Micro-Season: “Bamboo Shoots Appear” (2023)

We have entered the micro-season of “Bamboo Shoots Appear.” This is the third micro-season of the mini-season of First Summer. All the micro-seasons within First Summer are:

The micro-seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai. While they are specific to Japan, they can be helpful to people all over the world. No matter where you live, you can use these seasons as a starting point for your own exploration of the natural world.

To celebrate this season we will learn about the uses of bamboo and read haiku by Basho and Issa.

What is Bamboo?

The term “Bamboo” refers to many perennial evergreen flowering plants found in the Bambusoideae subfamily of the larger Poaceae family of grasses.  Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and can grow up to 36 inches (90 centimeters) in a single day. There are over 1,450 bamboo species, and they are found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.(1)

The Many Uses of Bamboo

Bamboo is an extremely versatile plant and it can be used for food, construction, furniture and flooring, textiles, and more.

Bamboo as Food

Bamboo shoots are a popular food in many parts of the world. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The bamboo shoot, also called the culm, is the above-ground stem of a young bamboo plant. 

When bamboo shoots are used for food they are harvested in the first couple of weeks of growth.  The shoots are described as being, “roughly as soft as an apple.” With a texture that is “very similar to a water chestnut.”(2)   

The most common way to prepare bamboo, and make it safe for consumption, is by boiling and pickling.  However, you can also ferment them and treat them in a saltwater bath for about a week.(2) Proper preparation of bamboo shoots is necessary because the young shoots contain a toxin that can produce cyanide in the gut.(3)

In last year’s post, we looked into bamboo shoots as a food product.  Read that post to learn more and find links to Simmered Bamboo Shoots and Seasoned Bamboo Shoots recipes.

Bamboo in Construction

Once bamboo grows to maturity, it is ideal for construction.  Bamboo is strong, lightweight, and resistant to termites and other pests. Because of its inherent qualities, it has been used in the construction of homes, bridges, and roads.  

There is a commonly referenced statistic by UNESCO that says 70 hectares (about 173 acres) of bamboo can produce enough material to build 1000 houses.(3) Because of bamboo’s fast rate of growth and strength, it is a viable alternative to timber. By switching over to more bamboo homes, we could preserve our already stressed and diminishing forests.

Bamboo for Furniture and Flooring

Bamboo furniture and flooring can be used in both indoor and outdoor applications.  Bamboo furniture and flooring products are made from either solid bamboo or bamboo plywood. Since it can be grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, bamboo products are an eco-friendly, non-toxic option for your home.

Bamboo in Textiles

Bamboo fabric is often used for making clothing, bedding, and towels.  It is strong, durable, absorbent, and a bit like canvas.  The writers at ECONATION say, “Bamboo fabric is breathable, thermal regulating, wicks moisture better than polyester performance fabrics, will resist odor and is absorbent and fast drying keeping you dryer and more comfortable than any cotton or polyester fabrics.”(3) On a personal note, I have bamboo towels and they work great. I highly recommend trying bamboo textiles.

A Few Other Uses for Bamboo

Amazingly, bamboo has many other uses besides food, construction, furniture, flooring, and textiles. The list below is just a few other ways that Bamboo can be used:

  • as medicine,
  • to create musical instruments, 
  • to build fishing rods and brooms, 
  • as ornamental plants, both inside and outside the home.
Bamboo furniture photo by NipananLifestyle.com on Pexels.com
Bamboo furniture photo by NipananLifestyle.com

Seasonal Haiku

According to the World Kigo Database, Bamboo (take) itself is not a seasonal word.  However, there are several seasonal terms related to bamboo. “Bamboo shoots in spring” is a spring kigo.  Whereas, “bamboo sprouts” is a summer kigo.  “Bamboo flowers” and “planting bamboo” are mid-summer kigo. “Cutting bamboo” is an autumn kigo, and “bamboo decorations’ are a New Year kigo.

In The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words as selected by Kenkichi Yamamoto, the phrase “bamboo autumn” is listed as a kigo for late spring.  This is because mid to late spring is when the bamboo leaves turn yellow.

With all this in mind, let’s read some haiku about bamboo in different seasons. 


bamboo shoots- 
and my childhood 
sketches of them. 
(translated by David Landis Barnhill

“Bamboo shoots” places the above haiku in spring

though no rain falls
on Bamboo-Planting Day
raincoats and hats 
(translated byHaruo Shirane

“Bamboo-Plating Day” places this haiku in mid-summer.

moonlight slants through 
the vast bamboo grove: 
 a cuckoo cries 
(translated by R.H. Blyth

The Cuckoo places this haiku in summer.

drooping downward
the upside-down world
of snow on bamboo 
(translated by Jane Reichhold

“Snow on Bamboo” places this haiku in winter


newborn bamboo–
straight up the rising sun
(translated by David G. Lanoue)

“Newborn bamboo” places this haiku in spring

gate after gate
the rain has cleared...
green bamboo blinds
(translated by David G. Lanoue)

“‘Green bamboo blinds’ (ao sudare) is a summer season word. The blinds are fresh-made. A year later, they will be yellow.”- David G. Lanoue Haiku Guy.com.

living too long
a cold night at the gate...
moon in bamboo
(translated by David G. Lanoue)

“Moon in bamboo was a popular subject for paintings in Issa’s day. In this haiku, about winter its light seems cold and cruel. Issa often notes how hard cold weather is on old people. The gate to death?” – David G. Lanoue Haiku Guy.com.

Haiku Invitation

This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that incorporates the “what-when-where” technique of haiku as described in The Way of Haiku.  

“The What-When-Where Technique is the most basic one for writing haiku.  With this technique, all you have to do is provide simple information for each of the following questions: what, when, and where.  Then you organize the information based on the effect you want to create..”(6)

To apply this technique to the current season, the “what” should be a plant, the “when” is now, and the “where” should be personal to you.  

This prompt is a little more complicated than others.  Let’s see what you come up with! Please 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. “Bamboo”; Britannica.com
  2. Fred Hornaday; “Growing Bamboo for Food”: BambuBatu.com
  3. “Bamboo”; Wikipedia
  4. “Bamboo”; Econation.one
  5. “Top 5 Uses For Bamboo Plants”; Earth.com
  6. “Application of Bamboo Plants in Nine Aspects”; NIH.gov
  7. “Five Techniques for writing haiku”; Way of Haiku

 Issa’s haiku was retrieved from David G. Lanoue’s HaikuGuy.com.  Buson’s haiku was retrieved from The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology, edited by Faubion Bowers.  Basho’s haiku was retrieved from Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations 

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53 thoughts on “Micro-Season: “Bamboo Shoots Appear” (2023)

Add yours

    1. Hi LaMon, Wonderful haiku. “Anticipation” is such a great line given the first two lines. Thanks so much for sharing this and your experience with bamboo. I hope you have a good weekend.

      1. Actually, the bamboo roots in the big pot lived and this Spring new shoots appeared. An unanticipated blessing–thus the haiku as I imagined it could have been.

  1. Hi Mark,
    Can you change the font or background color on the bamboo haiku? You have white on white making it hard to read. Otherwise, I really enjoy your microseason posts and have shared them with other haiku friends.
    Thanks for all you do here.

      1. Hi Dana, Thanks for letting me know you were having a problem reading the haiku. .
        I heard from another reader that the same thing was happening to them and seems to be a current issue within the WordPress platform. It does resolves itself if you click on the heading of your mail. I am going to look into how I might be able to work around this. Thanks again for letting me know. Your support is very much appreciated!

  2. Great information about bamboo, Mark. Always learn so much from your blog.

    bamboo shoots…
    watching pandas eat
    at the zoo
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023

    ants crawl over buds
    in the garden
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023

    Not sure I captured the what-when-where form of haiku writing, regardless here are a couple haiku. http://www.nbsmithblog.wordpress.com

    1. Hi Nan, Thanks so much! There is something very soothing about the “bamboo shoots” haiku, and then the peonies! The ants in and peonies I find to be one of natures great contrasts. So perfect for haiku. Have a good weekend!

      1. Hi Mark,
        Thanks for kind comments. Yeah, it is always weird to see ants crawling over all the peony buds, but apparently it is necessary. I will have to work on this technique more, but enjoyed writing the haiku.
        Have a great weekend, too. ~Nan

      2. Great minds and all that. I got this published in Akitsu Quarterly Winter ’22

        tiny ants
        opening the peonies
        petal by petal

        It’s truly fascinating to watch.

      3. Great minds, indeed. I really like yours. It is so evocative.
        I just noticed the first of the ants on our peonies the other day, and voila! The haiku was written.

  3. Hi Mark, another wonderful post that brought back memories of using bamboo which I’ve incorporated into my haiku for this week:

    Los Angeles deck
    bamboo stick exercises

    1. Hi Tracy, Thanks for adding to the conversation and adding yet another use for bamboo! Nicely done. I hope you have a good weekend.

  4. thanks for this lovely blog and great subject that brings back so many memories for me:

    Huntington Gardens
    bamboo forest full of dates
    and carved initials

    1. Hi Kathy, I am glad that you are enjoying the blog and what a wonderful haiku! You have peaked my interest in Huntington Gardens. I will have to go look that up!

  5. throughout the day
    towering bamboo trees
    this panda’s home screen

    I took a screenshot, but I don’t see how to post it here. Some of you won’t know that my avatar on Twitter and Instagram is a happy panda. When I went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, I took a photo of a towering bamboo path to remind me to keep my inner panda’s zen.

    1. Hi Eavonka, This is wonderful! I really like the use of “home screen” in this one. I wish there was a way to attach photos because that would be great.
      Thanks again for sharing your work! I hope you have a good weekend.

      1. I took the what, when (now), where perhaps too seriously. 😂

        I’ll DM you the photo on Twitter so at least you can see it. Thanks for always brightening my Fridays.

      1. Eavonka, Up until about third grade, our school’s mascot was a panda. I still think of myself as one. I can understand your affinity for them.

  6. I love bamboo! I had the opportunity to visit a bamboo forest outside of Hiroshima once and it was wonderful. The sound of wind through a bamboo grove is considered culturally important to the Japanese Environmental agency and is on a list of 100 sounds of such importance.

    1. Hi Melanie, I need to remember that about the sound of wind through bamboo. That is pretty awesome. I feel like I need to go find a recording of that somewhere now. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Such a wonderful haiku/haiga to add to this conversation! I hope you have a good rest of your week. Thanks again for writing and sharing.

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