Brief, informal essays, usually light in tone and commonplace in theme, which flourished during the Edo period (1600-1868). The typical haibun begins with a short title followed by a prose text and generally ends with a haiku that derives from or recapitulates the sense of the prose. Since it is essentially a medium of the haiku poet, haibun shares certain haiku characteristics: ellipsis, suggestion, and the use of classical allusion. Despite its commonplace topics, haibun was enjoyed by a relatively elite audience because of its pseudoclassical diction, its endless punning, and its many recondite historical and literary allusions. Haibun writers of note include Yosa Buson (1716-84) and Yokoi Yayū (1702-83). Today, haibun is not written in any significant quantity, although it is still read and remains an object of vigorous scholarship. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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