Shushiki (Shuushiki 秋色)
"Autumn colors"


She was the daughter of a rice cake and sweets maker.
Her husband was Kangyoku 寒玉(かんぎょく), a pupil of haiku poet Enomoto Kikaku 榎本其角. After her marriage, she tried several jobs, even cooking cheap rice meals for passers by (kendonya 倹飩屋(けんどんや). Kikaku, who loved rice wine, came by her shop often.

Her Work

お秋の酒句: Ricewine Haiku by O-Aki


The following was compiled by Larry Bole

Blyth about Shuushiki :

Shuushiki, ... was the wife of Kangyoku, ... a haiku poet.
From an early age she became a pupil of Kikaku, and was famous for her verses, but most are ridiculously sentimental like the following:

kiji no o no yasashiku sawaru sumire kana

The pheasant's tail
Touches the violets

[Blyth says] The next is all right:

shimi-jimi to ko wa hada ni tsuku mizore kana

Pressing the child
Closely to my body,
Sleet falling.

The Japanese is much better than the translation 'shimi-jimi' means intensely.

oya mo ko mo onaji futon ya wakare-jimo

Parent and child
Under the same quilt;
The frost of parting.

This was written upon the death of Kikaku's younger daughter, a year before his own death. Kikaku himself had written:

shimo no tsuru tsuchi ni futon mo kakerarezu

A crane in the frost;
Even on the earth
I cannot lay a quilt.

[end of Blyth excerpt]


Ume Shuushiki (or Oaki or Ogawa Shushiki) has been mentioned before regarding haiku stones.

Here is some information about a haiku stone which has a haiku by Shuushiki on it:

idobata no sakura abunashi sake no yoi

by drunkards
the cherry tree at the well

trans. Ad G. Blankestijn

Other translations of this haiku:

be careful be careful!
of the cherry tree by the well
you're drunk with sake

translator's name not available

The cherry by the well is dangerous for one drunken on wine
trans. Hiroaki Sato,
in The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology,
edited by Faubion Bowers

Bowers' Comment:
Is the drunk man in danger of crashing into the fragile flowering tree, or might he fall down the well?

Blankestijn's comment:
Ueno was and still is famous for its cherry blossoms. The inhabitants of the city turn out in large numbers at blossom-viewing time, so that a visit to the park has more the character of 'people-viewing.' Groups sit under the trees, showered upon by the falling blossoms. People eat and, especially, drink, and the sake is responsible for quite a hilarious atmosphere. This despite the fact that in the Edo- period Ueno was the site of solemn Kaneiji, the funerary temple of the Tokugawa.

Interestingly, there is a connection between temple and cherry trees:
the trees were planted by the third shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651), in commemoration of Tenkai, the priest who had established Kaneiji. The trees were brought from the famous cherry blossom viewing area of Yoshino, in present-day Nara Prefecture.

Jolliness is not always good for tender blossoms and slender trees.
This was already noted by Oaki, the 13 year-old daughter of a sweet shop in Nihonbashi, who wrote haiku under the literary name of 'Shushiki.' The poem, written in the Genroku area (1688-1704), became famous in the whole city. Oaki was a pupil of Kikaku, who in his turn had studied under Basho.

Because of the haiku that Shuushiki wrote about the cherry tree by the well, a story began to be told about her that made her famous as an example of filial piety.

Here is a version of the story, from a site where it explains an ukiyo-e print by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (the print is shown on the site):

Ome Shushiki (1668-1725) was a student of Kikaku, a disciple of Basho, who made her name as a haiku poet at age thirteen, when she wrote a poem about the cherry blossoms at a temple and fastened it to the branch of a tree. Apparently, the abbot read the poem and was impressed enough to provide her with a litter in which to ride home. The story began its life when word got around that she allowed her father to use the litter while she walked. Eventually, the tale became that her father was an aged litter bearer with whom his daughter lived her life, taking the best care of him and studying poetry as she could make time.
It is that version that is illustrated here.
copyright Sinister Designs
© http://www.sinister-designs.com/

More about this print:

"Honcho chuko kagami"
"A mirror of filial Piety in Japan"

Jinbei, aged 60 was a palanguin bearer, living with his daughter at Toshima-gun in Edo. His daughter was always dutiful to him and learned poems by herself. She became a master of making poems and was called Shushiki. The cherry blossoms at the Toeizan Temple are called

And here is a site featuring another ukiyo-e print about Shuushiki, done by Utagawa, Kuniyoshi ("Shushiki the poetress wearing her father's overcoat in a shower of rain. From the series Stories of Remarkable Persons of Loyalty and High Reputation."):
© Robyn Buntin of Honolulu 2006
© http://www.robynbuntin.com/


A kodan story 講談 - Shuushiki Sakura 秋色桜, tells about Shushiki, who observed a drunkard near Kiyomizu temple in Ueno, almost falling down the deep cliff, wrote her haiku and tied it to the tree, as it was custom a that time. A monk took off all the poems and brought them to the head priest, who in turn was taken by this observation of Shushiki. Thus she became even more famous.


Shuushiki is described as either the "wife of a cookie-shop owner" (according to Faubion Bowers) or else as being "born into a family with a cake-baking business" (according to Yoel Hoffmann, who goes on to say, "She married into a family which dealt in antiques and second-hand goods.")

Either way, apparently the bakery business still exists. Here is some information about it and its relationship to Shuushiki:

"Our business was established toward the end of the 17th century and ownership has passed from father to son for 17 generations. Our founder was originally from Osaka, but moved to Edo (present day Tokyo) in the service of a noble and opened a shop in Nihonbashi.
Eventually we moved to our present location in Mita in front of Keio University.
Several ancient texts note that the famous woman haiku poet, Shushiki, was born in our family, and so we have named our most famous confectionery after her--our "Shushiki monaka 秋色もなか".
A monaka consists of a sweet-flavored paste enclosed in a thin wafer shell, and Shushiki monaka was the first in Japan to come in three different flavors--chestnut, brown sugar and bean. "
Copyright(C)2001-2006 Toto norenkai.


Here is another translation of a poem for which I gave an earlier translation by Blyth:

kiji no o no yasashiku sawaru sumire kana

A pheasant's tail
very gently brushes
the violets

trans. Stephen Addiss

Addiss says of Shuushiki:
Shuushiki's poems became famous for their gentle and humane observations of everyday life.


Robin Gill, who calls her Shuushoku in the index to his book, "Cherry Blossom Epiphany," translates several of her haiku:

idobata no sakura abunashi sake no yoi

the cherry tree
by the well is dangerous
drunken men

beware the cherry
by the well, you people
drunk on sake

An excerpt from Gill's comment:
This 'ku', holding its punch for the last 5 syllabets, may be a bit too cleverly crafted to have been made up by the poetess at age thirteen, as legend has it. A less interesting but equally true
poem: "To the tipsy / danger lurks in the low / cherry branch" ...'namayoi ni abunashi hana no sagari-eda' (karai 1782).
[end of excerpt]

Here are the rest of Shushiki's haiku related to cherry blossoms that Gill translates:

somo ware wa kane ni younaki sakura kana

yes, for me
bells are of no use
in cherry-time

if you ask me
bells have no place here
with the blossoms

no, not for us!
we cherries have no need
for tembple bells

Gill's comment:
The bold tone of the 'ku' is superb. But, does the poet mean regular time-keeping is not needed in magical cherry-time? Or, does she find sensation enough without the addition of bells, or desire silence?
Shuushoku may be glossing Kikaku's 'ku'*, for she was his student (and became the head of his school upon his death). Or, is there a moral angle? The bells sound from temples and, as we will see, bells in Buddhism (as well as Catholicism) could carry catechism.
Cherry blossoms, ready to pass away as soon as they bloom hardly needed it, and people partying in the evernow of the bloomshade needed it even less. And, finally, could she have intended a 'woman blossom identity' posited in my last reading?
[end of comment]

* Kikaku's haiku made reference to:

kane kakete shikamo sakari no sakura kana

[Kikaku's headnote] 'at ueno's shimizu pavillion'

the bell hung
and the cherries, too
in full bloom!

the huge bell
and cherries to boot
in full bloom

Gill's comment:
Kikaku's most famous bell 'ku' is: "Edo spring / not a day a bell / is not sold" (...'kane hitotsu urenu hi wa nashi edo no haru').
In that 'ku', spring means the New Year season, the time to note the portentious and celebrate prosperity. With one huge bell per temple, it suggests a new temple built every day. 'Think of the peeling of those bells as the urban equivalent to the squealing of mice multiplied by a bountiful harvest'.

It also reflects the fact that Edo, unlike the other cities, allowed more than one temple to use large bells... . Japanese 'kane' were shaped somewhat like ours but, lacking clappers, were pounded from without. I first forced an unlikely reading of 'kakete' to come up with 'Booming bells / as if cherries in full bloom / need priming!' But, hung from the roof of a platform only ten feet or so above the ground, as will be explained later, the bell would be visible against the blossoms, unlike the case with those high up in belfries. In that 'enough'? Be that as it may, some poets did address the noise
[here the comment leads into Shushiki's above-quoted haiku]

hana no iro wa uba ni hanareyo sakuramachi

blossom color?
forget about wet-nurses &
see cherry-town!

real blossoms?
leave your nurse and go
to cherry-town

Gill's comment:
I first thought a young man was being advised by his dad that it was time to gain his first experience in the red-light district. Cherry-town ('sakura-machi') was a pleasure quarter less expensive than the more famous Yoshiwara. But the 'ku' would seem to be by a well-known female poet. Is she suggesting that women go to that part of town to see what is what?
[end of comment]

WKD : The Bells of Edo


According to Carole MacRury, in an essay in Simply Haiku, Shuushiki is "one of the few female haiku poets to write a death poem" (although how she knows that fact she doesn't say).

Here is Shuushiki's death poem, with several translations:

CLICK for more photos

mishi yume no samete mo iro no kakitsubata

Waking from my dream,
What a colour
Were the iris flowers!

trans. Blyth

Blyth's comment:
Perhaps 'iro' here also means the pleasures of the senses, the colour of our dream of a life.

Even after waking
From the dream
I'll see the colors of irises.

trans. Alex Kerr,
in The Classic Tradition of Haiku, edited by Faubion Bowers

Bowers' comment:
This was Shuushiki's death poem, meaning that when she awakens from "life's dream" she will see radiant irises. 'Kakitsubata' or rabbit-eared iris, is another five-syllable word favored in haiku. The intensely purple petals were used as dye-stuff, their color being associated with young girls. ...

I wake and find
the colored iris
I saw in my dream.

trans. Yoel Hoffmann

An excerpt from Hoffmann's comment:
Shushiki's poem reflects a viewpoint of the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, of which Sino-Japanese Buddhism is a part, as opposed to that of the older Theravada branch. ...the world of phenomenon [is] called "color" in Buddhist literature... In Shushiki's poem, she awakens from the dream world of colored irises into the world of truth, and there, too, irises are found.

The iris ('kakitsubata') grows beside lakes and marshes to a height of fifty to seventy centimeters. The wild iris blooms in May and June with deep purple flowers; the flowers of the domesticated variety may be white as well.
[end of comment]

According to Hoffmann, Shuushiki "died on the fifteenth day of the fourth month, 1725, at the age of fifty-seven."


Japanese Reference

秋色 寒玉

Related words

mishi yume no samete mo iro no kakitsubata
Is this a
one line sentence in Japanese ?
Discussion of the translation.

***** Introducing Japanese Haiku Poets 


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