Carpe Diem #1144 Japan – Day 4 – Basho – Samurai

Carpe Diem #1144 Japan – Day 4 – Basho – Samurai


Photo Credit.          The Fujimi Yagura (A Turret of The Edo Castle), 1659

The month of February I’m studying about Japan at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share haiku and tanka (or other Japanese poetry forms).

This is the fourth day of our journey, today it’s about Samurai, a Samurai is a member of the Japanese warrior caste.

Yesterday we studied Edo.

Edo Castle was the military capital during the Edo period and the shogun had an army of samurai to rely on.

It is one of only three remaining keeps of the inner citadel of Edo Castle, from a total number of originally eleven.

The samurai was usually associated with a clan and their lord, they were trained as officers in military tactics and grand strategy.

While the samurai numbered less than 10% of then Japan’s population, their teachings can still be found today in both everyday lives and in modern Japanese martial arts.


Photo Credit    Samurai in armor, 1860’s. Hand-coloured photograph by Felice Beato.

Matsuo Basho

Now, this is when the Haiku Poetry came about.

Matsuo Basho was the son of a low-ranked samurai and for a long time he had the idea to follow in his ‘father’s footprints’.

He even became the page of a high ranked samurai’s son, Yoshitada.

He (Basho) and Yoshitada became good friends.

In 1665, Bashō and Yoshitada together with some acquaintances composed a hyakuin, or one-hundred-verse renku.

Yoshitada’s sudden death brought Bashō’s peaceful life as a servant to an end.

Basho was very sad when his young master and friend died at the age of 22.

No records of this time remain, but it is believed that Bashō gave up any possibility of samurai status and left home.

In 1674 he was inducted into the inner circle of the hai kai profession, receiving secret teachings from Kitamura Kigin (1624–1705). He wrote this hokku in mock tribute to the Shogun:

In about the spring of 1672, he moved to Edo, to further his study of poetry.

My Haiku about Basho being a Samurai

death of his best friend

canceled idea samurai

writing haiku poems



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