Basho's thoughts on...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story: Basho
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Renku, Haiku, and Tanka
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time for Basho
• Basho Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• 370 Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY -- Basho Amazes Me! How About You?
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention
with praise to women,
children, and teenagers

Hundreds upon hundreds of
Basho works (mostly renku)
about women, children,
teenagers, friendship,
compassion, love.

These are resources we can
use to better understand
ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial
power of the feminine
emanating from
Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover his
"gentleness and humanity."

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages
of Basho material, to edit
and improve the material,
to receive 100% of royalties,
to spread Basho’s wisdom
worldwide and preserve
for future generations.

Quotations from Prose


Days and months are guests
passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"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."


"In verses of other poets,
there 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."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one
as an expression of the
same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com

 



Home  >  Topics  >  Space and Time for Basho  >  G-09


Zeze: Resting Place for his Spirit

4 Basho haiku, 2 renku, 13 letters, 2 haibun, 2 bits of speech, and a tanka

Legend:
Words of Basho in bold
Words of other poets not bold

Zeze, in Otsu, just across the mountains east of Kyoto, was sacred to Basho: He wrote

"The mountains in silence nurture the spirit; 
 the water with movement calms the emotions."

 

He spent days and months at various locations in Zeze, somehow connecting with the place – so just before he died, he requested that he be buried at Gichuji Temple, a short walk from the shore of Lake Biwa.

 

In Zeze lived Chigetsu, an elderly widow whose samurai husband was an official at the Otsu Post Station managing the delivery of parcels by horse; when he died in 1686 Chigetsu took the tonsure of a Buddhist nun although still lived at home with her family (You can see some of her haiku in article D-12).   Also in Zeze lived Kyokusui, a young samurai dad, and the tea merchant Masahide, and doctor Shado -- all these nice people appear in Basho’s words. To discover why Basho chose here for his final resting place, we search in natural scenery but even more in the feelings Basho had for these people.

 

After Basho finished his journey to the Deep North in the autumn of 1689, still traveling he went to Ise and his hometown Iga. From Iga, Zeze is just across the low mountains to the north. Here, 400 years before, lived the poetess and nun Shosho. In the coldest time of the year, Basho visits Chigetsu for the first time. Hostess and guest write two renku stanza-pairs:

 

Here I speak
with the nun Shosho -
village snow

She was pure sand
here the winter wind

 

Basho compliments Chigetsu for being an image of Shosho; she responds with standard Japanese humility: “No! No! You must not compare me to the great Shosho. She was pure; I am merely barren.” The stanza-pair contains so much nature – the freezing snow, the sand on the nearby lake beach, the cold winding blowing across the water – but also much human feeling.

 

Chigetsu begins the second exchange with a desolate image of poverty and desolation living alone in snow country.

A straw broom
only this, in old age
snow on the roof

Surrounding the brazier
robes dyed black

 

Basho counters with warmth and intimacy. Both Basho and Chigetsu wear black robes in vivid contrast to the snow outside. One person cannot surround a brazier (without getting burned); there have to be two people both moving close to the fire. Basho thus expresses gratitude to his hostess for the warmth she provided with her home and brazier.

 

 this spring, someone in Zeze asked one of Basho’s followers to arrange for Basho to name their newborn daughter. He named her Kasane – “to pile up in layers” and also, in the dimension of time, “occur again and again, in succession”) and wrote this double meaning into a tanka of blessing to his god-daughter in Zeze:


Spring passes by
again and again in layers
of blossom kimono
may you see wrinkles
come with old age

 

The double and triple meanings -- layers of kimono and under-kimono fabric… succession from bright colorful kimono in youth to dark sedate robe in old age… the succession of each kimono from mother to daughter then granddaughter… the “wrinkles” both in the kimono and her skin – overlap to form a web of blessing and hope for Kasane and all female infants. (See article C-14).

 

In the year 1004 (according to legend), a 30 year-old woman came to Ishiyama Temple, just to the south of Zeze, for a seven-day retreat, searching for inspiration. The Genji no Ma (Alcove of Genji) is the ‘traces’ of the small room in the side of the main temple building where, overlooking Lake Biwa under the harvest moon, she began work on her Tale of Genji, the world’s first novel and, with 1100 pages in translation, the longest novel written before the 20th century.

 

After staying the night at Seta at dawn I visit
Ishiyama Temple to see the Alcove of Genji:

 

Daybreak…
the sky still purple
ho toto GI su

 

The little cuckoo’s bright five-note call– a three note trill ho to-to, a sharp rise in intensity for GI, and the final su trailing off -- announces the summer. The bird sounds breathless, as if striving to produce the five notes with utmost beauty. The striking beauty of the call is enhanced by the coming of daylight

 

In the summer of 1690, with Kyokusui among the entourage of the Lord of Zeze in attendance on the Shogun; Basho stayed for four months in a hut in the hills above Zeze owned by Kyokusui;


…in the day my heart is moved by those
who on occasion come to visit me,
the old one who takes care of the shrine,
the men from the village telling me
of a wild boar tearing up the rice stalks,
of rabbits getting into the bean patches,
farmers’ talk I have not heard before.

 

Basho visited Kyokosui’s mansion. Here is a passage from his letter to Kyokusui, dated August 4, 1690:

 

Takesuke day by day getting bigger, endowed with such intelligence and in good health and mood because your wife, the wet-nurse          , and others there in your absence behave more cheerfully than he,          so Takesuke shows no signs of loneliness. I am glad to have seen this.

 

Basho gives a remarkably complete developmental profile on the infant: 1) gaining weight, 2) shows intelligence, 3) health/mood good, 4) father absent 5) but child lives in stable, extended family of women devoted to his care. 6) They remain cheerful even when he is sad (because papa is away) so they cheer him up and 7) Takesuke “shows no signs of loneliness.”

 

After four months at the Hut of Unreal Dwelling, Basho went to stay at a cottage on the grounds of Gichuji Temple in Zeze. For the Harvest Moon this year (September 17, 1690), Basho had his Zeze followers over for a moon-viewing party where he wrote four distinct haiku on the magnificent white globe shining over the expanse of Lake Biwa.


Harvest moon
facing the lake, seven
ages of Woman

 

Kon says,“As the beautiful scenery of Lake Biwa under the harvest moon transforms according to the position of the moon in the sky, so we recall seven changes in her illusionary beauty.” Each position of the Moon is one act in the play of any woman’s life. Watching the enormous round moon move throughout the long night, the seven stages unfold before our eyes: infancy, school girl, lover, wife, elder, crone, second infancy. In Zeze Basho has the power to write so transcendental a haiku.

 

The same night as the above, Basho wrote

 

Harvest Moon –
children standing in line
temple verandah

 

From Moon in the sky to line of bald round heads on short bodies.

 

Months later, on December 14, Basho wrote to Kyokusui

 

Here in Zeze, Master Takesuke growing up, often laughing,
a sturdy lad, as sturdy as he can be in his second year of life.
And Osome and the uba are without misfortune.

 

Basho’s praise for one-year-old Takesuke pleases Kyokusui because his young heir is the next generation, the next layer, of Kyokusui. The father is a samurai, but nowadays there is no fighting, and samurai have become government administrators. Kyokusui has little opportunity to be manly, and his son is growing up without father present. Basho reaches inside Kyokusui’s heart to reassure him that his son is becoming a takumashii (strong, sturdy, vigorous) little samurai who can also laugh – just like Dad.

 

p.s. Tomiemon’s wife gave birth normally,
both mother and children without misfortune,
and the old mother’s joy boundless.

 

Basho pays enough attention to his friend’s servant’s wife, newborn and aged mother to mention them in a letter. He manages to get all three generations into the image, focusing on the female.

 

On February 16, 1691, Basho sends a letter to Chigetsu with this postscript:

 

p.s. Your daughter-in-law always, always
breaking her bones till it hurts to see her.
and so we should feel gratitude.
I hope you are very, very aware of this.

 

Basho speaks of the yome, Chigetsu’s daughter-in-law who came to this household decades ago. Without Abigail Adams to remind him, Basho “remembers the ladies.” He praises the solidarity of two women of different generations sharing one house in Zeze.

 

Finally after two years in Kansai, Basho returned to Edo in late autumn of 1691. Having sold his hut in Fukagawa before he left Edo on his journey to the North in spring of 1689, he and his cousin Torin stayed in a rental house in the City. On January , he writes to Kyokusui in Zeze

 

Depressed among those enlightened,
clinging to memories my only refinement.
I ate as many pine-mushrooms and
Zeze persimmons as my heart desired,
so now have no regrets about leaving.

 

By eating the produce of Zeze, he absorbed the feeling of being there, as now, even in Edo, he still has that Zeze feeling in him.

 

I left on November 6th and after 32 days arrived in Edo Fukagawa.
The letters you and Shado sent were delivered by Shiko to Atsuta,
and people brought them to my lodgings near Okazaki Station.

 

Letters from Kyokusui and Shado written soon after Basho left were taken by the faster traveling Shiko to Basho east of Nagoya.

 

Wind blowing through rips in the paper window
moonlight shining through cracks in the door,
before a dirty lantern smelling of fish oil,
I quickly opened your letters,
and my tears soaked the pages.

 

Basho gives Kyokusui reading the letter an image of his own letter in Basho’s hands.

 

In Shado’s letter he speaks of his gratitude
for three years of my hospitality, but truly
those three years my heart spent in Zeze,
whose kindness enabled that hospitality?

 

Basho would answer his question, “Your’s. Your hospitality enabled me to be hospitable to Shado.”  Japanese are constantly thinking about personal relationships within their social norms.

 

Although this year and next I shall play in Edo,
to Zeze my heart points; with humility
I know not how, it is like my hometown.

 

On April 4, 1692 Basho writes to Kyokusui at home in Zeze; Takesuke is two or three:

 

In your letters you have not written about Takesuke
and the others. He must be getting big
and everyday his mischief extreme.

 

Basho, without seeing the child, knows how children develop -- so he can imagine Takesuke in his “terrible twos” (No! No! No!) – so Basho recognizes this occurance of “terrible twos” in 17th century Japan -- -- and he wants to know more about this child of Zeze.

 

Basho then goes into a montage of memories of his time two years ago in the Hut of Unreal Dwelling in 1690

I am glad you had your servant repair the thatch                                  on the upper roof of the Hut of Unreal Dwelling.
Only on that mountain can one get some distance
from the common world.
Occasionally I remember how difficult it was
to forget sleeping and waking in that hut.
Once more while I live I wish to see
daybreak in light snow on that mountain.

 

                                (Letter to Chigetsu, June 21, 1692)

 

For one year a dream has been like reality.
On each of us old age presses.
The day may not be as far as today or tomorrow.

 

Seven months ago, Basho parted from Chigetsu in Zeze to return to Edo. Basho is 48 and Chigetsu in her sixties. In this time old age is said to begin at 40. (Young people still think this.)

 

The summer heat at the Gichuji Cottage
is one sort of the memories that arises
Here where everything is rough and approximate
everything is disabled,
so unable to forget the extent of my obligation
I feel only longing to be with you…

 

“Rough and approximate” (omaka naru) is his current state, staying in someone’s house in downtown Edo without a place of his own. Since he now feels that way, Basho feels an on (obligation) to the Zeze people for giving him such a peaceful place to stay at Gichuji the year before.

 

Soon after this letter, Basho moved into a new three-room hut built for him by his Edo followers.

 

For last New Years (1693), Kyokusi was in Edo and visited Basho who cooked for his guest some zoni, vegetable soup with mochi dumplings, a traditional New Year’s dish. Now, for the New Years of 1694, Kyokusui is home with his family. Basho in Edo sends a letter on February 22, 1694:

 

That was a meager vegetable-mochi soup I served you.
This year at your house the uba fed you so much
you got sick of it.

 

Zoni is traditionally served throughout the New Year season which lasts 20 days. Thus by the end of the First Moon, when this letter was written, one might be tired of zoni. We see that the uba—who was Kyokosui’s wet nurse—likes to overfeed her baby. Basho is kidding his friend –an illustration of how close was their friendship.


On June 3, 1694 Basho left Edo on another journey west, accompanied by his grandnephew Jirobei.

They reached Iga on June 20th. Here is from Basho’s letter to Sora from Zeze on July 13th.

 

The many fleas and mosquitoes make summer in Iga
hard to bear, so we have come out here to Zeze.

 

Iga lies in a basin surrounded by low mountains which trap the warm sultry air so fleas and mosquitoes flourish. In Zeze beside Lake Biwa there is always a cool breeze to drive them off.

 

Lake ripples
and the wind’s fragrance
one rhythm

 

The ripples of Lake Biwa against the shore and the wind’s fragrance have one rhythm, and people in Zeze live in this rhythm 24/7.

 

We have yet to see Kyorai. Joso now lives in Zeze.
And Shiko has extended his sphere of influence all the way
to Ise-Yamada and done such things as build a cottage for me.
I met him unexpectedly when he came to Zeze
to manage the Kyoto sightseeing for the family
of the Head Priest of the Ise Shrine.
We hung out together for two nights and a day,
then he went up to Kyoto.

 

Masahide squealed in delight and gave us dinner,
but tea-picking is such a frenzied time for them
that we spent part of our sojourn at Kyokusui’s.

 

Basho’s final words to Kyokusui are the p.s. to a letter on


Moreover your children are without misfortune
it is my pleasure to dedicate

 

We join Basho in his dedication to the “no-misfortune” of children.

Ordinarily Basho would have been buried in Iga with his family, however on his deathbed in Osaka he requested burial at Gichuji:

 

There at the crossroads of East and West
where ripples are clear against the shore
and vows of a lifetime are deep,
when beloved friends come to visit,
they shall not be put to inconvenience.

 

Iga is far from the main road between Edo and Kyoto, while Zeze is right alongside that major road – and so at the end Basho thinks of his friends’ convenience. Basho had himself buried in Zeze, in a shroud made by Chigetsu and her daughter-in-law, so you could easily visit him; you can be one of those “beloved friends.”

Take the Tokaido Main Line 10 minutes from Kyoto Station to Zeze station, and walk (the temple says) seven minutes to Gichuji Temple. On the grounds is a large, spectacular stone for the 12th Century warrior Kiso Yoshinaka, and a small-child sized irregular shaped stone for Basho.

 

                     basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Basho in Saga (G-08) (G-10) Transcending Space, Time, and Life >>


The Three Thirds of Basho

 

 

I plead for your help in finding a person or group to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material, to edit and improve the presentation, to receive all royalties from sales, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide and preserve for future generations.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com
Basho's thoughts on...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story: Basho
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Renku, Haiku, and Tanka
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time for Basho
• Basho Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• 370 Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY -- Basho Amazes Me! How About You?
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention
with praise to women,
children, and teenagers

Hundreds upon hundreds of
Basho works (mostly renku)
about women, children,
teenagers, friendship,
compassion, love.

These are resources we can
use to better understand
ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial
power of the feminine
emanating from
Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover his
"gentleness and humanity."

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages
of Basho material, to edit
and improve the material,
to receive 100% of royalties,
to spread Basho’s wisdom
worldwide and preserve
for future generations.

Quotations from Prose


Days and months are guests
passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"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."


"In verses of other poets,
there 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."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one
as an expression of the
same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com