Thursday, August 15, 2013

Carpe Diem Special #52, Kikaku's "a white crane from Fukei"

!! I post this episode for August 16th already now, because I am in the nightshift and I don't know if I am on time publishing later on today. This Special is open for submissions at 7.00 PM (CET) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and trvaelers,

Today we have another Special haiku written by Kikaku, our haiku poet for this month of Carpe Diem. I love to share a piece of literature written by Kikaku while his master Matsuo Basho was in the last days of his life. I haven’t copied the whole piece but I love to share here a part of this piece of literature by Kikaku. (Chèvrefeuille)


An Account of Our Master Basho's Last Days
By Takarai Kikaku
Translated by Nobuyuki Yuas
(Source: simply haiku)

Our master spent October the ninth and tenth in a serious condition, but he inquired after me, and hearing from Otokuni that I was in the vicinity of Tannowa in the province of Izumi, sent me a letter, saying that he yearned to see me. The letter, however, failed to reach me in time. I boarded a boat together with Gano and Kio and enjoyed the sights along the coast of Fukei, spending the night at Sakai. I reached Osaka on the evening of the eleventh, and inquiring after my master, I was told that he was in a bad condition. So I went at once to see him in his sick bed. We spoke our inexpressible thoughts in weak voices, feeling that it was the god of Sumiyoshi that had brought us together, appreciating our devotion over the years. I had also prayed at Wakanoura for the health of our master, and had asked the gracious god of Aridoshi to refrain from inflicting misfortune on him. So I had had no premonition of his illness, but now seeing him in bed, I could not help melting into tears. I was crouched at my master's bedside, but Kyorai and Shiko signaled with their hands to come away. I left my master and tried to regain my composure. Sitting somewhat at ease, I looked at my master’s ailing face. It seemed almost dead, and the rain that fell constantly only aggravated my grief. So I wrote:

How I wish to call
A white crane from Fukei,
But for this cold rain.

I tried to comfort my master with this poem of prayer for his long life.

Our master said jokingly, "Genjuan, where I found my first prop in a pasania tree, is too far from any human abode, I would rather have my grave by the side of Lord Kiso." These words later became a legacy among his disciples. Our master was of the same mind as Saigyo, who wished to die under the full moon in the second month of spring. He constantly thought about his end and wrote poems expressing his premonitions of death. Therefore, he did not have to write any poem of farewell on his death bed

About four o’clock on the afternoon of the twelfth, our master passed away. His dead face was beautiful, like a face asleep. We covered his body and placed it in a large coffer. We then dressed ourselves like traders carrying their merchandise, and, putting the coffer on a river boat, we sailed, ten of us together; Kyorai, Otokuni, Jyoso, Shiko, Izen Masahide, Bokusetsu, Donshu, Jutei's son called Jirobei, and myself. Under drops of night dew, similar to those that came down from the rush roof of our boat, our master must have slept many times with cold sleeves. We did not know how many, we said to ourselves, and talked in small voices about the miraculous connection we had with him. We all sat like priests in meditation and said prayers for him, remembering the precious words and gentle admonitions with which he had taught us over the years. Now that we had lost him, this great light in the art of haikai, we thought that we should remember his teachings as if they were his relics, and repeated old tales about him, yearning after him in our hearts.


The haiku which I love to share here for your inspiration and to write (or try to write) a haiku in the same tone, sense and Spirit as Kikaku is the one which is to read in the above piece of literature.

Credits: Cranes
The Crane is in Japanese spirituality a symbol for a long life, so it's a very strong imagery for the eternal existence of Matsuo Basho. And I think with that image he is honored.

how I wish to call
a white crane from Fukei,
but for this cold rain

(c) Kikaku

I think this is one of the most beautiful haiku written by Kikaku, so it's a real challenge to write a haiku in the same sense, tone and Spirit. So good luck, be inspired and share your haiku with us here on Carpe Diem.

a white crane
visits the graveyard of the temple -
peach blossoms bloom

(c) Chèvrefeuille

Credits: Peach (means longevity)

What a wonderful haiku, I know it's a bit immodest, but this haiku feels good and the deeper thoughts in this one are so strong present. So I think this one is in tune with the haiku by Kikaku.

This prompt will stay on 'till August 17th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our next episode, Sapphire, later on today around 7.00 PM (CET). Have fun, be inspired and share. !! Kikaku's third haiku is open for submissions at 7.00 PM (CET) !!


  1. Amazing write up - and your of your best, just a wonderful, solitary haiku.

  2. Beautiful history you shared with us and beautiful haiku by you inspired by Kikaku.

  3. I found this segment on the symbolism in haiku, Kikaku's in particular, very enlightening. It was a challenge to write a poem of my own this way! Your white crane poem created vivid imagery for me!

  4. I like the hope in this one.

  5. I am late on this prompt, but I did enjoy it.