Carpe Diem #1143 Japan – Day 3 – Edo, ancient Tokyo

Carpe Diem #1143 Japan – Day 3 – Edo, ancient Tokyo


Photo Credit                            A statue of Bashō in Hiraizumi, Iwate

The month of February I’m studying Japan, the land of the rising sun, mother of haiku.

We are on our journey, today it’s about Edo, ancient Tokyo

Tokyo, the modern capital of Japan, but Tokyo wasn’t always named Tokyo.

In the time of Basho, and other great haiku poets, Tokyo was known as Edo.

The Edo period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country’s 300 regional daimyō.

The True Master of Haiku

Matsuo Bashō 1644–1694 Born then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku (then called hokku).

He didn’t always live in Edo he did travel.

In 1685 Bashō returned to Edo in the summer, taking time along the way to write more hokku and comment on his own life:

Bashō left Edo for the last time in the summer of 1694, spending time in Ueno and Kyoto before his arrival in Osaka. He became sick with a stomach illness and died peacefully, surrounded by his disciples.

Although he did not compose any formal death poem on his deathbed the following, being the last poem recorded during his final illness, is generally accepted as his poem of farewell:

falling sick on a journey

my dream goes wandering

over a field of dried grass [1694]

30 days of tanka poems – Japan – Day 3 – Edo, ancient Tokyo

My Tanka Poem

teacher of poetry

dissatisfied and lonely

despite his success

give thanks to a haiku gem

will be known forever


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