Haiku, haibun, and painting of Yosa Buson (1716-1783)

Yosa Buson
* Haiku. * Haibun. * The Buson One Hundred. * Time Line.

Yosa Buson (1716-1783) is:


Some haiku by Yosa Buson with some comparisons of translations from [A] Addiss, [H] Hass, [M] Merwin and Lento, [Mc] McFadden, and [U] Ueda.

A Meeting at Bashō's Hut

Someone has been tending his garden
a single cloud that was not moving
has disappeared.
[M, p.31. Note that Merwin reproduces head notes]

   tilling the field-
the unmoving cloud 
   has disappeared.
[1778: A, p.193. Addiss omits head notes]
~ o ~ o ~

the sound of the bell
as it leaves the bell.
[H, p.81]

leaving the bell,
   the voice of the bell
[1777: A, p.200] 

~ o ~ o ~

Bats flitting here and there;
the woman across the street
glances this way.
[H, p.109] 

Bats are out
a neighbor's wife
glances at me across the alley
[M, p.90] 

~ o ~ o ~

Field of bright mustard,
the moon in the east,
the sun in the west.
[H, p.93]

A Spring Scene

A field of mustard flowers
in the east the moon is rising
as the sun sinks in the west.
[M, p.59]
~ o ~ o ~

Sleeping late-
stuck to the soles of his sandals,
cherry blossoms.
[H, p.111]

Straw sandals of someone else
who has walked on cherry petals
and is sleeping late this morning.
[M, p.54]
~ o ~ o ~

   scholarly brilliance
comes forth from its bottom-
   the firefly
[1772: A, p.205]
~ o ~ o ~

How awkward it looks
the frog.
[H, p.87] 
~ o ~ o ~

Ueda's The Path of the Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buson (1998)

A joy to learn more of Buson's life and to read Ueda's translations of a large number of Buson's poems, of which Ueda (p. 157) says 2849 are hokku are know.

Sections of The Path of the Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buson by Makoto Ueda.

  1. The Beginning of the Path.

  2. The Wanderings.

    Buson went first to Yuuki, a town located some forty miles north of Edo ... Buson ended his wandering life in eastern Japan and moved westward to Kyoto in October 1751.

  3. Return to the West.

  4. More Painter than Poet.

    ... the new stage in Buson's career began more in painting than in poetry. ... a number of Buson's paintings on silk screens have survived from this period. ... By the mid-1760s, Buson had firmly established his professional reputation in the capital [as a painter].

  5. Ascent to Haikai Mastership.

  6. Detached from the Mundane.

    As a professional teacher, he was now publicly able to charge fees to amateur poets who asked him to review their verses or participate in their haikai gatherings. Yet there is hardly any evidence that he did so. For one thing, Buson considered painting his profession and primary source of income [p. 61].

    [But] With the passage of time, Buson gradually came to do some of the things expected of a haikai master. [p. 62].

  7. Toward Haikai Reform.

    The autumn of 1773 saw Buson and his group publish another major haikai anthology . . . Crows of Dawn . . . mostly written by poets of Buson's school [p. 79].

  8. In Search of Lost Childhood.

  9. Old Master with a Smile.

  10. The End of the Path.

    Buson remained an artist to the last [U, p. 154].


The Buson One Hundred

In 1777 and again in his final year, Yosa Buson (1716-1783) began a daily practice of writing ten haiku for a hundred days.

In honor of Buson, I started my own writing practice (on July 4th, 2013) to write ten haiku each day until I completed "a Buson One Hundred".

What was done:






[A]: Stephen Addiss' 2012 The Art of Haiku, Chapter 6: "Buson".

[H]: Robert Hass's 1994 The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, and Issa.

[M]: W.S.Merwin and Takako Lento's 2013 Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson.

[Mc]: Edward McFadden's "Yosa Buson-Haiku Master" in the Kyoto Journal, http://kyotojournal.org/the-journal/fiction-poetry/yosa-buson-haiku-master/

[S]: Shirane's Traces of Dreams, Chapter 2: "Bashō Myth, East and West".

[U]: Makoto Ueda's The Path of the Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buson (1998).

Time Line

Birth of Yueda Buson.

At 26, shortly after the death of his haikai master Hayano Soa (also called Hajin) Buson "began . . . ten years of wandering . . . At the end of the first year . . . symbolically changing his name from Saicho to Buson, a name whose compounds mean 'cease to be' and 'village.' And under that name he has given us more than 2500 haiku" [Mc].

Buson, writing but focusing on painting, was listed in the section of painters in Heian jinbutsu shi (Who's who in Kyoto).

At the urging of Buson's fellow poets, he declared "himself a haikai master . . . and turned professonal" [U, p. 59].

Buson and his group published another major haikai anthology . . . Crows of Dawn . . . mostly written by poets of Buson's school [U, p. 79].
Buson (age 48) built a cottage at the Konpukuji Temple to revive the memory of Bashō.

Buson publishes his book Midnight Melodies.
Buson began ". . . the self-imposed task of writing ten haiku a day for one hundred days" [A, p.211].

Buson painted illustrations for Bashō's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North".

Completion of Peaches and Plums, "the most representative book of the Buson-style renku" [U, p. 132].

Death of Yueda Buson, buried in the Konpukuji Temple.

868 haiku (divided by season) published by Buson's disciples.

~ 1797
A collection of his haibun called Shin Hanatsumi [New Picked (some translate as "Picking") Flowers] was published posthumously.

Starting in 1896, Masaoka Shiki promoted Buson's work with Haiku Poet Buson (revised 1899). "Shiki took Buson as his inspiration in establishing and leading a reform movement that successfully revived haiku as a viable poetic form for the twentieth century" [M, p. xv]. Shiki stated that Buson is "equal to, or even surpasses Bashō" [M, p. xv].

Shiki held monthly meetings to discuss with his students poems of Buson.

Links and Books.

Links and Books.

[Thanks for visiting.]