element to it as well. I usually cleaning my glasses in the morning over breakfast, and by the end of that the head haze has lifted too.

  3. My attempt to write a haiku at the haze

    Autumn haze descends, (5 syllables)
    Nature’s veil softens the world, (7 syllables)
    Peaceful, stillness reigns (5 syllables)

    My attempt to write a haiku at spring mists.

    Spring mists caress trees (5 syllables)
    Soft blankets of white and gray (7 syllables)
    Nature’s gentle touch (5 syllables)

    1. Thanks so much for joining the conversation! The idea of spring mists caressing the trees is wonderful. Thanks for sharing your work. Have a good rest of your day!

    1. Hi Nancy,These are both wonderful! I really enjoy the “spring mists”. For me it reads as a very peaceful and hopeful scene. Thanks so much sharing!

  4. hi Mark, please find below my contribution to the conversation. I have already posted on my blog, anitabacha.blog some two days ago with the link to your site.

    wisp of morning haze
    straggling through the sleeping tree
    soft buds of Spring wake

    1. Hi Anita, Thank you so much for adding to this conversation! I really like the gentle awakening you are depicting here! I also like that you have included the soft buds of spring. Spring buds are another sign of spring and our next featured micro-season!

  5. Thank you for the inspiration, Mark.
    Here is my offering which struggled its way through my cotton-wool brain!

    The balm of spring mist
    succour to my weary soul
    bathes all in rebirth

    1. Hi Lesley, So glad you could join the conversation, and thanks for sharing your haiku. The balm of spring mist is a wonderful image! Not bad for a cotton-wool brain!!! Thanks again for sharing.

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