Kinoshita Choshoshi


Kinoshita Choshoshi 木下長嘯子 / 長嘯
Kinoshita Chooshooshi

(1569 - 1649)

from 圓徳院

Seiryu-En . . . the place where long ago Kinoshita Choshoshi had his retreat.
A Momoyama waka poet, Kinoshita Choshoshi was the nephew-in-law of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and had exchanges with Confucianist Hayashi Razan, devotees of the way of tea, tea master and garden architect Kobori Enshu, as well as with many nobles of the court.

He studied waka poetry with Hosokawa Yusai, an initiate of the traditions of the Kokinshu collection of 'ancient and modern' poems.
From the early modern age to more recent times this has been the stage for such activities as the creation of paintings and literary works, or tea gatherings, and many writers and artists have gathered here.
source : www.seiryu-en.com


Ehon mushi erami 画本虫撰
Picture Book: Selected Insects

On this, the night of the fourteenth of the eighth month, the usual group of comic poets dragged one another along to listen to the voices of the insects that chirp in the fields. North from Ryogoku and east of Yoshiwara, we spread out our rugs on the embankment of the Sumida River near Iosaki, where they sell carp [and love], and tried to fix a value on the voice of each insect, high or low.

By force of circumstance we forwent wine and women, and so any females in the parties nearby must have said that we were a group of stingy worms. Intoned prayers from a nearby temple mingled faintly with the sounds of the insects, reminding us sadly of that worship hall for the princess built by Kuenshi.

We thought that it would be simply inexcusable for people to accuse us of selling old leftovers at the morning market and so, hot on the heels of the
'Poetry Contest on Various Insects'
compiled by Kinoshita Choshoshi,
we have composed playful poems on the sentiments of love. Thus we wiled away the night. Since river and mountain, wind and moon have no habitual master, there was no landlord pressing for the rent. And since there was no reception room on our grassy mat, we decided that the [singing] insects must be the true owners. Turning to face these dew-covered personages, we politely bow down low and can't stand up!
[The meaning of the last sentence is unclear.]
source : www.britishmuseum.org


. Toyotomi Hideyoshi Kinoshita 豊臣秀吉 .

Choshoshi KINOSHITA, and was a man of literature who absorbed the works of FUJIWARA no Teika.

- Reference -



Chooshoo no haka mo meguru ka hachitakaki

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 .

Written on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month, 1689 元禄2年
Basho had visited Kyorai to see the procession of the monks.
They do it for 48 days, starting on the 13th day of the 11th lunar month.

are they also walking around
the grave of Choshoshi ?
Hachitataki ceremony

Tr. Gabi Greve

. nattoo kiru oto shibashi mate hachi tataki .

. Hachi Tataki, hachitataki 鉢叩 鉢敲, 鉢扣
First yearly Memorial Service for 空也上人 Kuya Shonin .

kigo for the New Year

source : itoyo/basho

are they ranged around
Choshoshi’s grave?
bowl-slapping bretheren

Tr. Robin D. Gill

Have his rounds taken him
as far as Chooshoo's tomb? --
priest seeking alms.

Tr. Reichhold


a waka by Choshoshi


hachitataki akegata no hitokoe wa
fuyo no sae mo naku hototogisu

itinerant priest
your lone voice toward dawn -
a hotogisu
that sings
even on a winter's night

Tr. Cheryl A. Crowley


Kinoshita Katsutoshi 木下勝俊
. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

The fact that the poet Chōshōshi chose a frog to be the judge of waka written by many kinds of insects was a great honor that will surely make you, too, frog, proud as long as you live.

yuuzen to shite yama o miru kawazu kana / iuzen to

frog gazes calmly
at the mountain

This hokku is from the end of the first lunar month (February) in 1813, a few days after Issa had reached a settlement with his half brother that divided up their father's inheritance, including the family house, equally between them. The headnote refers to the famous warrior waka poet Kinoshita Chōshōshi (1569-1649), who wrote about an imaginary court waka contest between fifteen pairs of different insects, with the fifteen winners being chosen by a judge who was a large frog. The contest was published as a book, Insect Waka Contest, sometime between 1624 and 1644, and Issa must have read a copy. In the headnote he praises a frog he sees sitting calmly and gazing at a mountain in the distance. In this humorous headnote Issa tells the unmoving frog with its imposing eyes and lofty gaze how much he respects him for being a descendant of a fictional frog chosen by Chōshōshi for its ability to understand waka, thus implying that the croaking songs of this actual frog, too, are outstanding frog waka.

The gaze of the frog also has spiritual implications, as can be seen from a further allusion, this one to a poem by the Chinese poet Tao Qian (365–427), also known as Tao Yuanming. Tao Qian was a minor official who gave up his boring work and became a farmer in a country town. Strongly influenced by Daoism, he spent most of his time writing poems and drinking with his friends, and his poems give off a strong feeling of a free spirit carrying on a dialog with both nature and other free spirits. Issa alludes to the fifth poem in a series of poems entitled "Twenty Poems After Drinking Wine," a poem most of his readers would have been familiar with, since it was very famous in both China and Japan.
Since Issa refers to the whole poem, here is my translation:

I made my hut where other people dwell
and yet I hear no noise of horses or of carts.
You ask, how could this be?
My mind detached, I live in far-off places.
As I pick chrysanthemums by the eastern hedge
my calm gaze reaches a distant mountain to the south.
The mountain air is marvelous in sunset light
and birds fly back together to their nests.
Within all this are signs of the truth.
When I try to explain, I've already forgotten words.

One reason the poem is so famous is that it is able to show what it is doing even though it can't explain itself. In the fourth line the detached mind of the poet allows him to live in remote seclusion even though he lives surrounded by people in a town, and in line six "distant" returns to "detached" in line four and suggests that the detached spiritual gaze of the poet allows his mind to visit the distant mountain, causing the reader in Chinese to feel a double image in which the poet gazes at the mountain in an unattached way that allows him to travel to it. The grammar allows this double-vision to be performed by readers before they can rationally delete the second image from their minds, since normally, of course, seeing is not traveling. The next two lines further suggest that far is also near, that Tao Qian has gone to the mountains and is breathing the mountain air and viewing the sunset and birds at fairly close range. Thus Tao Qian becomes fused with the mountain, as if he were returning back to his spiritual home or "nest" there. Tao Qien leaves a further hint by having this vision occur while he is picking chrysanthemums. That is, he is only able to have visions when he isn't trying to see them, or, as the last line says, when he has forgotten words. He seems to be urging readers to leave logic and ordinary meanings behind when they read his poems. Issa was a careful reader of classical Chinese and Japanese literature, so Tao Qian's paradoxical approach was surely intuitively apparent to him.

By quoting part of Tao Qian's Chinese poem, Issa, as so often, is able to bring together opposite images or registers, here mixing vision with earthy humor, sublimity with irony. On the one hand, he praises the poetic sensibility of the frog using grandiloquent rhetoric that suggests the frog's posture is in one sense pompous and vain, while on the other hand he compare's the frog's big-eyed vision with Tao Qian's, implying that the frog has become one with the mountain it watches so intensely and that its unmoving posture suggests it is the unmoving mountain, or at least a smaller frog-mountain version of the mountain. This contradiction seems to be the point of Issa's hokku, as it is with so many of his hokku, many of which are self-ironic. The image of the frog here and the image of the returning birds in Tao Qian's poem would certainly fit with Issa's own mood after finally receiving his half of his father's house and realizing that he would soon be able to return to his hometown to live. The image of Issa talking with a frog and staring at one of the high mountains near his hometown and feeling at one with it may lie behind this hokku, as well as the image of Issa acknowledging that while his humble hokku are not as elegant as classical waka they nevertheless are capable of dealing with important aspects of everyday life that are both ridiculous and inspiring at the same time.

The above version of the hokku is found in Issa's Seventh Diary from 1813, but he uses the hokku again in Year of My Life, as if it had been written in 1819, the year evoked in Year of My Life. The hokku must have meant a lot to him, and he wanted use it again in Year of My Life after a passage about a funeral for a frog. Issa uses the same headnote about a frog judging waka in both 1813 and 1819. In Year of My Life, however, he also mentions that frogs were believed to have various spiritual and magical powers in ancient times and that he enjoys sitting together with them in the cool evening air.

Chris Drake



source : www.city.himeji.lg.jp


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .



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