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.


象潟干満珠寺(H21) 012


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.


ユネスコスピ-チコンテスト(H20) 013


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.


象潟干満珠寺(H21) 014


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



The postbox

That loves human beings

Listening to the wind.

(Suigetsu Hasegawa)



川柳銀の笛吟社主宰の長谷川酔月の現代川柳。この作品は、川柳句集『素敵な油断』(2004)に収録されている。赤い「ポスト」が街の中で佇む姿は、どこか「人を恋う」乙女のようだ。その「ポスト」が、「人」に恋心を抱きながら、「風」の声を「聴いている」のである。抒情性豊かな「詩性川柳」である。(平 宗星)

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

: 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. ‘’ 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 ‘‘ (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.


ユネスコスピ-チコンテスト(H20) 019


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

undercurrent water



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 


 Scots haiku・象潟(芭蕉) 009


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 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 –

new railrod

throuch the blawort


roaring of saws –

new railroad

through the blubells



ogiri ya  tetsudou no waki  buru-beru



 punlers gane

weet ginges the sawins:

tree’s hert bled out


foresters gone

rain gingers the sawdust:

tree’s heart bled out



Hito sari te  mokurei itamu  ame no kuzu



 voar tirl –

youthie leaves

pruive thair vices


spring breeze –

young leaves

try out their voices



Shunpuu ya  yohyoh no koe  utai zome



skreich o day –

licht muives athort

the boo o the aipple


dawn –

light moves across

the curve of the apple


(award winner 10th annual Suruga Baika literary festival)



 Akatsuki ya  ringo no ka-bu  hikari sugu



 brainch sheddaes

jeegsawin the plainstanes –

bairns lowp amang thaim


branch shadows

jigsawing the pavement –

children hop among them



Eda no kage  hodoh kirinuki  kodomo tobu



the cailleach

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:

the nuns

…the daffins


shaking with laughter:

the nuns

…the daffodils



 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