The Japanese poet Yosa Buson in the shadow of art

The Japanese poet Yosa Buson in the shadow of art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yosa Buson (1716-1784) belongs to the world of Japanese poetry because his haiku is highly acclaimed, saying it mildly. This reality means that his art is secondary despite being a distinctive artist. Therefore, while the art of Buson is regarded with esteem, it is true to say that his famous legacy applies to the poetry he created in abundance.

The early life of Buson was favorable in terms of wealth because his family led a comfortable life. Yet, while Buson had options available, he took a risk by focusing on the arts.

Haiku became part of his everyday life while traveling throughout various regions of northeastern Japan. During this period, several masters of haiku enhanced his poetry to a much higher level. Of special adoration to Buson in the early period was Hayano Haijin because he wrote fondly about him in his homage titled Hokuju Rōsen wo itonamu.

It is known that Buson moved to Yosa for three years in the province of Tango between 1754-1757. Yet, apart from these three years, the cultural realm of Kyoto was his firm base from 1751 until his death in 1784. Therefore, the period of wandering around northeastern Japan to residing in a city of high culture must have created fusions of ideas.

Despite Japan mainly being isolated during the Edo Period, it is clear that Chinese high culture was still extremely potent. This reality meant that Buson focused on delightful Chinese and Japanese classics to further his knowledge – and to utilize the creativity of the written words and his own personal flow of poetry.

Buson adored Chinese poetry, studying art, reading Chinese and Japanese classics, and he idolized the highly esteemed Matsuo Bashō. Therefore, the path he chose enabled his inner soul to reach out through the medium of haiku.

Buson wrote:

Not quite dark yet
and the stars shining
above the withered fields.


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