Friday, May 15, 2015

Carpe Diem #731 - "How enticing"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's springtime and finally the weather is becoming warm and a little more stable.  It's a wonderful time to travel and have an exciting adventure, perhaps with good friends, which is what I did this last weekend!  Many centuries ago, Basho also decided to take a trip in spring, not his first as we can see from his haiku.

So today let's peek into the life of  Basho as he anticipates his next spring trip, perhaps contemplating travelling with Kawai Sora into the interior of Japan:

Omoshiro ya/ kotoshi no haru mo/ tabi no sora

[literal translation: exciting!/ this year’s spring also/ journey’s sky]

how enticing
in the spring of this year
again on a journey

© Basho (trans. Jane Reichhold)
(spring 1689)

The first of Basho's journeys resulted from a series of events which had rendered him dissatisfied and lonely, although he had attained a certain amount of fame in Edo.  So,  in 1684 Basho departed from Edo, alone for the first of his four journeys, taking the "Edo's Five Routes" which in Medieval times was considered to be very dangerous, and probably Basho did not expect to return from that trip.  However as his trip progressed his spirit improved very much and he began to feel better.  He met many friends during his travels and enjoyed the changing seasons and countryside.  His poetry became more vivacious and less introspective which reflects the joy he felt travelling.  This trip took him to Mount Fuji, Ueno and Kyoto.  He travelled again after returning to Edo.

In 1689 Basho began plans for a longer trip and the above haiku was sent to one of Basho's pupils, Kyorai as a sort of announcement of his intentions. His plans culminated on May 16, 1689 when he left Edo again, this time accompanied by his student and apprentice Kawai Sora which took him to the Northern Provinces of Honshu and lasted for 156 days culminating in his masterpiece Oku no Hosomichi, or The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Jane Reichhold brings to our attention that the last line of this haiku,  tabi no sora (journey's skies) probably refers to his intended companion for the journey, since Sora  means 'sky'. 

And here is my haiku relating to my recent trip to San Giorgio in Piano (Italy) where I participated in a Medieval festival:

a spring journey
through bright fields of green
into the past

© G.s.k. '15

Well, it's not a strong haiku and the only relationship to Basho's adventure and mine is that they took place in the late spring.  The haiku should perhaps been an announcement.  Or maybe not.  Now it's your turn!

Looking for this particular haiku was a wonderful adventure, something I'd invite everyone to try at least once.  Of course I went searching on Google as I didn't happen to have this specific haiku in my possession.  The note was found in a book written by Ian Marshall entitled:  "Border Crossings: Walking the Haiku Path on the International Appalachian Trail" and the note is from Jane Reichhold's book: Basho (on pages 131, 316).  The haiku in Japanese with it's literal translation and date was found in a pdf document entitled: "Matsuo Basho - Two Hundred Selected Haiku" by Tim Chichott.  The information about Basho's life was found in the Wikipedia.  For the full itinerary of Basho’s trip please visit “Narrow Road to the North”.

I hope you enjoyed the post and feel inspired to create your own original haiku based on Basho's poem, have fun!  Ciao, Bastet

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 18th at noon (CET).


  1. Very nice post - and what a haiku by Basho! He shows his true inner light there..

    1. Thanks so much Hamish ... glad you enjoyed the haiku!

  2. An interesting post, Bastet :)
    To think - haiku as a travel announcement!

    1. Cool no? I enjoyed finding out about the background of this haiku .. an interesting experience.

  3. Nicely done, ma chè is a passage I find encouraging for Basho seemed so introspective for a time. Your haiku is lovely as I envision long dresses, fancy hats, beautiful boots...we used to have a medieval festival every summer in Old Québec City. I hope you are enjoying yourself, cara.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post! And I expect that travel really gave a whole new perspective on life to our great poet!

      The participation at San Giorgio was a lovely, a really great festival and I enjoyed myself very much. I'll be repeating the experience at the beginning of June and then in August will be doing the 5 day extravaganza of Sluderno (which I went only as a visitor last year) in Alto Adige - sister province of Trentino.

  4. I`m late but am truly enjoying your prompts, cara!