Buson Yosa Buson


Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村

享保元年(1716年) - 天明3年12月25日(1784年1月17日)
Dates for his death year differ.

Yosa Buson, or Yosa no Buson (与謝蕪村, 1716 – December 25, 1784), was a Japanese poet and painter from the Edo period. Along with Matsuo Bashō and Kobayashi Issa, Buson is considered among the greatest poets of the Edo Period. Buson was born in the village of Kema in Settsu Province (now Kema Ward in the city Osaka). His real last name was Taniguchi.

Around the age of 20, Buson moved to Edo (now Tokyo) and learned poetry under the tutelage of the haikai master Hayano Hajin. After Hajin died, Buson moved to Shimo-Usa Province (modern day Ibaraki Prefecture). Following in the footsteps of his idol, Matsuo Bashō, Buson traveled through the wilds of northern Honshū that had been the inspiration for Bashō's famous Oku no Hosomichi (奥の細道 The Narrow Road to the Deep North). Buson published his notes from the trip in 1744, marking the first time he published under the name Buson.

After traveling through other various lands, including Tango (the northern part of modern Kyoto Prefecture) and Sanuki (Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku), Buson settled down in the city of Kyoto at the age of 42. It is around this time that Buson began to write under the name of Yosa. There is speculation that Buson took this name from his mother's birthplace (Yosa in the province of Tango) but this has not been confirmed.

Buson married at the age of 45 and had one daughter, Kuno. From this point on, Buson stayed in Kyoto, writing and teaching poetry at the Sumiya. In 1770, he assumed the title of Yahantei (夜半亭), which had been the pen name of his teacher Hayano Hajin.

Buson died at the age of 68 and was buried at Konpukuji in Kyoto.

tasogare ya hagi ni itachi no Koodaiji

Koudaiji temple;
A weasel in the bush clover
at dusk.

Tr. Blyth

sumizumi ni nokoru samusa ya ume no hana

In nooks and corners
Cold remains:
Flowers of the plum

Tr. Blyth

© Wikipedia


. . . BUSON - Cultural Keywords and ABC-List . . .

- AAA - / - BBB - / - CCC - / - DDD - / - EEE -

- FFF - / - GGG - / - HHH - / - I I I - / - JJJ -

- KK KK - / - LLL - / - MMM - / - NNN - / - OOO -

- PPP - / - QQQ - / - RRR - / - SSS - / - TTT -

- UUU - / - VVV - / - WWW - / - XYZ -


Stamp with painting of Buson

Buson was a famous painter and poet and there is a lot about him on the internet if you google.
Here I will only present discussions that have come up about translations of his haiku.

. Koodaiji 高台寺 Temple Kodai-Ji . Kyoto

. Reference - Books, Articles, external LINKS - .


Buson (1716-1784) died on the twenty-fourth day of the twelfth month according to the old lunar calendar, i.e.,
the sixteenth day of the first month by the solar calendar.
In the solar calendar, year-end is in midwinter. The New Year by the lunar calendar, however, comes at the start of spring, which is one month later than in the solar calendar.
The twenty-fourth day of the twelfth month of Tenmei 3 was actually close to the coming of spring.

Read more about the lunar and solar calendar and the problem of kigo:
source : Time in Saijiki
by Hasegawa Kai

busonki buson-ki
kigo for late winter

Buson Memorial Day, Buson Ki 蕪村忌 (ぶそんき)
December 25, 1784.
Buson Death Anniversary

Shunsei Ki 春星忌(しゅんせいき)

Buson used the name of "Shunsei" (Spring Star) as a painter during his early years in Kyoto.



Später Frühling –
ich berühre den Stein
auf Busons Grab

© Angelika Wienert, 2007 / www.Haiku-heute.de

CLICK for more photos of the grave
Buson's grave


Buson teaches his disciples:

Here is what I try to teach my students. I tell them not to follow Master Soa's liberal attitude towards style but to seek out Basho's ideals of sabi and shiori and return to the haikai of olden days.
--- That is the Zen of haikai transmitted from heart to heart. Only those who do not understand this would say I am a wretched sinner who has spurned his master's teachings.

The Path of Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buson
Makoto Ueda
source : books.google.co.jp


In 18th-century Edo Japan, the study of the Chinese classics was advocated by the Tokugawa shogunate and led to renewed interest in late Ming literary culture. One result was the development of the bunjin, gentleman-scholar, after the Chinese wenren. While the bunjin had to be well versed in the Chinese classics, calligraphy and poetry, painting was considered one of his accomplishments.
The literati school of painting, bunjin-ga, also known as nan-ga, ‘southern school' of Chinese extraction, had a significant following. Its spontaneous brushwork and freedom of expression approached with high poetic content, found favour in the then kamigata area (present-day Kyoto-Osaka region), one of the first receptive to new artistic trends. Half a century earlier, the transition in the 1640s from Ming to Qing China had witnessed a considerable number of disaffected Chinese artisans leaving for Japan. Their entry was facilitated by the opening at the same time - during the Kan'ei era (1624-43) - of the port of Nagasaki to the outside world. Although their influence was limited, some minor Chinese artists managed to slip into the country, including one Shen Nanpin around whom a school in Nagasaki formed.

The opening decades of the 18th century saw some highly individualistic painters call the former capital, Kyoto, home. They included Ito Jakuchu (1713-1800), an avid naturalist, Ike no Taiga (1723-76), noted for unconventional brushwork and Maruyama Okyo (1733-95), known for realism. One bunjin drawn to the poetic tradition was Yosa Buson (1716-1784). He began life as a poet, was a monk and a master of haiku poems in the seventeen-syllable style long before he embarked on a career as a painter. Leading a peripatetic existence before settling in Kyoto, he was identified with the haiga, a genre incorporating the haiku poem and painting, which he perfected into an art form. Conversant too with the haikai, comic verses, he injected a sense of humour from his brush. He then studied the classical styles of the Chinese masters, and inscribed his literati painting with poetry as was fashionable. Experimenting with manifold styles, his work had eclecticism, yet it remained quintessentially Japanese.

source : www.asianartnewspaper.com


Compiled by Larry Bole :

ochi kochi no taki no oto kiku wakaba kana
here-and-there waterfall's sound hear young leaves 'kana'

Here and there--listen
to the sound of waterfalls--
young leaves everywhere.

Tr. based on one by Harold Henderson

the sound of waterfalls is heard--
young leaves, everywhere.

Tr. Henderson's original

far and near
the sound of waterfalls
through the young leaves

Tr. Makoto Ueda

Ueda explains that this haiku is an entry in Buson's book, "A New Florilegium" (Shin hanatsumi). This was the result of a project started by Buson in 1777. According to Ueda,
"That summer he [Buson] planned an ambitious project: he would force himself to write ten hokku each day over a span of one hundred days.

The project was modeled on 'gegyoo', a program of intense training undergone by Buddhist monks for one hundred days in summer. Poetic gegyoo had been undertaken before by writers of haikai, notably by Kikaku, one of Sooa's [Buson's teacher; studied under Kikaku and Ransetsu] mentors.

In 1690, in order to commemorate the fourth anniversary of his mother's death, Kikaku wrote one hokku each day for one hundred days and recorded the poems in a volume entitled "A Florilegium" (Hanatsumi). ... Buson planned doing a similar project at a more intense pace. There is no hard evidence to explain why he wanted to do the project at this particular time, but in view of the fact that a gegyoo is usually done in a special anniversary year, it has been speculated that 1777 was the fiftieth anniversary of his mother's death."

According to Ueda, Buson's quoted hokku "suggests an invisible but vigorous force of nature that is carried by water to the roots of the trees. The vastness of the woods is conveyed aurally through the sounds of the waterfalls located at various distances from the poet."


Ochi-kochi ni Taki no oto kiku Wakaba kana.

Young leaves --
The sound of a waterfall
Heard from far and near.

Tr. ?

Suzushisa ya Kane o hanaruru Kane no koe.

The sound of the bell
Leaving the bell.

Tr. ?


CLICK for more photos
与謝蕪村画「田楽茶屋 風俗図」
Dengaku Chaya Teahouse
by Painter Buson

いっけんの ちゃみせのやなぎ おいにけり
ikken no chamise no yanagi oi ni keri
in modern Japanese

the willow tree
by the lone teahouse -
it has grown old

Tr. Makoto Ueda

The willow
by the lone teahouse
older now

Tr. Chris Drake

Discussing the translations on PMJS


An old woman looked at the scene and mumbled this to herself, im memory of her own spring.


samidare ya taiga no mae ni ie niken

monsoon rain: facing the swollen river, houses, two
samidare ya taika o mae ni ie ni ken

Monsoon rain!
Facing the swollen river,
two houses.

Robin D. Gill

Which side of the river? (2006)
A Japanese website that suggests foreigners who cannot pronounce Japanese (which is to say, people who have not mastered the vowels of romance languages, for Japanese is more or less the same) might read this ku as "Some darling yeah, tiger on my knee, year nickel," and explains, with the help of Nifty (a company) on-line translation: "The river which early summer rain fell and continued and rose is flowing. Two houses build in front of the big river. It is the spectacle pushed at any moment." A glimpse at the original Japanese shows the last sentence means that there is a danger lest the houses be carried off at any moment.

Early summer rain --
facing toward the big river,
houses, two of them"

Tr. Sawa and Shiffert

Early summer rain --
houses facing the river,
two of them

Tr. Hess

Look at some visual interpretations here

An illustration of colored cloth

Maybe the BIG RIVER is the Yodogawa?
source : www.katazome.com/buson


- Reference -

haru no kure ieji ni toki hito bakari

In the spring dusk,
distant from the homeward road,
people wandering.

Tr. Sawa, Shiffert



Winter rain on moss
soundlessly recalls those
happy bygone days

In a bitter wind
a solitary monk bends
to words cut in stone.

More Haiku Translations of BUSON - the Green Leaf


Three Haiku inspired by Buson

in a bitter wind
parched, I brave the storm’s might
to drink rain water

to remember you
quenched on autumn’s solemn truth
I carve words in stone

in fervent prayer
a solitary monk sits
speaking the rain’s truth

(K.E. inspiration nr 1)


- September 2014

Buson’s ‘sumi-e’ painting lost for 92 years found in Singapore

- quote
KOKA, Shiga Prefecture
A silk screen “sumi-e” painting by a renowned 18th century Japanese artisan was found more than 5,000 kilometers from home after disappearing 92 years ago.

The Miho Museum here on Sept. 24 announced the rediscovery of “Shoku Sando Zu” (Images of the Shu roads), painted by Edo Period (1603-1867) haiku poet and artist Yosa Buson (1716-1784) in 1778.
The work features massive mountains in the ancient Chinese state of Shu (current Sichuan province) in India ink and paint on a silk screen measuring 167.5 centimeters tall and 98.9 cm wide.
The painting was dubbed “the legendary masterpiece” when it disappeared from public eyes after being included in the art book “Buson Gashu” (Collection of Buson’s works) published in 1922.
In 2011, it was learned that a company in Singapore owned the missing artwork. Upon examination, museum director Nobuo Tsuji and other curators declared the painting an authentic work by Buson.

The museum plans to exhibit “Shoku Sando Zu” in summer 2015.
- source : Asahi Shinbun


. Buson haiku about LEEK (negi)

. the sickle to cut water rice

. the lady behind the hot spring curtain  

. Buson at the Aoi Festival 葵祭, Kyoto

. kusa kasumi mizu ni koe naki higure kana .
mist water evening . . .

. shira ume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri .
white plum blossoms at dawn

. kiri hioke mugen no koto no nadegokoro .
paulownia brazier and koto
with a painting of his pupil,
Matsumura Goshun Gekkei
松村呉春 - 松村月渓


- quote -
212 haikus from Edo period poet Buson found
TENRI, Nara -- Amongst a collection of haikus held by the Tenri Central Library here are 212 previously unknown haikus by the Edo period poet Yosa Buson (1716-1783), announced the library on Oct. 14.

The new discoveries join some 2,900 haikus by Buson that were known. The library says the new collection is called the "Yahantei Buson" haiku collection, and is thought to have previously been kept in the home of the Kyoto disciple of Buson, Teramura Hyakuchi. The collection was described in a 1934 edition of the magazine "Haiku Kenkyu," after which the collection went missing until it was acquired by the library around four years ago from a bookstore.

The collection, divided by season, is organized into two books, one for spring and summer, and one for fall and winter. The collection is thought to have been put together between around 1770 and 1790. After a careful examination of the contents, the new Buson haikus were discovered among the 1,903 haikus contained in the collection. There were 57 new spring haikus by Buson, 35 for summer, 59 for fall and 61 for winter. They also had corrections and writings in black and red thought to have been added by Buson.

One haiku, with "Bakemonodai" (monster topic) written before it, reads, "The umbrella changes form, a moon-lit night with eyes," and may have been created at a haiku gathering themed on monsters. Another haiku reads, "I am surprised by a burned field, flowering grass."

Shinichi Fujita, professor of modern literature at Kansai University and a scholar of Buson, says, "Buson's haikus have been thoroughly studied, and it is amazing that a new collection of his works would appear. If the new works are compared against the many remaining letters of Buson, we may be able to learn when and against what background the haikus were made."
- source : mainichi.jp/english/articles -

kagerō ya menage o kakete tobiaruki

flying around
with his glasses on
a dragonfly

ware yakishi no ni odoroku ya kusa no hana

in my burnt field
the surprise
of grass flowers

kasa mo bakete me no aru tsukiyo kana

my umbrella, too
becomes a one-eyed monster
this moonlit night

(translated by Emiko Miyashita and Michael Dylan Welch)


My Reference

. Yoshiwake Tairo 吉分大魯 .
A haikai student of Buson

Memorial Days of Famous People


Continued here - reference about Buson in the WKD
. Welcome to Buson in Edo 与謝蕪村 ! .

. Edo Haikai and Yosa Buson .

Introducing Japanese Haiku Poets 



haiku-shelf (Angelika Wienert) said...

Very interesting, Gabi!

My family and I visited konpuku-ji (it is mentioned in your article that Buson is buried there) in May.

Best wishes,

Gabi Greve - Enma said...

En-Oo no kuchi ya botan o hakan to su

the mouth of
the king of hell - a peony
ready to be spat out


Gabi Greve / Byobu said...

kinbyoo no usu mono wa taga aki no kaze

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 .

over the golden screen
who has hung her thin robes?
autumn wind


Gabi Greve - Buson haiku said...

a page with Buson haiku and illustrations of dyed cloth.

Buson no fuukei 蕪村の風景

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

yamainu o nogarete kiri no hijiri kana

he escaped
the wild dogs, this mendicant
monk in the mist . . .

More about the

Kooya hijiri 高野聖 Koya Hijiri

Anonymous said...

Buson poems and paintings



Gabi Greve - WKD said...

Yosa BUson, listed with the kigo he used