Poetic Circle of Friends


Some time opened up a couple weeks ago and I rang the parents-in-law hoping to spend some time with them. As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for. They were finishing up window cleaning and floor waxing and planned to head to Iga for a visit to the Matsuo Basho (松尾芭蕉) museum. We spent the entire afternoon and evening together. It was exhausting but enjoyable and educational.

For those who are unaware, Basho is the king of haiku (俳句). For those who don’t know, haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. To shorten the explanation for today’s post I’ll approximate by saying they consist of three lines containing 5, 7, and 5 syllables, respectively. Creating a poem in this short form requires concise use of words and extensive vocabulary.

Some of the most interesting items in the museum were books in which Basho and other members of his circle of friends would take turns writing haiku. They would scratch down something interesting and pass the book on to another member. Since all the members were highly-skilled, I imagine there was a lot of motivation to excel. They liked to travel around, which would seem to be reflected in the free order of turn-taking.

I want to write more about our wonderful trip, but it can wait for a few days.


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3 Responses to “Poetic Circle of Friends”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    There’s a Basho mueseum? Cool! I love Basho. Of course I can read him only in English translation which I am sure makes the haikus very different, but still his genius manages to come through.

  2. びっくり Says:

    Translation of haiku is indeed a tremendous task. To catch the same meaning, and the same feeling, AND with the proper number of syllables, seems virtually impossible. I’ll write more about Basho and friends soon.

  3. Haiku Picturebook « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] By びっくり On my visit to the Basho Memorial Hall (芭蕉翁記念館・ばしょうおうきねんかん) we had great fun learning about […]

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