Showing posts with label Z - TOPIC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Z - TOPIC. Show all posts


Cultural Keywords


- Cultural Keywords used by Basho -

During his many travels around Japan, Basho came to know different places, different regional food, different legends, customs and festivals.

He also wrote about animals and plants, implying his friends or famous people from the past.

In his hokku and travel diaries he introduced many items casually, since they were usually known to his fellow poets of the Edo period.
Some of the themes he introduced are kigo.

But for readers coming from other cultures, most of these words need a special explanation before the hokku can be understood in its proper cultural environment.

Here I will try to list the most important ones,
Basho being my guide to Japanese Culture and the early Edo period.

This is the most important collection
of my Basho Archives of the WKD.

. Basho travelling / traveling in Japan .
utamakura 歌枕 place names used in Japanese poetry

Mit Basho durch die Kultur Japans reisen!


In one of his most famous theoretical statements, Basho says,
“Learn about pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.”
Each pine exhibits pineness but is not pineness itself: each pine alludes to, or is symbolic of, the essence of pine.

Contemporary writers may find Basho’s statement confusing. To use the Western terminology of essence we see in Reichhold and many modern Western haiku commentators, even the essence of pine is not the same as the essence of being. The essence of things is not located within the thing itself. The is-ness of a thing is not to be gained through attention to the thing alone. Indeed, is-ness is not the same as the “thingness” of a thing.

Barnhill says that in his travels Basho pursued
 “the wayfaring life in order to embody physically and metaphorically the fundamental character of the universe.”
He visits places “loaded” with cultural and spiritual significance and his sense of “nature” is bound up with these traditions of place. This intertwining of place and significance, the local and the transcendental, is basic to Basho’s experience. The centrality of “place names” or utamakura is basic to Basho’s outlook.
Barnhill says,
“Basho tended to write of places in nature handed down through literature,
giving cultural depth to his experience of nature.”

source : JAMIE EDGECOMBE, 2011

. learn from the pine - - - said my American haiku friends. .  

This is a still growing list. Please come back again.
under construction

Matsuo Basho and the Culture of the Genroku Period

Genroku 元禄
September 1688 - March 1704
The years of Genroku are generally considered to be the Golden Age of the Edo Period. The previous hundred years of peace and seclusion in Japan had created relative economic stability. The arts and architecture flourished.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. Edo Haikai 江戸俳諧 Haiku and Hokku .


. ama 海女 woman divers and 海士 fishermen .

. ama 尼 Buddhist Nun .

. Amida 阿弥陀 Amida Buddha - Amidaboo 阿弥陀坊  Amidabo . ###

. an 庵 thatched hut - yado 宿 my humble abode .

. asunaroo, asunarō 翌檜 Asunaro Hinoki cypress .

. aware 哀れ Basho feels the pathos of things .

. bantaroo 番太郎 flood warden in Edo .

. - Basho about Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - .
Enjoy the life of a haikai master in the Edo period.

. betsu zashiki 別座敷 detached sitting room .
(also the title of one of his hokku collections)

. biwa 琵琶 lute Biwako 琵琶行 a Chinese poem .

. bunko 文庫 library *.

. byoobu 屏風 Byobu, folding screen * .

. cha 茶 tea, green tea - Tee ### .

. chatsumi 茶摘み picking tea leaves * .

. chausu, cha usu 茶臼 tea-grinding mill * .

. chigo 稚児 children temple acolytes *.

. chigozakura, chigo-zakura 児桜 - famous cherry tree in Akita * .

. Chikusai 竹斎 Doctor Chikusai *.
A shabby doctor and his travelling stories

. dairibina  内裏雛 "Emperor Dolls" for the Hina Doll Festival * .

. doyoo boshi 土用干し airing during dog days * .

. Ebisukoo, Ebisu koo 恵比寿講 Ebisu Ceremony Group * .

. . Edo 江戸 the Samurai Capital ### . .
- - - - - . Edo miyage 江戸土産 souveniers from Edo .

- - - FOOD and DRINK - - - ###

. fude 筆 brush for writing *.

. furiuri, furi-uri 振売 peddlers, hawkers, salesmen *.
bootefuri 棒手振り peddlers with a pole on the shoulders

. furumono dana 古物棚 dealer of old things . *

. - furusato ふるさと 故郷、古里 home village, home town - *.
- hitosato 一里 and shison 子孫 "children and grandchildren"
- sato 里 sato, village, Heimat
- yamazato 山里 mountain village
A most important emotional place for the Japanese.

. futon 蒲団 Japanese bedding. mino futon 三幅布団 / 三布蒲団 narrow matress * .

. futsukayoi 二日酔い/ 宿酔 hangover * .

. fuuga, fūga 風雅 Fuga. elegance, refinement - Aesthetics and Basho * .
- - - - - and
fuuryuu, fūryū 風流 Furyu. elegance, refinement
- - - - fuukyoo, fûkyô  風狂 FUKYO, poetic eccentricity
. fuuryuu no hajime ya Oku no taue uta .
poetic venture, beginning of all art

. fuugetsu, fūgetsu 風月 the beauty of nature * .
lit. "wind and moon"

. fuyugomori 冬篭り winter seclusion, winter confinement * .
- - - - - sashikomoru さしこもる (鎖し籠もる)

. ganjitsu 元日 first day of the year * .

. ge 夏 summer retreat * .

. geta 下駄 wooden sandals, clogs *.

. gobyoo 御廟 imperial mausoleum * .
imperial tomb of Godaigo Tenno 後醍醐帝御廟, Yoshino, Emperor Go-Daigo

. goki ichigu 五器一具 one set of begging bowls * . - - - goki 御器 hitosoroi 一揃い

. goten 御殿 palace, manor - tonozukuri 殿造り *.


. haikai 俳諧 - hokku 発句 - words used in his poems ! * .

. hachi takaki, hachitataki 鉢叩き ceremony for Saint Kuya 空也上人 * .

. hakama 袴 Hakama formal trouser skirt * .

. hakamairi 墓参り visiting graves at O-Bon * .

. hakkei 八景 Eight Views, eight famous scenic spots * .

. haori 羽織 Japanese coat * .

. haritate, hari tate 針立 acupuncture needle * .

. hatsugatsuo, hatsu gatsu (katsuo 初鰹) first skipjack bonito of the season * .

. - hatsumono 初物 First Things, New Things - * .

. hatsu-uma 初午 first day of the horse * . at a fox shrine

. hei 塀 / hei no yane 塀の屋根 wall with a roof * .

. heso no o, hozo no o 臍の緒 umbilical cord * .

. Hida no takumi 飛騨の工 / 飛騨の匠 craftsman from Hida * .

. Hie oroshi, hieoroshi 日枝颪 wind from Mount Hieizan * .

. hijiri, hijiri kozoo 聖小僧 mendicant monk, "holy man" * .
Basho himself was on a kind of "hijiri" life, travelling all over Japan, without a regular home.

. himuro 氷室 (ひむろ) icehouse, ice cellar * .

. hinokigasa 檜木笠 hat made of cypress bark * .

. hioke 火桶 "fire box", brazier * .

. hoiro 焙炉 stove to dry green tea leaves * .

. - - - Hokku and Haikai 発句と俳諧 - - - . *

. hokutoo 北斗 the Big Dipper, the Plough * .

. hoorai kazari 蓬莢飾 / 蓬莱 Horai-decoration for New Year * .

. hotarumi 蛍見 watching fireflies - hotaru 螢 * .

. hotoketachi 仏達 Buddha statues * .

. hoya 穂屋 "shrine hut with a thatched wall" *.


. ichi 市 market, shiwasu no ichi 師走の市 december market, toshi no ichi 年の市 Year-End Market * .

. imayoo 今様 popular songs * .

. imo no kami 痘瘡の神 deity of smallpox * .

. iori, an 庵, yado 宿 my humble abode, thatched hut ###.

. iroha 色葉 colored leaves or いろは, the Japanese alphabet * .

. irori 囲炉裏 sunken hearth, fireplace * .

. isaribi, kagaribi 漁り火 fire to lure fish * .

. Izumo no kami 出雲守 / Hitomi Izumo no Kami 人見出雲守 mirror maker * .

. jinbe, jinbei 甚平 light summer robe * .

. joo, jō, kusari 鎖 chain, used to lock * .

jooroku 丈六 Joroku Buddha Statue * .


. kabuto 甲 / 兜 / 冑 helmet of a samurai *.
famous helmet of Saito Sanemori 斉藤実盛,

. kadomatsu 門松 pines at the gate / matsukazari 松飾り * .

. kagami 鏡 mirror * .

. kagemachi, kage machi 影待ち waiting for sunrise *.

. kakine 垣根 hedge, fence . *

. kamado, hettsui, hetui, hetsui 竃 / 竈 kitchen stove * .
- - - - - niwakamado, niwa kamado 庭竃 / 竈 // kama 釜 iron pot for cooking

. - kami 神 Shinto deities - ### .

. kamigaki 神垣 "Fence of the Gods", fence of a Shinto shrine * .

. kamiko 紙子 paper robes * .

. kami no kao 一言主 face of the deity Hitokotonushi *.

. Kanbutsu-e, Kanbutsu 潅仏会: Buddha's Birthday Celebrations * .

- kane 鐘 bell, temple bell, sunset bell - *

. Kannon Bosatsu 観音菩薩 and Asakusa Kannon 浅草観音 Temple . *

. kapitan カピタン Kapitein, Captain, Dutch Delegation . *

. karahafu, kara hafu 唐破風 Chinese cusped gable . *

. karakasa からかさ / 傘 oil-paper umbrella with a bamboo frame . *

. karakoromo, karagoromo, kara koromo から衣 / 唐衣  robes from China . *

. karo toosen 夏炉冬扇 to be useless - like a stove in summer, a handfan in winter . *

. kasa 笠 bamboo hat, straw hat, traveller's hat . ###

. katabira 帷子 light linen dress . *

. katsuo uri 鰹売 vendor of skipjack, bonito fish monger * .

. kawara 瓦 roof tiles - いらか iraka roof tiles * .

. kawauso no matsuri, kawa uso 獺の祭 Otter Festival at Seta . *

. kazarinawa, kazari nawa 飾縄 rope decoration for New Year * .

. keshizumi 消炭 (けしずみ) ash to extinguishing the fire / sumi 炭 ash . *

. - - kigo and kidai 季語(季題)theory of season words - - .

. kinuta 砧 fulling block * .

. - - kire 切れ and kireji 切字 - - cut and cut markers - .

. koma 駒 - uma 馬 - Japanese horses . ###
- - - - - komamukae, koma mukae 駒迎へ selecting tribute horses for court

. kometsuki 米搗き professional rice grain pounder . *

. komo 薦 straw mat . *

. komorido 籠人 / 籠り人 person in retreat . *
- at temple Hasedera, Nara 長谷寺

. kooshi goosu, gabushi 合子 - furugooshi 古合子 set of food bowls . *

. koromogae 衣替え, 衣かへ  changeing robes for summer . *

. koshi no wata 腰の綿, 腰綿 "cotton wrapper around my hips" . *

. kosode 小袖 short-sleeved kimono . *

. kotatsu 炬燵 Kotatsu heater - okigotatsu 置炬燵 . *

. koto 琴  Koto zither / kotobako 琴箱 box for a koto . *

. kuchikiri, kuchi kiri kuchikiri 口切 opening a new jar of tea * .

. Kumasaka Choohan 熊坂長範 Kumasaka Chohan . ###

. kunichi 九日 okunichi "Honorable Day with a Nine" . * - Chrysanthemum festival

. kura 蔵 storehouse, warehouse . *

. kusamakura, kusa makura 草枕 pillow stuffed with grass . ###

. Kutsuki bon 朽木盆 tray from the Kutsuki region . *

. kyooku 狂句 Kyoku - comic verse, crazy verse . *

. - Kyooto 京都 Kyoto, Kyo - Miyako 都 / みやこ - .


. machi ishi, machiichi, machi isha 町医師 doctor in town . *
- - - kusuri nomu 薬飲む  drinking medicine

. makie, maki-e 蒔絵 gold-silver laquer work . ###

. makuwa melon 真桑瓜 makuwa uri . *
with painted faces on "princess Melon" 姫瓜 hime uri

. manzai 万歳 Manzai performance . *

. masu 枡  measuring box . *
- - - . masu 升 container for ritual sake .

. matsukazari 松飾り "pine decroation" * .

. mayuhaki, mayu haki  眉刷毛  eyebrow brush . *

. meido めいど / 冥土 / 冥途 nether world, world of the dead . *

. men 面 - 能面 Noh mask . *

. mino to kasa 蓑と笠 Mino straw raincoat and rain hat . *
- - - - - . minomushi 蓑虫 bagworm  . *

. misogi 御祓 summer purification . *

. miyamori 宮守 shrine warden . *

. mochibana, mochi-bana 餅花 New Year decorations . * - lit. "mochi flowers"

. momi suru 籾する hulling rice, polishing rice . *
- - - - - Momi suru Oto 籾する音 The Sound of Hulling Rice

. - mu 無 emptiness - nothingness - kyo 虚 emptiness . *

. mushiro 筵 takamushiro 簟 bamboo floor mat to sleep on . *


. nagezukin, nage zukin 投頭巾 square hood . *
and - maruzukin, maru zukin 丸頭巾 

. nanshoku、danshoku 男色 homosexuality . *

. Naracha 奈良茶 Nara rice gurel and the importance of haikai 俳諧 . *

. nattoo 納豆 Natto, fermented sticky soy beans * .

. nazuna なづな摘み Nazuna seven herbs of spring, Shepherd's purse, nazuna 薺 . *

. nebutsu, nenbutsu 念仏 Nembutsu, Prayer to Amida Buddha . *

. Nehanzoo 涅槃像 -Nehan-e 涅槃会 Statue of Buddha lying down . *
and juzu 数珠 rosary beads

. nenohi, ne no hi 子の日 day of the rat . *

. nijuushichiya 二十七夜 moon on day 27 . *

. noren, nooren, nōren 暖簾 door curtain . *

. noo 能 Noh theater and Matsuo Basho . *

. nori no matsu 法の松 "pine of the Buddhist law". Dharma pine * .

. nukamiso tsubo 糠味噌壷 pot for fermented Miso paste . *
- - - konuka 粉糠 fermented miso paste


. oi 笈 backpack of the Edo period . *

. okoraago 御子良子 Okorago, Shrine maidens at Ise . *

. omeikoo 御命講 Omeiko Ceremony for Saint Nichiren . *

. omizutori, O-mizutori お水取り water-drawing ritual . *
- mizutori 水取り in Nara

. onozumi, Ono-zumi 小野炭 charcoal from Ono . *

. onsen 温泉 hot spring . *
He visited quite a few, like Kusatsu and Nasu Yumoto.
yu no nagori 湯の名残り / yu o musubu 湯をむすぶ

. oogi, ōgi 扇 handfan - karo toosen 夏炉冬扇 . *

. oomigaya 近江蚊帳 kaya mosquito net from Omi . *

. Ootsu 大津絵 Otsu-e paintings from Otsu town . *


. Persons and People - names in his hokku .

. Places, place names in his hokku .


. ran, ran no ka 蘭の香 Japanese orchids and their fragrance . *

. Rashoomon 羅生門 Rashomon Gate, Kyoto . *

. rendaino 蓮台野 graveyard * .

. robiraki 炉開き "opening the hearth" . *
for the Tea Ceremony

. roosaibushi, rōsaibushi 弄斎節 rosai-bushi, Rosai song . *


. Saga no take 嵯峨の竹 bamboo from Saga . *

. sakura asa, sakura-asa 桜麻 "cherry-blossom hemp" . *

. sarabachi 皿鉢 plates and bowls . *

. saru hiki , saruhiki 猿引 monkey trainer . *

satori 悟り  - Zen enlightenment
. satoranu さとらぬ no enlightenment, unenlightened . *

. seki 関 checkoint, sekimori 関守 checkpoint warden . *

. sekizoro 節季候 Year End Singers, December Singers . *

. semigoromo, semi-goromo 蝉衣 thin "cicada robe" for summer . *

. senkoo 線香 incense . *

. shakan, sakan 左官 plasterer . *

. shamisen, samisen 三味線 Japanese lute . *

. shikishi 色紙 decoration card with poem . *

. shime 七五三, shimenawa 注連縄 a sacred rope . *

. shinobuzuri, shinobu-zuri しのぶ摺 / 忍ぶ 綟摺り fern cloth-printing or mottling . *

. shiro 城 castle, shiro ato 城跡 castle ruins / yamashiro 山城 mountain castle . *

. shisoku 紙燭 torch lamp with paper shade . *

. shizu 賎 person of low social standing . *

. shoshun, hatsu haru 初春 "First spring", the New Year . *

. - soo, sō 僧 monk, Buddhist priest - . *

. sumoo 相撲 Sumo wrestling . *

. susu harai (susuharai) 煤払い  end of year housecleaning . *

. suzuri 硯 inkstone / suzuribako 硯箱 box for the inkstone . *


. tachi 太刀 large sword . *

. take 茸 mushrooms - (ki no ko, kinoko 茸, 菌) . *

. takimono 薫物、たきもの burning incense . *

. takotsubo 蛸壺 octopus pot . *

. tamamatsuri, tama matsuri 玉まつり / 魂祭, 玉祭 festival for the souls, O-Bon . *

. tamasudare たますだれ / Nanjing Tamasudare (玉簾/珠簾) performance with bamboo sticks . *

. tamuke 手向け offering at a grave or temple . *

. tan 反, 段(たん)unit of measurement . *

. Tanabata 七夕 Star Festival - 天の川 Amanogawa . *

. taru 樽 barrel - taue daru 田植樽 . *
sake barrel offered at the end of the rice planting.

. tatami 畳 floor mats . *

. taue uta 田植えうた song of the rice planters . *

. Teikin Oorai, ōrai 庭訓往来 Teikin Orai textbooks * .

. tenbin 天秤  pair of scales . *

. tenugui 手ぬぐい small hand towel . *

. tera 寺 Buddhist temples visited by Basho . *

. tsue 杖 walking stick, cane. Wanderstock . *

. tsukigane つき鐘 temple bell . *


. ubune boat 鵜船 for cormorant fishing . *

. ukihito 憂き人 person with elegant feelings of fuuga 風雅 . *

- ukiyo 浮世 the floating world -

. umakata 馬方 horse owners . ###
transport and travel along the Tokaido road

. Urashima Taroo 浦島太郎 The legend of Urashima Taro .*

. usu 臼 different types of mortars, grinders and hand mills . *

. utabukuro 歌袋 bag to keep poetry, poem-pouch, song-pouch . *

. uzumibi, uzumi-bi 埋火 banked charcoal fire . *


. waraji, waranji 草鞋 straw sandals and geta clogs . *

. wara 藁, shinwara 新藁 new straw . *

. wata 綿 cotton plants, watabatake 綿畠 cotton fields . *
- - - - - watayumi, wata yumi 綿弓 cotton bow

. yado fuda, yadofuda, shukusatsu 宿札 - visitor sign of a lodging . *

. yakko 奴 Yakko servant . *

. yamabushi 山伏  mountain ascetics . *

. yamagatsu 山賤 / 山賎 (やまがつ) forest workers, woodcutters, loggers . *

. yanagigoori 柳行李 Yanagigori, wicker trunk . *
koori, katani 行李片荷 carrying boxes for travellers

. yarido 遣り戸, 鑓戸, 槍戸 wooden sliding door . *

. yashikigata, yashiki-gata 屋敷方 living in a samurai residence (yashiki) . *

. yogi 夜着 bedtime quilt . *

. yoki hi よき日 - nichi nichi kore yoki hi 日々是好日 Every Day is a Good Day . *

. yojoohan 四畳半 four and a half tatami room . *

. yome ga kimi 嫁が君 first mouse of the year . *

. yomo 四方 the four directions / The Four Directions 東西南北 . *

. yotsu goki 四つ五器 4 or 5 bowls for wandering monks . *

. yukimaruge, yuki maruge 雪丸げ, yuki Daruma 雪だるま snowman . *

. yuujo, yūjo 遊女 whore, whores, prostitute *

. zashiki 座敷 "sitting room", visitor's room - natsu zashiki 夏座敷 . *

. zatoo 座頭 blind person . *

. Zen - 芭蕉の禅修行 Zen Training and Basho .
- - - - - - Read: : The Haiku Apprentice - Haiku, Basho and Zen

. zoori 草履 straw sandals . *


Kulturelle Schlüsselworte

All festivals and dates relate to the Asian lunar calendar.

WKD : The Asian Lunar Calendar Reference

. WKD : Main Index .


Join with your own cultural keywords!

. Haiku - Culture Magazine - .




haikai and uso

. Hokku and Haikai 発句と俳諧 - Introduction .

- haikai 俳諧 Haikai and uso - a poetic "lie" - lying skillfully

Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 advises his disciples

"The poetic mind must always remain detached (mujo) and eccentric (kyoken).
The thematic materials must be chosen from ordinary life.
The diction must be entirely from everyday language."

source : Peipei Qiu: Basho and the Dao

. Hokku and Haikai 発句と俳諧 - Introduction .


The new discussion started on facebook with a quote by Makoto Ueda and the quest for its Japanese origin.

- source : michael.dylan.welch/ posts -

“The art of poetry lies simply in the skillful telling of a lie.”

Bashō (translated by Makoto Ueda, from
“The Nature of Poetry: Japanese and Western Views,”
Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature #11, supplement, 1962, 142–148)
- Graceguts - How Do You Write Haiku?
- source : Graceguts -

The original Japanese is attributed to Matsuo Basho.
There are  variousJapanese  versions to be found googeling.
(I have no library close at hand and rely on google,
so this is not a scholarly treatise, but a little snooping around, which anyone can do.)

俳諧といふは別の事なし. 上手に迂詐(うそ)をつくことなり.
haikiai to iu wa betsu no koto nashi. joozu ni uso o tsuku koto nari.

This (abbreviated) quote is attributed to Basho, in a publication by his disciple Shiko
Haikai juuron 俳諧十論 Haikai Juron, Ten arguments about Haikai
published in 1719 by 支考 Shiko.
The full quote is the following:


The old master said:
Haikai is not something special, it is to tell a lie gracefully / skillfully.
But do not explain this to people who do not understand the real from the fake.
This is only a "swing with one sword" for the disciples of Basho.

Tr. Gabi Greve

. Kagami Shikoo 各務支考 Kagami Shiko .
1665 - 1731

- Other versions of the Japanese found googeling:
俳諧といふは別の事なし, 上手に迂詐(うそ)をつくことなり
俳諧といふは別(格別)の事なし。 上手に迂詐(うそ)をつく事なり


- quote by Jeff Robbins -
Basho on How to Make a Haiku
 17 statements from his letters and spoken word
Translations and Commentary by Jeff Robbins / Assisted by Sakata Shoko

1 Settling for standards and searching for reason places one in the middle grade of poets; one who defies standards and forgets reason is the wizard on this path.
2 Without a sense for how to use ordinary words, you will get mixed up in oldness.
3 Poetry benefits from the realization of ordinary words (Haikai wa eki no zokugo o tadasu nari)
4 Know that a poem combines things . . . Poetry is the experience of the heart which goes and returns.
5 “The skillful have a disease; Let a three-foot child get the poem.
6 Only this, apply your heart to what children do.
7 “As I gained some feeling for the rhythm in this verse on blossom-viewing, I made Lightness.”
8 Now in my heart the form of poetry is as looking into a shallow stream over sand with Lightness both in the body of the verse as well as in the Heart’s connection
9 Do not allow your verse to be artificial.
10   The verse HOARSE SHRIEK is Kikaku.
‘Gums of salted bream’ is the poetry of my old age.
The lower segment, “A fish store,”saying only that, is my style.
11 In the verses of other poets is too much making and the heart’s immediacy is lost. What is made from the heart is good; the product of words shall not be preferred.
12 A stanza may have extra sounds, 3, 4, even 5 or 7; if the phrase has good resonance, it is okay – however if even one sound stagnates in your mouth, scrutinize the expression.
13 This is a path of a fresh lively taste with aliveness in both heart and words.
14 According to your various talents, make the verse from your heart, whether linked verse or haiku, neither heavy nor merely spinning about.
15 In poetry is a realm which cannot be taught. You must pass through it yourself. Some poets have made no effort to pass through, merely counting things and trying to remember them. There was no passing through the things.
16 “To have the little boy stand out in relation to the daikon-gathering was the making of this verse”.
17 The physical form, first of all, must be graceful, then the musical quality makes a superior verse.

- - - - - read the explanations here:
- source : - Jeff Robbins -


- - - - - Chris Drake explains :

Shiko on Basho --
From the fourth essay in Ten Essays on Haikai (Haikai jūron 1719) by Kagami Shikō (1665-1731):

Master Basho said, "Haikai is in fact a matter of lying skillfully." He thereby expressed something very basic about haikai. Basho's followers put great stress on this principle, but it should not be taught to those who do not understand how to freely use both emptiness (kyo 虚) and actuality (jitsu 実) in their haikai. It is easy for people to misunderstand when they hear the words emptiness and actuality, so these two terms must be understood in depth during discussions with a haikai teacher. This is essential for those who would follow the Way of haikai. Some people who know nothing of the Way of haikai go out at night to have a good time, and they tell lies they know are not true. These people believe their words are lies and what they think in their minds is the truth, so the lies they tell are nothing more than attempts to trick or deceive people....


Note: the phrase "a single-swing sword" (一振刀) is a metaphorical expression meaning to put great stress or emphasis on something important or to concentrate all your power on doing something important. Samurai sought to cut down their enemies by concentrating their minds and making a single powerful swing of their carefully sharpened sword. Despite what is shown in samurai movies, samurai swords were extremely sharp only for the first swing, and after a few swings they became too blunt for their purpose. Shiko doesn't seem to be implying anything martial here, since the metaphorical phrase was a common one.


Kagami Shiko was one of Basho's leading followers and probably the best one at writing poetic theory as opposed to transmitting Basho's own words. This passage is taken out of context in a complex treatise, so my translation adds a few words to fill in the context that Shiko's readers would have had in mind. The word translated as lies (uso) is a common colloquial word for just that, but Shiko argues that there are different kinds of lies and that poetic lies are a form of emptiness (kyo 虚), a concept in Shiko's philosophy that is placed in opposition to actuality (jitsu 実), an opposition that is linked to a whole series of oppositions, including lies and truth, fiction and reality, language and physical reality, the invisible and the visible, infinite and finite, formlessness and form. Shiko practiced Zen, and he sometimes suggests parallels between emptiness (kyo) and Buddhist emptiness (kū 空) as well as 'nothing, none, not, no' (mu 無), a term used in Daoism and Zen. Therefore he also stresses that haikai poets should have empty or emptied minds when they write. Shiko was also trying to develop the distinction between emptiness and actuality that was used in medieval Chinese poetics, especially as represented in the Santeishi (or Santaishi), the Three Forms of Chinese Shi Poetry (Santi shi), an anthology that was popular among Japanese Zen monks and was read by Basho. The poems in this anthology were arranged not only according to their form but also according to how empty or actual they were. In the anthology actual meant poems or lines in poems about the outside world using natural description and concrete details, while empty poems or poetic lines were those that expressed inner feelings, moods, and thoughts with no tangible shape or form. Shiko developed this opposition dialectically and argued that all poems were combinations of both emptiness and actually, although he, and apparently Basho, felt that emptiness was the most important and was the source of creativity for both subjective and objective poetry. Thus haikai poets had to start from selfless feelings or thoughts and, after they had reached a state of selflessness, engage in description or evocation of the world of physical form and objects.

The quote from Shiko refers back to the preceding section of the treatise, which discusses the history of Japanese poetry. Shiko quotes both Chinese poetry as well as the kana preface to the early medieval Kokinshū waka anthology in order to show how waka are able to express deep emotions and move all kinds of readers, and he goes on to discuss two very early waka from the Man'yōshū anthology period. In the first an emperor writes as he were in a rural hut, and in the second an empress writes as if the early summer flowers on a mountain were a great robe. Neither of the waka could be actual, Shiko points out, and they gain their power because the poems are empty -- that is, they are fictional and use figures of speech to achieve their effect. The word Shiko uses for fiction is emptiness (kyo), a word which is used in kyogen (虚言), a Sino-Japanese word for lies, which literally means 'empty words.' Pivoting on this word that Shiko uses to mean both 'lies' and 'verbal fiction,' Shiko quotes Basho as saying that poetry in China and Japan is the art of lying skillfully. Thus, in Shiko's account, Basho is stressing that haikai is one important genre of world and Japanese poetry and not just a playful game indulged in by renga poets in their spare time, as it had been until the middle of the 17th century. Basho isn't talking about haikai's uniqueness here but about what it shares with Chinese poetry, waka, and renga and about its ability to draw on and evoke strong emotions and moods even when it makes realistic descriptions of nature. The end of the passage quoted above clearly distinguishes poetic lies and fictions, including metaphor and allegory, from ordinary lies made to deceive others, and Shiko associates poetic lies with the whole realm of invisible human emotion and thought, which can be suggested with descriptions in "empty" language of the actual world, the realm of form, shape, and visibility. All of these meanings are extensions of the word "lies" in Basho's statement, which also suggests a break with earlier haikai, which Basho felt depended too much on unimaginative "actual" description, artificial concepts, and wordplay rather than on spiritual depth. With Basho, Shiko asserts, haikai has become a high literary art on the same level as other Japanese and Chinese poetic genres.

Although Basho's teaching recalls Aristotle's statement that Homer taught poets how to lie skillfully, it most probably goes back to ancient Chinese Daoism, which recognized that 'allegories,' a term for fiction in general, could suggest deep spiritual truths. Basho's words also show that he recognized haikai were not simply utterances but involved a "willing suspension of disbelief" by both the writer and the reader. Coleridge was writing about prose fiction when he made that description, but in Basho's and Shiko's conception, good haikai, too, required a kind of suspension of ordinary beliefs and common sense in order to achieve the imaginative intensity felt by readers as a sense of being alive or of being present at the site of an action or a moving natural scene. That is why Shiko often stresses that actuality can occur in poetry only after a state or sense of emptiness or fictionality has been achieved first, a relationship summed up by his phrase "emptiness first, actuality later" (虚先実後). Basho himself used a different phrase: fūga no makoto, truth revealed through poetic art. Not all Basho's hokku are fictional to the same degree, of course, but many of his most famous hokku are deeply fictional. Just a couple of examples:

octopus pot --
fleeting dreams beneath
the summer moon

takotsubo ya hakanaki yume o natsu no tsuki

silence --
cicada cries
penetrate the rocks

shizukasa ya iwa ni shimi-iru semi no koe

In the first hokku a special pot lies in shallow water near the shore. Attached to it is a rope, and soon a fisherman will pull up both the pot and the unsuspecting small octopus inside it. The pot is visible in the bright moonlight, and Basho imagines the fate of the small octopus which has entered the pot seeking safety and is now dreaming peaceful dreams, not knowing what will soon happen. The octopus' short dreams and its pitifully short remaining life are even more moving since nights are so short in summer. The short nights and the imagined dreams of the octopus suggest Basho's pity not only for the octopus but also for himself and other mortal humans who are caught in an all too similar situation amid the rapid passage of time and the impermanence of all things and all human activities. While some of the suggestion of this hokku might also be evoked by a painter, with the moon suggesting enlightenment, the hokku has its strongest effects on an "empty" emotional and spiritual level.

The second hokku was written at Ryūshakuji Temple in northern Honshu when Basho made his journey along the narrow roads of the north. The temple is located high on the slope of a mountain and is flanked by several rock cliffs which have many cracks and hollows in them. The hokku is not a naturalistic description of the cliffs, however, but a meditation on emptiness. The cries of the countless cicadas make the mountain silence seem even deeper. The cries no doubt penetrate through Basho as well, and the sound of the cicadas can be felt as a vibration field linking all living and even "non-living" things, such as rocks. Much can be said about this hokku, and it seems to be a good example of the kind of lies or emptiness Basho and Shiko are talking about.

Chris Drake, May 2016


The Japanese quote talks about haikai 俳諧.
The question is:
Does the English version The art of poetry express this meaning?
At the time of Basho, other kind of poetry was also written in Japan, for example Waka and Court Poetry.

Basho was not talking about Waka or other kinds of poetry.
And the translation of USO 迂詐 is quite problematic, a "poetic falsification,, poetic beautification" . . . maybe.


uso 迂詐 / うそ USO

う【迂】[漢字項目] - u
[人名用漢字] [音]ウ(呉)(漢)
1 遠回りする。「迂遠・迂回・迂曲・迂路」
2 世事にうとい。「迂闊(うかつ)・迂愚」
3 自分を謙遜していうときに冠する語。「迂生」
- source : デジタル大辞泉の解説 -

さ【詐】[漢字項目]- sa
[常用漢字] [音]サ(漢) [訓]いつわる あざむく

(a) fraud; 〔金などをだまし取ること〕swindling, a swindle; 〔他人を装って〕(an) imposture
commit fraud/practice deception ((on a person))
- source : デジタル大辞泉の解説 -


uso 嘘 うそ【嘘】
1 〔真実でないこと〕a lie, an untruth; 〔軽いうそ〕a fib うその|false; untrue 見え透いた[もっともらしい]うそ|a transparent [plausible] lie
- - - - - more English samples on this page.
- source : -


うそ / 嘘 uso
..... ゾウや小人などの想像上の友だちと空想のなかで遊ぶ(イマジナリー・コンパニオンimaginary companion)という例も子供では珍しくないが、これも願望充足に属するものであろう。
- - - - - continue reading here
- source : -

うそ - uso - related to usu, thin
1 薄い意を表す。「うそ霞(がすみ)」「うそ雲」
2 少し、少ない、の意を表す。「うそ黄」「うそ暗い」「うそ笑む」
3 なんとなく、どことなく、の意を表す。「うそ寒い」「うそ寂しい」「うそ腹立つ」
- source : -


昭:あきらか (to make clear and visible)
- source : -


. Hokku and Haikai 発句と俳諧 - Introduction .

. Cultural Keywords used by Basho .

. - KIGO used by Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - .

- #haikai #usolies #makotoueda -


Oku no Hosomichi


- Oku no Hosomichi - 奥の細道 - おくのほそ道
The Narrow Road to the Deep North -

Narrow road to the interior
Back Roads To Far Towns

source with haiku : basho/footmark

In 1689 - 元禄2年3月27日 - 9月6日

He leaves for "Oku no Hosomichi"奥の細道
on the 27th day of the 3rd lunar month and reaches Ogaki
on the 6th day of the 9th lunar month.

The dates for the Gregorian calendar are given with varying dates,
starting from May 6 to May 24.


Road measurements are given in ri 理.
1 ri - 36 choo 町 - about 3,9 km.
Most official roads of the Edo period had a stone marker and tree on a mound at each ri.

ichirizuka 一里塚 mound at each RI
(equivalent of a milestone)

These mounds were a mark for a restplace, travelers could rest in the shade of the tree.
Usually they were pine (sugi 杉 or matsu 松), or
. enoki 榎 nettletree, Chinese hackberry tree . .

Basho's trip took 600 Ri in 150 days,
about 2400 kilometers of walking.


. Oku no Hosomichi - NHK 2007 .

. Was Basho a ninja or onmitsu spy? .
Onmitsu : Oku no Hosomichi 隠密 - 奥の細道
Sora, Kawai Sora 河合曾良

OKU - what does this stand for?
. Michinoku, Mutsu 陸奥 region in Tohoku .

Basho traveled to the Tohoku region, where he had less friends than in Kansai, but could visit places in memory of
. Priest Saigyo Hoshi 西行法師 .
. Priest Noin Hoshi 能因法師 (Nooin Hooshi)  .

. - His outfit as a traveler in the Edo time - .   


Days and months are the travelers of eternity.
The years that pass are also but travelers in time.

. Stage 1: Prologue (Edo) 序章  .

. Stage 2: Senju, Departure 千住 江戸、旅立ち .
3月37日 (now May 16)

. Stage 3: Sooka 草加 Soka  .

. Stage 4: Muronoyashima (Muro no Yashima) 室の八島 "Eight Islands of Muro"  .

. Stage 5: Nikko 日光 .
4月1日 (now May 19) / 仏五左衛門 Hotoke Gozaemon

. Stage 6: Nasu 那須 .

. Stage 7: Nasu (Kurobane) 黒羽 .
4月3日 (now May 21)

. Stage 8: Nasu (Temple Unganji) 雲巌寺 / 雲岸寺 .

. Stage 9: Nasu (Sesshoseki) 殺生石 "murder stone", "killer stone" .

. Stage 10: Shirakawa  白河の関 .
4月20日 (now June 7)

. Stage 11: Sukagawa 須賀川  .
4月22日 (now June 9)

. Stage 12: Asaka (Fukushima) Asaka yama 安積山  .

. Stage 13: Shinobu no sato しのぶの里 / 忍ぶの里 / 信夫 .

. Stage 14: Sato Shoji 佐藤庄司が旧跡  .

. Stage 15: Iizuka 飯塚 .

. Stage 16: Kasajima 笠島 (Kasashima) .

. Stage 17: Takekuma no matsu 武隈 .

. Stage 18: Sendai 仙台 .
5月4日 (now June 20)

. Stage 19: Tsubo no Ishibumi 壺の碑 (Ichikawa) .

. Stage 20: Shiogama 塩釜 .

. Stage 21: Matsushima 松島 (Oshima 雄島) .
5月9日 (now June 25)

. Stage 22: Ishinomaki 石巻 . 石の巻  .
5月12日 (now June 29)

. Stage 23: Hiraizumi 平泉 .
5月13日 (now June 29)

. Stage 24: Dewagoe (Naruko) 出羽越え .

. Stage 25: Obanazawa 尾花沢 .
5月17日 (now July 03)

. Stage 26: Ryushakuji (Yamadera)  立石寺 .
5月27日 (now July 13)

. Stage 27: Ooishida 大石田 Oishida .

. Stage 28: Mogamigawa 最上川 River Mogami (Yamagata) .
6月03日 (now July 19)

. Stage 29: Hagurosan (Dewa Sanzan) 羽黒山 - 出羽三山 .

. Stage 30: Gassan (Dewa Sanzan) 月山 - 出羽三山 and Yudono San 湯殿山 .
6月6日 (now July 22)
- Tsuruoka 鶴岡 6月10日 (now July 26)

. Stage 31: Sakata  酒田 - Tsurugaoka 鶴が岡 .
6月 13日 (now July 29)

. Stage 32: Kisakata - Kisagata 象潟 .
6月 16日 (now August 01)
- Back to Sakata - 6月 18日 (now August 03) for one week

. Stage 33: Echigo 越後 (Niigata) - Izumosaki, Izumozaki 出雲崎 .
7月 4日 (now August 18)

. Stage 34: Ichiburi 市振の関 .

. Stage 35: Kanazawa  金沢 .
7月15日 (now August 29)

. Stage 36: Komatsu 小松 .

. Stage 37: Komatsu 小松 - Natadera 那谷寺 .
- and Yamanaka Onsen Hot Spring 山中温泉 7月27日 (now September 10) - for 8 days

. Stage 38: Daishoji - 全昌寺 .
Shiogoshi - Shiokoshi 塩越 - 汐越

. Stage 39: Matsuoka 松岡 - Maruoka 丸岡 .

. Stage 40: Fukui 福井 .

. Stage 41: Tsuruga 敦賀 .
8月14日 (now September 27)

. Stage 42: Ironohama  色の浜 .

. Stage 43: Ogaki 大垣 (Oogaki) .
9月6日 (now October 18)

. Stage 44: Postscript 跋.
by Kashiwagi Soryoo, Soryuu 柏木素龍 Soryo, Soryu / 素竜書


. Stamps from Oku no Hosomichi .

- - - - -

Kai-awase 貝合わせ おくの細道 sea shell game

with 23 pairs
source :

- - - - -

Paintings by Yosa Buson
- Reference with paintings -


The first poem of the trip begins with

yuku haru 行く春 spring is ending

The last poem ends with

yuku aki 行秋 autumn is ending

This shows Basho's keen appreciation of the seasons.

In the actual journey that Basho took in the spring of 1689, he had extremely limited success in finding new disciples in Michinoku.
- snip -
Basho, in short, made no significant new contacts in the northeast, the original destination of the journey, and his style and school did not take root in this area (Yamagata).
By contrast, Dewa and the area facing the Japanese Sea, particularly the Shonai region (northwest Yamagata. . .) and the Hokuriku area - Echigo, Etchu, Kaga and Echizen (Fukui) - proved to be a haikai goldmine.
Although Basho had almost no connections in the Shonai region, he encountered a number of young and talented poets:
- snip -
- Shirane, Traces of Dreams, page 250
source :


Kuniharu Shimizu
source :


天野吉則 Amano paintings on the way

芦原 伸
taking the train, Basho on my weekends
CLICK for more samples of Japanese books !


Oku no Hosomichi - Karuta 奥の細道かるた

Basho karuta -
study your culture
while you play



Basho speaks paradoxically about how the gods have motivated his decision to travel.
He refers to two types of gods.

The first is Sozorogami, the other are the Dosojin 道祖神.

Vom Kofferpacken und dem Gott des Fernwehs.

sozorogami そぞろ神 / そヾろ神 / 漫ろ神
suzurugami すずろがみ / 漫神
sowasowa no kami そわそわの神
. WKD : Aruki-gami 歩行神 God of Wandering .


"Unfortunately, Japanese haiku loses a lot in translation ... "

おくのほそ道: Oku No Hosomichi - Professor Donald Keene
- source :

Narrow Road to the Interior:
And Other Writings
Bashō Matsuo, Sam Hamill


Oku no Hosomichi - Haiku and Senryu



Notes to the transalations
source :

Barnhill, David Landis Barnhill
Basho's Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho - 2005
- source :

Britton, Dorothy Britton (1941 - September 16, 2014)
- source :

Cid Corman and Kamaike Susumu
Back Roads To Far Towns:
Basho's Travel Journal (Companions for the Journey)
- Full Text - PDF file -

Sato, Hiroaki Sato - Bashō's Narrow Road: Spring & Autumn Passages : Two Works
- source :

Yuasa, Nobuyuki Yuasa
Matsuo Basho's "Narrow Road to the Deep North"
with extensive literature links
source :

- - - - -

Chilcott, Translation - bilingual by Dr Tim Chilcott
source : Simply Haiku

Utamakura: Storied Places
Bashō’s Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Roads of Oku)
with google map and all !
source : Dennis Kawaharada

Oku no hosomichi - Wikipedia
With a long list of all the publications, books etc.
source :

Oku no Hosomichi - Wiki Travel
Narrow Road to the Deep North
source :

- Further Reference -

Basho in Akita Prefecture 秋田県
source : Akita International Haiku Network



The Text of Basho's Oku no hosomichi
source :

Detailed Itinerary with all the dates and distances
source : itoyo/basho/okunohosomichi

Translation into modern Japanese - Rodoku
with sound track to listen to roodoku おくのほそ道」の朗読
source :

source :

神社仏閣一覧 shrines and temples visited during Oku no Hosomichi
source : komichan/tanbou

source :

おくのほそ道 芭蕉・曽良句集 - with beautiful images
source : kushuu

私の芭蕉紀行 - 私の「おくのほそ道」
source :

walking along, drawing paintings . . .
source :

- Further Reference - おくのほそ道



Auf schmalen Pfaden durchs Hinterland
Geza S. Dombrady and Ekkehard May - Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung Mainz 1985
(Vollstaendiger Text)

Bashô (1644 - 1694) und sein Tagebuch "Oku no Hosomichi"
Hans Ueberschaar
source :

Landschaft und Erinnerung: Zu Bashōs Oku no Hosomichi
Robert F. Wittkamp
- - - - - mit Holzschnittbildern aus dem Bashō-ō Ekotoba-den
source :


source :

Paper Umbrella with Basho and Sora
wagasa from Gifu 和傘 - 岐阜


. Enpitsu de Oku no Hosomichi - えんぴつで奥の細道 .
Tracing the Narrow Road to the Deep North with a Pencil

. Oku no Hosomichi - NHK 2007 .


Izakaya Oku no Hosomichi 居酒屋おくのほそ道 - 太田和彦, 村松 誠 -

. Sake no Hosomichi のほそ道 "The Narrow Roads of Ricewine".
Manga by Razuweru Hosoki ラズウェル細木 Rozwell Hosoki

Mochi no Hosomichi もちの細道 in Memory of Basho
. Mochi Rice Cakes 餅  .


Novel by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Roger Pulvers
The time line of Richard Flanagan’s new novel, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North,” slips back and forth from prewar Tasmania, Melbourne and Adelaide to postwar Sydney, among other locations. Yet there is only one stark, unrelenting and everlasting present — “the Line,” the 415-km-long Burma-Thailand railway that was built between June 1942 and October 1943 by more than 300,000 prisoners of war under the command of the Japanese. One in three prisoners’ lives was lost on that arch-brutal forced march. Of those who perished, 90 percent were Asian, primarily Burmese and Malayans, but also Chinese, Tamils, Thais and Javanese. Nearly 3,000 Australians were among those killed. Richard Flanagan’s father was one of the lucky POWs who survived.
This being a newspaper published in Japan, it seems appropriate to mention that some of the haiku appearing in the novel are badly mistranslated. (The novel’s title comes from Basho’s classic and, as such, haiku play a key role in the narrative.)

The translation of Issa’s haiku about “the world of dew” that forms a chapter heading in the novel renders kenka as “struggle,” when what the poet means here is “quarrel.” Issa was commenting on a dispute of inheritance he had with his family. “Struggle” might be more meaningful in the context of wartime suffering, but it’s not what the original expresses and it sends the wrong signals.

The first chapter of the novel is preceded by Basho’s haiku about a bee emerging from the depths of a peony. The translation used has the bee “staggering out” of the peony, while in the original, from “Nozarashi Kikō,” tells us that the bee is coming out of the flower not staggering but with reluctant regret. Basho (the bee) is expressing gratitude to his hosts who took such good care of him on the road, telling them how sad he is to leave them.
- source : / - November 2013


kojiki no yo 乞食の世  "A Beggar's world"
. Travels by Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .

. WKD : Calendar Systems .