Matsuo Basho

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Matsuo Basho, a Haiku Poet  松尾芭蕉

See below for Basho-Ki memorial day, as a kigo for haiku.
Matsuo Bashoo, Basho Matsuo, Bashoo

. Matsuo Basho - Complete Archives of the WKD .


The Japan Times: July 1, 2005 (C) All rights reserved

Walking the path of a legendary poet


A 1830s woodcut print is the image of the great haiku poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), rendered by Hasegawa Settan (1778-1843).
Depicting a legendary scene in which the poet was inspired to pen one of his masterpieces, Basho is seated at his writing desk in a humble cottage thatched with straw. A brushwood fence in the foreground on the right-hand side, moss-covered stepping stones in the garden, a pond overgrown with reeds, and stark surroundings suggested by thick horizontal lines in the background, all combine to conjure up the image of a hermit in seclusion from worldly concerns. Pausing in his work, the poet casts a glance at the pond and sees a frog leap into the water, creating ripples. This was the birth of his famous haiku:

"Listen! a frog,
Jumping into the stillness,
Of an ancient pond!"
(Translation by Dorothy Britton).

In 1680, Basho moved to Fukagawa on the east bank of the Sumida River to escape the din and bustle of Nihonbashi, near the center of the city, where he had lived for nine years. In those days, Fukagawa was a sparsely populated piece of reclaimed land beyond the boundary of Edo City.

With no bridge yet built on the Sumida, boats plied busy waterways during the day, but early in the morning and evening silence prevailed in the area and Basho could hear the gongs of temple bells ringing in Ueno and Asakusa, 4 km away. Nearby was a Zen temple, Rinsen-ji, where he was admitted to practice meditation. The whole set-up was to his taste and met his needs so Basho made Fukagawa his base in Edo until his death in 1694. It was from here that he struck out on his many travels.

He was especially pleased by a banana tree planted in the garden and used the plant name, basho, to call his cottage Basho-an. He also changed his pen name from Tosei to Basho. The plant, which had been introduced from China for medicinal purposes and to get fiber for weaving, was probably loved for the sound it made when raindrops pattered.

Our exploration of Fukagawa starts at Kiyosumi Shirakawa Station on the Hanzomon and Toei Oedo lines. Leaving the station via Exit A1, make a U-turn right to reach Mannenbashi bridge, passing the Oguruma-beya sumo stable along the way (marked by a sake keg at the front door). You might see young wrestlers out on the street after morning training.

Let us hurry to cross the bridge and look for Basho Inari-jinja shrine on a lane to the left. Though dedicated to Inari, the god of rice harvest and business prosperity, the shrine is a Tokyo Metropolitan Government-designated historic site that commemorates Basho's abode.

As Basho moved twice within Fukagawa, and the whole area underwent drastic changes in land ownership in modern times, the exact locations of all the Basho-related sites were forgotten and became difficult to determine. However, when a large tsunami hit the area in 1917, a stone frog was discovered at this spot, suggesting the possibility that his last cottage stood here, especially as the poet had a fondness for the amphibian.

Local citizens then decided to dedicate a shrine to his spirit as well as to the Inari god whose shrine was marked here on the old area map. As the original wooden building was burnt down by the 1945 air raids, they built a new one in concrete.

The poet is honored by another, more modern memorial nearby. At the end of the lane, a pocket-size park is tucked away behind a wooden gate and short flights of rugged stone steps. Ascending to an airy terrace on the very edge of the Sumida, visitors would hold their breath at the sight of Kiyosubashi Bridge straddling the broad expanse of the river water as boats passed by underneath it, with their white wakes. A bronze statue of Basho on a pedestal is installed at the center of the platform, surrounded by bamboo, banana trees and other plants that sway in the wind, as well as reproductions of Basho-themed old sketches.

After moving to Fukagawa, Basho wrote:

For nine springs and autumns, I lived austerely in the city. Now I have moved to the bank of the Fukagawa River. Someone once said,
"Since of old, Chang-an has been a place for fame and fortune, so hard for a wayfarer empty-handed and penniless."
Is it because I'm impoverished myself that I can understand this feeling?

shiba no to ni cha no konoha kaku arashi kana

Against the brushwood gate
Dead tea leaves swirl
In the stormy wind.

Tr. Makoto Ueda

This is close to a poem by Bo Juyi 白居易 Bai Juyi, Po Chu-I (772 - 846)
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. Chinese background of Japanese Haiku .


Basho Memorial Hall in Kyoto
芭蕉堂 Bashoo Doo


source : stonko14


Basho Memorial Day, kigo for early winter

also called
Winter Rain Anniversary (shigure ki 時雨忌, shigure-e 時雨会)
Old Master's Day (Okina no hi 翁の日)
Green Peach Day (Toosei ki 桃青忌) 
'Green Peach' was Basho's pen name before he choose the Banana plant, Basho.

"Basho's Day, basho-ki, 芭蕉忌

On the 12th day of the 10th lunar month of 1694 (25 November, Gregorian), Basho, the founder of haikai and haiku as we know them today, died. He was at a stopover midway on yet another journey, in Osaka, and attended by a number of disciples. Still observed according to the lunar calendar, which varies considerably from year to year with respect to the Gregorian, the date is associated with the characteristic early WINTER DRIZZLE.

In Japanese the name of an important figure followed by ki means the person's death anniversary. In English, we have sometimes used "remembered" to suggest this...
In haikai the Master's Day or Master's Anniversary (okina no ki 翁の忌) always refers to Basho's Day."
Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac by William J. Higginson
Quoted from Vanpire13

Basho choose the pen name Toosei 桃青 "Peach Green" in an allusion to his favorite Chinese poet
. Li Po, Li Bo, Li Bai 李白 "Plum White" .

MORE - hokku about shigure by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

.. .. .. .. .. .. ..

There is some dispute as to the exact day of his death.

Bashô's Memorial Day (bashooki, early winter). Day 12 of the 10th lunar month, 28 Nov 1694 Gregorian.


. tabi ni yande yume wa kareno o kakemeguru .

falling ill while travelling -
in my dreams I am wandering
over withered fields

Tr. Gabi Greve

The famous Death Haiku of Matsuo Basho, day 8 of the 10th lunar month
1694 元禄7年 10月8日
Basho had been ill since day 29 of the 9th lunar month.


tama matsuri kyō mo yakiba no kemuri kana
玉祭り 今日も焼場の 煙哉

At the festival of the spirits
And even at the crematory

Tama matsuri is a festival held to pray to, give thanks to, and appease the souls of the dead.


By Susumu Takiguchi

Basho’s Death
It is generally held that Basho died at the Saru-no-Koku (around 4 o’ clock in the afternoon) on the 12th day of the Kamina-zuki (October according to the lunar calendar) of the 7th year of the Genroku Era, or 1694. He was taken ill on his last journey in Osaka and came to the end of his 50 years of life at the house of Hanaya Nizaemon in Minami-Mido-Mae, watched by many of his disciples who hurriedly assembled at his bedside. (The equivalent date of his death according to the solar calendar is 28 November.)

There are not a few discrepancies in the Japanese kigo in terms of regional differences (space) and historical changes (time). The discrepancies caused by the change of Japanese national calendar from the lunar to solar system in 5 Meiji (1972), when 3 December was designated 1 January 1973, are the most pronounced. Even today, there are still a lot of cases of confusion in the use of these season words and those relating to the dates of death of famous literary figures are no exception. In many cases both lunar calendar date and solar calendar date are used interchangeably, though in some cases such as that of Ariwara-no-Narihira (date of death: 28 May 880 under the lunar calendar) the same date of the lunar calendar is used to celebrate his anniversary of death even under the solar calendar (i.e. 28 May).

In the case of Basho-ki, the practice is presumably mixed in the sense that some poets use the same date of the lunar calendar (12 October) even if it means that it is more than a month earlier than the precise equivalent of solar calendar (28 November). 12 of October in Japan could still be warm or even hot in some places while 28 of November could be very cold and this would give a totally different perception about the circumstances of Basho's death.

.. .. .. Basho-ki

The day of Basho’s death has been celebrated since soon after he died, and has been given various names of which Basho-ki is the most well-known. Other names include: Shigure-ki, Shigure-e, Okina-ki, Okina-no-hi, Tosei-ki, Basho-e. These are all used as kigo (early winter).

Basho-an-Kobunko, which was edited by Fumikuni and published in 9 Genroku (1696), has a memorial haiku by the editor himself:

Basho-e to moushi-some-keri zo no mae

we have started
to call it Basho-e
before his statue

Some examples of Basho-ki haiku:

Basho-ki no suzuke no hiya ya Ohmi-kabu
Mori Sumio

the cool of Ohmi turnips
pickled in vinegar

mizu-umi no samusa o shira-nu Okina-no-Ki
Takahama Kyoshi

the coldness of the lake,
on Okina-no-ki

tabi ichiya akete Okina-no-Ki nari-keri
Azumi Atsushi

one night on my journey,
I woke up to find the day was

Basho-ki ya zori ni nagomu tsuki-akari
Watanabe Suiha

the moonlight looking comfortable
on my zori sandals


. Haikai Meeting at Shioe Shayo 車庸(しやよう)
1694 (Genroku 7, on the 21st day of the ninth lunar month) in Osaka

In Kareobana 枯尾華 (Withered Plumes of Grass, 1694), his moving account of Basho's last hours, Kikaku mentioned that there were now more than twothousand disciples all over the country.
The number kept increasing, even after Basho's death, as everyone who had ever joined in making haikai poetry with even the least important of the original disciples proudly claimed to be a disciple himself. This naturally annoyed the 'direct disciples' (who probably numbered no more than sixty), and one threated to denounce all imposters.
World Within Walls
Donald Keene


Two german researchers, Udo Wenzel and Gerhard P. Peringer have found various dates for this day, for example
October 12, November 8, November 25 and November 28 of 1694

Read it all here in German:
backup copy

. - Hanaya Nizaemon 花屋仁左衛門 - .
and the death of Basho in Osaka 大坂南御堂前

. Basho's Grave at - Gichuuji 義仲寺 Temple Gichu-Ji - .



bashôki ya kotoshi mo mame de tabi-jirami

Basho's Death-Day--
another year in good health
my journey's lice

.. .. ..

okina-ki ya naniyara shaberu kado suzume

Basho's Death-Day--
what are you chattering
sparrows at the gate?

Read 17 haiku by Issa, translated by David Lanoue.


bashooki ya waga haikai no nara chameshi

Basho Memorial Day -
for our haikai meeting
rice gruel from Nara

. Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規 .   

. NARACHA 奈良茶 Basho and Haikai .   
Matsuo Basho was very fond of Naracha rice gruel.


senguu no toshi no bashooki shusubeshi

in this year of renewal of the Ise Shrine
we should celebrate
Basho's Memorial Day

Ozawa Minoru 小澤實

. WKD : Ise gosenguu 伊勢御遷宮
transposition of Ise shrine's sanctuary .

Basho was able to attend the rituals in his time !

bashooki ya roodobaiku wa nuresobotsu

Basho Memorial Day -
the road bike is dripping
from rain

Oohashi Kazue 大橋一恵

. bashooki ya mojizuri ishi wa josenchuu .

Chinen Tetsuo 知念哲夫 -
the stone in Fukushima must now be decontaminated from radioactive substances.

- reference - NHK haiku November 2013 -


Basho-ki ya zori ni nagomu tsuki-akari

Basho-Tag ...
das Mondlicht behaglich
auf meinen Strohsandalen

Watanabe Suiha, 1882 – 1946

.. .. ..

mizu-umi no samusa wo shiri-nu Okina-no-ki

ich spüre
die Kälte vom See —

des Alten Meisters Gedenktag

(Takahama Kyoshi, 1874 – 1959)

(Übersetzungen von Gabi Greve und Udo Wenzel)

ume ga ka ni notto hi no deru yamaji kana
梅が香にのっと日の出 山路かな

in the fragrance of plum blossoms
the sun comes out
on this mountain road

Click on the haiku to see the memorial stone in Doi, Okayama prefecture.

Read about the Renku Meeting Halls in Old Osaka.
Hirano Rengasho 平野連歌所

External LINK

Photos and Illustrations about Basho

WKD : More about
Matsuo Basho

Sound of Water (mizu no oto) and how to translate it ...  

Kitamuki Unchiku ... 北向雲竹 Calligraphy teacher of Basho.


. - Basho Inari Jinja 芭蕉稲荷神社 Basho Fox Shrine - .
okiwa, Koto Ward 江東区常盤1-3, Tokyo

More photos
source : tetsuyosie

. . . CLICK here for more Photos !

. - Bashō-An 芭蕉庵 Basho-An in Fukagawa 深川 - .
- - - - - and
Sekiguchi Bashoan 関口芭蕉庵 Sekiguchi Basho-An


. Basho on Stamps 切手 kitte .


under a basho ...
the old man scribbles
in the dirt

Don Baird


. Timeline - his life and work .

. Matsuo Basho - Archives of the WKD .


WKD : Matsuo Basho, the Haiku Poet



Anonymous said...

feeding on
Old Basho's legs...
evening cool

bashoo-oo no sune o kajitte yuisuzumi


by Issa, 1813

In Issa's time, the great poet of haiku, Bashoo, was called the "old man" as a term of respect and endearment.
Shinji Ogawa points out that this haiku contains the idiom, sune o kajitte, which literally means, "feed on someone's leg," but metaphorically denotes "sponging off someone or living at someone's expense."

In this scene, Issa is the mosquito feeding on "old man Basho's legs." At the time of the haiku's composition (1813), Issa's "inheritance dispute was settled" and "his status as a haiku master was well-established."

Shinji offers these possible translations:
at Maestro Basho's expense... enjoying the evening cool
being indebted to Maestro Basho...
evening cool owing Maestro Basho like the mosquito on my leg evening cool

Tr. David Lanoue http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

Anonymous said...

Oku no Hosomichi 2007

NHK program about the famous walk !


anonymous said...

Basho about Buddhism
Allan Burns at THF, Viral 6.5

“The basis of art is change in the universe.” (This aligns directly with the Buddhist concept of impermanence; Bashō is placing this concept at the center of all art.)

“The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.” (Buddhism is known as “the middle path,” and “vacuity” alludes to the concept of emptiness.)

“Once one’s mind achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object has disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived. Then express it immediately.”

“When you are composing a verse, let there not be a hair’s breadth separating your mind from what you write. Quickly say what is in your mind; never hesitate for a moment.”
(Allen Ginsberg restated that as “First thought, best thought.”)

“Composition must occur in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree, or a swordsman leaping at this enemy.”

“One needs to work to achieve enlightenment and then return to the common world.”



Anonymous said...

Sekiguchi Basho-An
At first, it was called “Ryu-in-an”, used as a house, where the most famed “Haiku” poet, Matsuo Basho lived when he involved in a water conservancy project of Kanda River there(1677-1681). Around 1726, it was renamed into Sekiguchi Basho-an and started to enshrine the statue of Matsuo Basho and his disciples. Also some of his hand-written documents were placed there in 1750.

Through its long history, having been damaged by World War II, it was destroyed and fixed up again by the Japanese Government. Sekiguchi Basho-an now is both an important historic site with traditional Japanese garden and the cultural association of Matsuo Bashou to reserve and maintain his pieces and heritage.

Reading some Haiku poems written by Matsuo Basho and going to Sekiguchi Basho-an, you may fully experience the artistic conception and realize the emotions performed in Basho’s Haiku works, as if returning to the era centuries ago.

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Shigure-Ki no hito iru mado no akari kana

前田普羅 Maeda Fura

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

bashôki no iriai ni irishi waraji kana

walking into sunset
on Basho's Death-Day...
straw sandals

(tr. David Lanoue)

Gabi Greve said...

At Kasagiyama, Kyoto

Kasagi ji ni omokage egaku Toosei ki

along the Kasagi road
there are traces of the past -
Green Peach Day

Takahama Kyoshi

. Toosei ki 桃青忌 "Green Peach Memorial Day" for Matsuo Basho .
- kigo for early winter -
MORE about the Kasagi region in Kyoto

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

shigure kome kado kara ni ken me no io

come in, winter rain--
from the corner two doors down
to my hut

This haiku has the prescript, "At Bashô's grave." The great haiku poet Matsuo Bashô was associated with winter rain. His death anniversary, which falls on the 12th day of Tenth Month, is also called "Winter Rain Anniversary" (shigure ki). Note the musical alliteration of kome kado kara ni ken.
David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

tachi tamae aki no yuube o iza saraba

let's go then
into the autumn evening
for our farewells

This haiku has the prescript, "In honor of the Old Man." "Old Man" (okina) was a nickname for the great haiku master Basho.
David Lanoue