Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wandering Spirit - Masutaa no kaigi (meeting the master)

Masutaa no kaigi (Meeting the master)

Kichirou had made us breakfast and after morning tea he introduced me to Kikaku, one of Basho's apprentices and close friend. Kikaku was a handsome man with a bright smile and an open mind. As I let him read a few of my haiku he was excited.
"These are beautiful Yozakura".
I blushed. "Thank you, but those are just the first haiku I ever created. I just wrote them from my heart, without knowing the rules of writing haiku", I said.
"Kichirou, you have never told me that you have such a gifted, such a talented brother. His haiku are amazing".
"I didn't told you about him Kikaku, because I hadn't met him before yesterday. I knew I had a brother, we have the same father, but I didn't know when I would meet him. We ran into eachother yesterday while we were visiting our mothers graves", Kichirou said.
"Praise the gods", Kikaku laughed. "It's a great day. You my friend have found your brother".

a new day
life starts again
spring has come

© Kikaku

We enjoyed the morning. Kikaku was a nice guy to have around. He told us about his life and how he met Basho, his sensei and friend.
"I love Basho", he said. "But not as in a love relation, but as my friend. I love him for his friendship and his work as a haiku master and renga master. You have to meet him Yozakura and show him your haiku".
"I would love to meet him", I said. "And let him read my haiku. He is the goal of my journey to Edo, but I am afraid that he will be disappointed as he reads my haiku".
Kikaku laughed. "Don't worry about that. He will praise you for the beauty of your haiku Yozakura. Basho once said to me: "Kikaku now you know the rules of writing haiku ... forget them immediately. Look at the pine as it is a pine. Write from the heart and not from the mind or by using my education. Be your own master. You can do it Kikaku". Yes Yozakura that's what he said. So don't worry he will surely praise your haiku".
I was astonished. This ... Basho, that famous haiku master, saw a master in every apprentice of him. In every haiku poet!
"I would love to meet him".
"Later this afternoon I will be back at Kichirou's home and than we will visit him in his "Basho-hut". He will be glad to meet you Yozakura. I even think he will be giving you some points to work with to make your haiku better and more beautiful. I see you later today". With that said Kikaku embraced us and left.

Banana tree (Basho)

"I am so excited my brother. I don't think I can eat or drink. Finally I will meet Basho", I said.

I will see
banana tree in bloom

© Yozakura

After lunch Kichirou and I walked into the city. "Do you think we can visit the spot were dad's grocery once was?" I asked.
"Yes we can visit it".

A while later we stood at the spot were my father once had his grocery. It was now an empty spot were the people of Edo had created a beautiful garden in honor of all those Edo-people who died in the Great Fire. It was really a wonderful garden were all kinds of blossoming trees and bushes were planted. there was a nice pond in which Lotuses floated on the surface and Koi-carps were swimming around. The pond was surrounded by a path of shells and several garden lanterns. It was a wonderful, peaceful, place to be. I enjoyed the beauty and the sound of water falling made the silence stronger and deeper. It was ... like the pure land. I felt the presence of my father's spirit.
"This garden is wonderful", I whispered.
"I know my brother. I am visiting this garden regularly, because it feels like a place in honor of father", Kichirou said. I could hear the tears in his voice and my heart opened up to him. He had loved father and he had the same experiences as I had. The same memories. I kissed him on his forehead.
"I am glad that I have found you".

in the garden
between blossoms
family reunion

© Yozakura

Later that afternoon Kikaku brought me to the master. Kichirou was invited too, but he decided not to come with us.
"It's your wish Yozakura to meet Basho. You came back for him. So I will not spoil your moment with him".
It made me a bit sad, but I understood why Kichirou wouldn't come. He granted me this special moment, because he loved me and he knew how much I wished to meet Basho. I hugged him.
"Thank you my brother. I love you".
A little later Kikaku and I arrived at the "Basho hut". It was really just a hut, but it was surrounded by a garden in which the Basho tree he got from Rika, one of his apprentices, was obvious present. Next to that tree the garden was planted with Cherry trees, Jasmine and Snowball. At the back of the "Basho hut" the Wisteria was in full bloom.
In the garden, under a cherry tree, I saw a small group of people, male and female, sit on the grass. They all listened to a young handsome man who was telling them about the beauty of nature and how to become one with nature.
"That must be him", I thought. "He looks so small, but in a way he is bigger than all others".

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Kikaku coughed to get Basho's attention. Basho looked at him and smiled.
"Kikaku, my friend".
He got on his feet and walked towards us. He embraced Kikaku and gave him a kiss on his forehead.
"It is good to see you Kikaku". Than he saw me.
"And whom is this good looking young man?" He asked.
"This my friend is Yozakura he is a young haiku poet who wanted to meet you".
Basho bowed. "Welcome Yozakura. Welcome in my garden. My name is Basho". He took my hand.
"Come Yozakura let me introduce you to the others gathered here".
The others were already on their feet too as we walked towards them. I saw a nice group of people all with their own characteristics. All happy and smiling.
Basho introduced me to them one by one. Than we sat down together.
"Tell us something about yourself Yozakura", Basho said.
I told them the story of my life and how I had heard about Basho, than known as Tosei. "I was anxious to get to know you Basho. I had heard a lot of stories along the roads about you. You are the reason why I started to write haiku".
"Did you write haiku while on your way?" Ransetsu, one of Basho's apprentices, asked. I nodded.
"Please can you declaim a few of your haiku for us?"
I became nervous and I felt that I blushed.
"Don't be shy Yozakura", Kikaku said. "Your haiku are excellent".
Basho encouraged me too. "Please Yozakura".
I grabbed my rice-paper booklet from my knapsack. "These are just pieces I wrote that look like haiku, but they were written from the heart. As I told you my life wasn't easy and that made my heart cry".
"That, Yozakura, is the only way to write haiku. Right from the heart", Basho said. His disciples agreed.

spearflower berries
tempting the sparrows with their color -
graveyard in the mist

bare branches
a painting against the blue sky
leaves under my feet

moonlight on the river
thousand lanterns float to the horizon
honoring the dead

I looked around and waited. They applauded.
"Wonderfully crafted haiku Yozakura", Basho said. "But that last one can be so much stronger. Allow me to redo it?"
"Yes please", I answered. "I love to learn from you".
Basho took a piece of rice-paper and after a while he calligraphed his interpretation of the haiku I just had declaimed.

on the river
lights float to the horizon
the dead rejoice

© Basho

He gave this haiku to me.
"Thank you", I stammered. "I will keep this close to my heart in memory of today. The day I met you ... my sensei".

to be continued


  1. Wonderful. And Kikado's and Yozakura's haiku well-chosen. They are just superb.

  2. so happy to have found the story to the troiku... thank u