Portrait of Matsuo Basho

Welcome back to the Richmond Read-along! Today we’re reading Matsuo Basho. Matsuo Basho is the most famous Japanese poet of the Edo period, born in 1644 near Kyoto. After studying Chinese poetry and Toasim, he adopted the haikai no renga style, the opening part of which is called a hokku. Basho used hokku to create short, stand-alone poems. He made two long journeys on foot across Japan, in 1682, and in 1689 (when he covered 1,200 miles in five months). These journeys resulted in two famous collections of poems, Travelogue of Weather-Beaten Bones, and Narrow Road to the Interior.

Today we are reading “Chilling Autumn Rains;” but as Basho’s poems are by nature very short, the link below will take you to a collection of several more.

Chilling autumn rains
curtain Mount Fuji, then make it
more beautiful to see

To read more of Basho’s poetry, see his page on Poem Hunter. To read more about Matsuo Basho, see this article about him on Japan Powered.

We’ll see you tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!