Saturday, September 28, 2013

Carpe Diem #309, Bashoo (Bananaplant)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to prepare this new episode of Carpe Diem. Why? Our prompt for today is the reason why Basho became a wellknown haiku-poet called "Basho". It was this Bashoo (Bananaplant) from which he took his penname. It's a lovely story and I love to share that story with you all.

In the Spring of 1681 a disciple of Basho, called Rika, presented him a bananaplant (a Bashoo). From that moment on he changed his name to Basho and his home was called 'Basho-an' (the banana tree cottage).
As Basho he became a famous haiku master. His earlier haiku, which he wrote under several pseudonyms, are now also known as haiku written by Basho. The first haiku he wrote as Basho was the following one:

basho ue te    mazu nikumu ogi no    futaba kana

planting a banana tree
more than ever I hate
sprouting reeds

This haiku isn't well known, but according to Jane Reichhold's "Old Pond: Basho's (almost) thousand haiku", this was the first he wrote as Basho.

I don't like this haiku, because it's a haiku with a negative feeling in my opinion. On the other hand ... I can sense the hatred in this one. In reaction on this haiku I once wrote, back in January 2012:

with tears in my eyes
I look at the sprouting reeds
of the Bamboo

I can't write haiku with the feeling of hate, but this one comes close. As you may know Bamboo can overgrow your garden in a short time. You can cut it, but it will soon sprout again. When you will got rid of it you have to cut and remove the roots. I love Bamboo but I 'hate' the fast sprouting of it.

Credits: Bashoo (bananatree or -plant)

The above part of this post you can read back at my other weblog: Basho Revisited, a weblog in which I try to write new haiku in the same sanes, tone and spirit as a haiku which I discussed in the posts. That weblog was by the way the reason why I have Special Carpe Diem episodes.

My attempt to write a new haiku for todays prompt:

unseen flowers
between the oversized leaves -
a humble haijin

Basho took his penname, because the Bananaplant blooms with almost unseen flowers and it's wood isn't useful at all. It's a plant that is so similar to Basho himself who was a humble haiku-poet who couldn't adjust to the status of a haiku-master. He loved being unseen and not of use, but through that he became the most famous haiku-poet ever.
For closure of this episode of Carpe Diem I love to share another haiku by Basho in which he uses the Bashoo (bananaplant): 

Bashoo no ki  towa ni ari si ya  nebu no hana

the basho tree
staying for good―
the mimosa blossoms


all June’s rainy days  have left untouched the Hall of Light i
n beauty still ablaze

Credits: Basho statue

I hope you all did like this new episode of Carpe Diem. With this one we are closing in to the end of our September month and into the start of our second year of Carpe Diem. I am excited ...
This prompt will stay on 'till September 30th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our next episode, the last of Carpe Diem's September month full of classical Japanese kigo for autumn, later on today around 7.00 PM (CET). That new episode is titled: Tsuyujimo (Dew frost).
!! Bashoo (bananaplant is open for your submissions at 7.00 PM (CET) !!


  1. I've read a lot of biography about Basho. I am not convinced he truly hated the banana tree. It was a gift from a student for one thing, For another he gave himself the pen name of Basho. Why would he do that if he hated the banana plant? Plus, upon his return from a time away from his hut, he expressed missing it the plant another haiku. I think Basho was just having a sad spell when he wrote that hate poem. That's my guess.

    1. That could be the reason. I think he's referring to the fast grow of the bananaplant. It can grow very wild and uncontroled ... It doesn't really matter why he used 'hate', because it's a nice haiku and the very first he wrote as Basho..

  2. Wonderful to know more about Basho and bashoo ...

  3. Thank you for another wonderful lesson in haiku history Kristjaan.