According to『おくのほそ道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ ‘ translated by Donald Keene, 松尾芭蕉( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) arrived at Kisakata on the evening of August 1, 1689, when a misty rain started to fall, obscuring Chokai Mountain.
The next morning the weather cleared beautifully. When the morning sun rose in all its splendor, Basho and his party took a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata. They put in first 能因島 (Nohin jima), Nohin Island, where they called at the remains of the hut in which 能因(Nohin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.
After that, Basho and his party left for the opposite shore, where they landed from their boat, and they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hoshi)(1118-1190), Saigyo .
Then they called at the temple standing nearby. In those days it was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which is now called 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple.
Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, Basho rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water. To the west, one can see as far as Muyamuya Barrier; to the east, the road over the embankment leads to Akita in the distance. The sea is to the north. The place where the waves of the sea breaks into the lagoon is called Tide-Crossing（汐越）(Shio-goshi). Kisakata is about two miles in either direction.
What did Basho and his companion Sora(曾良) enjoy?
Judging from some haiku written in『おくのほそ道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ ‘ I suppose they enjoyed going by boat on the lagoon around there after visiting the temple that afternoon.
First of all they went to the place called ‘Tide-Crossing’ （汐越）(Shio-goshi) and enjoyed soaking their legs into the waters.
Basho’s haiku is this:
Shiogoshi ya tsuru hagi nurete umi suzushi
The crane’s long legs are wetted
How cool the sea is!
Translated by Donald Keene
I’d like to add my note here:
‘鶴はぎ’ (tsuruhagi) means that ‘衣の丈が短くて、脛が長くあらわれていること’
, which is that ‘the length of a robe is short, and the long legs of a person who wears it is seen’ . Basho’s legs appeared as if they were the legs of a crane. That is because the Kanji characters ‘鶴‘ means ‘crane’ and ‘脛（はぎ）‘ means ‘shin or leg’.
The following notice in the picture is posted now at the place called ‘Tide-Crossing’ （汐越）(Shio-goshi) . It says that Basho used the name of ‘越長’ (Koshi-naga), not ‘汐越’ (Shio-goshi) in his first version of his haiku.
Basho and Sora also enjoyed boat-riding on the lagoon from island to island, having a nice view.of each island.
Sora wrote his haiku:
nami koenu chigiri arite ya misago no su
Did they vow never
To part till waves topped their rock?
The nest of the ospreys.
In memory of Basho’s stay
A basho tree was planted and is now growing in the garden of 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple in memory of Basho’s visit to Kisakata.
Donald Keene referred to a basho tree in the preface of 『おくのほそ道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ ‘ as follows:
Like most other writers, artists, and even philosophers of the time, Basho was known by various names during the course of his life. The one by which he is best known, Basho, was derived from a tree in his garden: in 1681, when he moved to a bleak area of the city Edo, he planted a basho tree in order to improve the appearance of the garden. The basho, a variety of banana tree that bears no fruit, had a special meaning for poets: its broad green leaves are easily torn by the wind, a ready symbol for the sensitivity of the poet. Visitors began to refer to the place as the Basho-an (Cottage of the Basho tree), and before long Basho was using the name by himself.
Last of all I wrote my haiku for a basho tree in the garden of the temple.
Basho no ki towa ni ari si ya nebu no hana
The basho tree
staying for good―
the mimosa blossoms
This is the end of the title ‘Basho’s stay in Kisakata, Akita’.
― Hidenori Hiruta
On July 26, we received a comment on ‘What are Haiku, Senryu and Tanka?’ on our website from Magyar, an American poet, living in Cape Cod.
He says in his comment as follows:
there are so many opinions about haiku/senryu.
– I tend to agree with the above, keeping my three lines minimal, and in (with me) an essential ‘incomplete sentence structure,’leaving, I hope, a hole through which a reader’s mind can wander; the only punctuation I use…an ellipsis.
I am so often wrong in defining the difference between haiku/senryu.
Our network has two senryu poets, so we’d like to post a senryu by Mr. Suigetsu Hasegawa, and its comment by Mr. Sousei Taira.
人を恋うポストが風を聴いている （長谷川 酔月）
Hito wo kou
Posuto ga Kaze wo
That loves human beings
Listening to the wind.
Comment：This is modern senryu of Suigetsu Hasegawa.He is a leader of a senryu group“Gin no Fue”(a silver flute) in Akita.This senryu is found in a selection of his senryu works Sutekina Yudan (2004).There is a red postbox (pillar-box) in the street.It seems to be a pretty girl who loves someone.She is listening to the voice of the wind and reminisces about her boyfriend.Suigetsu’s senryu is a lyrical and poetic verse.（Sousei Taira）
― Ｈｉｄｅｎｏｒｉ Ｈｉｒｕｔａ
On September 4, we received a comment on “Basho’s stay in Kisakata, Akita ( Part 1) from Dr. Gabi Greve. She said in her comment, “lately I enjoy Basho and the Sake no Hosomichi in the following site
: http://washokufood.blogspot.com/2009/08/sake-no-hosomichi.html. I wonder what Basho might have eaten at Kisakata.”
Dr. Gabi Greve is German and lives in Okayama, Japan since 1977 and works on a kind of DARUMAPEDIA about Japanese culture in its many respects.
She is also an expert on Kigo in haiku. She is of great help when it comes to Kigo questions. We can look into her homepage: World Kigo Database.
This time we’d like to answer her question, taking the situations at Kisakata now and in those days into consideration.
On August 2, 1689, Basho’s companion, Sora, asked the same question as Dr. Gabi Greve in his haiku in 『奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’
Kisakata ya ryori nani kuu kami maturi
What special food do they eat
At the festival?
Translated by Donald Keene
Special food at Kisakata
According to what I imagine, special food was 赤貝(akagai),ark shell, which tastes very delicious. That is because of the name of虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple. “The first Kanji character ‘虫甘’ means ‘赤貝(akagai),ark shells”, says the dictionary of Kanji characters. ‘満’ means ‘filled’ or ‘full’. So the area was filled with delicious ark shells. It is also said that there were various kinds of shell eaten in those days.
At first the temple was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which means that there was something living, associated with ‘珠‘ (ju), ‘pearls’.
I wonder if it is associated with ‘牡蠣‘ (kaki), ‘oyster’.
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, ‘oyster’ is a large flat shellfish. Some types of oyster can be eaten and others produce shiny white jewels called ‘pearls’.
Maybe Basho and his party might have eaten ‘oyster’, too.
Special food nowadays at Kisakata
From the middle of July to August many oysters can be gotten from the rocky shore of Kisakata port. We call such oyster ‘岩牡蠣‘ (iwagaki), ‘oyster from rocky shore’, which tastes very delicious. We eat it raw and it is very juicy.
Why do shells taste good at Kisakata?
I’ve written my haiku and tanka in order to tell you about some reasons why shells taste delicious at Kisakata.
Nama gaki ya fukuryusui no arai kana
Fresh oyster ―
being washed by
Amamizu wa buna no ne ni fushi nagaredasu umibe ni tsuki te kaki wo
Rainwater collects under the roots of beech trees,
and then streams,
reaching the shore and washing oyster
Basho and his party visited the temple at Kisakata. In those days it was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which is now called 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple.
Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, Basho rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water.
Kanji characters, ‘鳥(tori), bird ‘, ‘ 海(umi), sea ‘, and’ 山(yama), mountain‘ are used in Japanese. This means that Mt. Chokai is filled with birds and has a wonderful view of the sea. It also means that it is made up of huge forests, which have mainly myriads of beech trees keeping much rainwater under their roots.
― Hidenori Hiruta
On July 15, we received two comments for ‘Akita International Haiku Network’ from Scotland. Mr. John McDonald sent his comments to us for encouragement, saying ‘Good Luck!’. He was the first haiku poet to send us comments and presented us with his haiku books.
I’d like to take up one of his haiku books, whose title is ‘THE THROU-GAUN CHIEL’.
I post some of his haiku, showing my free translations of them in Japanese to you.
In this haiku book, Mr. John McDonald noted: Dedicated to my dear wife Ann, our children Laura, Kieran, and Euan; and all the haijin who have inspired me, and continue to do so.
According to the introduction of the author, Mr. John McDonald is a retired stone-mason living in Edinburgh Scotland. He came to haiku in the mid-nineties and fell in love with the genre. He writes in Scots – one of the two languages native to Scotland (the other being the celtic-rooted Gaelic). He has a web-page of Scots haiku http://zenspeug.blogspot.com which he tries to update daily, and from which most of the enclosed have been taken.
Here I’d like to show you some scots haiku in his native language as well as in English, and my free translations of them in Japanese. I hope that you’ll enjoy scots haiku.
rairin o saws –
throuch the blawort
roaring of saws –
through the blubells
ogiri ya tetsudou no waki buru-beru
weet ginges the sawins:
tree’s hert bled out
rain gingers the sawdust:
tree’s heart bled out
Hito sari te mokurei itamu ame no kuzu
voar tirl –
pruive thair vices
spring breeze –
try out their voices
Shunpuu ya yohyoh no koe utai zome
skreich o day –
licht muives athort
the boo o the aipple
light moves across
the curve of the apple
(award winner 10th annual Suruga Baika literary festival)
Akatsuki ya ringo no ka-bu hikari sugu
jeegsawin the plainstanes –
bairns lowp amang thaim
jigsawing the pavement –
children hop among them
Eda no kage hodoh kirinuki kodomo tobu
an the burn
…at thair ain slaw raik
the old lady
and the stream
…at their own slow pace
Roh fujin ogawa no yoh ni jiteki kana
furst gorblins -
voar juist gat
first fledglings –
spring just got
Wakadori ya haru wo nigiwasu toki no oto
shakkin wi lauchter:
shaking with laughter:
Shudohjo warau sugata wa suisenka
mither an dochter
settin aff bulbs –
the derk yirth
mother and daughter
planting bulbs –
the dark earth
(winner kukai 5 : haiku Ireland)
Haha to musume kyuukon ueru kuraki chi ni
― Hidenori Hiruta