Günther Klinge (April 15, 1910 - May 27, 2009)

Günther Klinge was born in Berlin in 1910 and became one of the first successful representativesof international haiku in Western Europe. Besides being the president of a big pharmaceuticals company in Germany, he loved to paint, to play the violin, piano, and organ, and was an active outdoorsman.

Klinge’s true love of the arts was the reason why in April 1980 he established the Günther Klinge Award in the Bavarian municipality of Gauting for special achievements in architecture, film, literature, music, theatre, performing and visual arts. Günther Klinge was also the president of the German-Japanese Association of Bavaria, and the author of five collections of haiku and many articles. His beautifully produced volumes, in translation by the well-known nature photographer Ann Atwood in the 1970s, helped bring credibility to the idea that haiku might be pursued and appreciated in cultures outside Japan. His work also appeared in many English-language journals, including Old Pond, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, South by Southeast, Persimmon, Sparrow, and New Cicada. Günther’s haiku have a universal appeal and manage to take the reader to a very moving human journey through the different seasons and times of day.

Günther Klinge received several German awards such as the Federal Cross of Merit First Class, and the Bavarian Order of Merit. He was Honorary Senator of the Technical University of Munich and Dokkyo University in Tokyo.  But the most valuable award was the Order of the Rising Sun given to him by the Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1986.

Being an honorary citizen of Gauting and a respected patron of the arts, he died at the age of 99 years on 27 May 2009 inGrünwald, Germany.


Books and Haiku Publications:

  • (Tokio: Ryokutchi-Sha, 1973);
  • Rehe in der Nacht. Haiku -Sammlung. Hrsg. Genyoshi Kadokawa. (Tokio, Kadokawa-Shoten Verlag, 1975);
  • Drifting with the Moon [selected and adapted into English by Ann Atwood] (Rutland, Vt.: C. E. Tuttle Co., 1978);
  • Haiku-Sammlung Den Regen Lieben - Dai 3 Kushu Ame Itoshi. Japanese & German (Tokyo : Kadokawa Shoten, 1978);
  • Day Into Night: A Haiku Journey [selected and adapted into English by Ann Atwood] (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1980);
  • Morgengang im Wald. Haiku -Sammlung. (Tokyo, Ryokuchi-Sha 1980);
  • Der Zukunft vertrauen: ein Jahreszyklus in deutschen Haiku / ausgewählt und mit einem Essay von Volker Michels. (Sigmaringen : Thorbecke, 1981);
  • Im Kreis des Jahres [photographs by Ann Atwood] (Innsbruck, 1982);
  • Bilder und Worte (Munich, 1990);
  • Steingartenstille. Deutsch-japanische Haiku-Sammlung, (München, Haiku Verlag, 1990);
  • Eine kleine Sicherheit: Gedichte (Munich,1995).


Selected poems:

"Herbsttage rollten

wie Perlen einer Kette,

deren Band zerriss"

Autumn days rolled

like pearls on a chain,

whose band tore"


A woman knitting

in the doctor’s waiting room.

The darkness falling


Gentle Sunday rain

on the bodies of two cats

pushed to the roadside


Remembered music

out of the winter twilight.

The organ grinder


They enter with me

through the church’s open door —

a few coloured leaves


Time of the magic

that brings the forest colour.

Time of the hunter


Today it struck me —

the thought of red suns setting

after I am gone


Taking my sorrow

into the quiet forest.

The light on the leaves.