Over the years, Swedish Ambassador to Japan Lars Vargo has published 15 books related to Japan, but for the past decade, his love affair with the country has largely been told in one literary form: haiku.

"I'm intrigued by the peculiarity of haiku, in which something cosmic is expressed in such a short phrase," explained Vargo, 66, in fluent Japanese.

It's that contradiction between the compactness of the 17-syllable form and the depth and breadth of expression that Vargo believes "resonates with any nationality, including the Swedes."