Thursday, March 3, 2016

Carpe Diem Special #200 Basho's disciples: Ransetsu's "against the blue"

Credits: photo

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the first CD-Special of this month in which we are exploring the way how Basho, my sensei, created his haiku. In the CD-Specials of this month I love to introduce several of Basho's disciples. It's known that Basho had a lot of disciples and followers, but he had ten (10) disciples who were very close to him. These are known as the Shoomon of Iga Province, shoomon means Basho's school.

The above logo shows the The Haisei-den, the great haiku poet's hall, It was built inside Ueno-koen Park in 1942 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his birth. The building itself is shaped like the figure of Basho attired in a traveling clothes. The round roof symbolizes his sedge hat, the octagonal eaves his surplice, the pillar is his cane, and the frame of the Haisei-den is in the shape of his face. Other Basho-related facilities include the Minomushi-an, or bagworm hermitage, and the venerable Basho Memorial Hall, Basho Kinen-kan Museum.

This "great haiku poet's hall" is the symbol for the 10 disciples of Basho, whom were very close to him and promoted the way of Basho. These ten haiku poets (or maybe 11 or 12) were the following:

Enomoto Kikaku
Hattori Ransetsu
Mukai Kyorai
Morikawa Kyoroku
Kagami Shiko
 (Kagami Shikoo)
Naito Joso (Naitoo Joosoo)
Ochi Etsujin
Shida Yaba
Sugiyama Sanpuu (Sanpu, Sampu).
Sora, Kawai Sora
Tachibana Hokushi

Basho's disciples (Shoomon)

I will bring haiku by them in the CD-Specials of this month starting with Hattori Ransetsu (1654-1707). 

Ransetsu was a disciple of Basho, and his allegiance was so strong that when he died Ransetsu is said to have shaved his head and embraced Buddhism. Basho is said to have remarked "I cannot equal Ransetsu in poetical austerity."
Just like Basho, Ransetsu also spent time travelling and recorded this in his dairies with haiku. Ransetsu was counted by Master Yosa Buson as one of four great haiku poets to be visited by aspiring poets.

The Haiku of Ransetsu are marked by the presence of compassion, and the most famous haiku of Ransetsu is probably this one about the childless woman:

The childless woman,
How tender she is
To the dolls!

© Ransetsu (Tr. R.H.Blyth)

Credits: Hattori Ransetsu (1654-1707)

But he has also written very nice haiku in which we can read / see the hand of the master, Basho, himself. Here are a few examples:

one leaf falls
now, another leaf falls
in the wind

At dusk the harvest moon
paints a pine-tree
against the blue

In stony moonlight
hills and fields on every side
white and bald as eggs …

Above the pilgrims
chanting on a misty road
wild geese are flying

New year’s day
The sky is cloudless;
Sparrows are gossiping

© Ransetsu (Tr. unknown)

Statue of Basho, my sensei

A very nice series of haiku by Ransetsu I think. I hope these will inspire you to write an all new haiku (or two). 

My attempt:

against the dark sky
the statue of Basho seems to come alive
rustling of leaves

© Chèvrefeuille

This CD Special is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until March 6th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, bridge, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form inspired on the beauties by Ransetsu with us all.


  1. What an interesting post, Chev. Really enjoyed it...and...can see the hand in Basho in someone else's haiku also! I think theis is going t be a fascinating month. I still do not know how you ind the time! I still feel a bit guilty about the length of my ebook you made so well. I was not thinking, and counted pages A4 size when writing it, but saw it was more than double that in the end. An incredible amount of work, and done so professionally! Here's hoping Chèvrefeuille's Publications grows and grows...

  2. I really like your haiku and this post is very interesting!