10 haikuists and their works

Previous Page

Chapter 5
Kyoshi Takahama
(1874 ~ 1959)

In 1898, Kyoshi Takahama assumed the direction of the haiku magazine "Hototogisu" (the Cuckoo) that Kyokudo Yanagihara (1867 ~ 1957) and Shiki Masaoka had co-founded the previous year.

Kyoshi wrote mainly novelettes since 1907 up to 1912, but from 1913 he devoted himself to the creation of haikus and bringing up of disciples. Many haikuists supported his view of haiku, and Hototogisu became an important magazine to which a great number of poets contributed their haikus.

Kyoshi's haikus are not limited to a fixed style. Among his haikus, several are splendid and virile, whereas others are subtle and delicate; several give free rein to his imagination, others describe simply daily facts. The world of Kyoshi is a true chaos, varied like a field full of wild flowers and grasses.

Defining briefly the ideas of Kyoshi, I can say that he did not like microcosms built artificially by the intelligence; he wanted to leave in his poems obscure nuances impossible to be analyzed intellectually.

He recognized Basho's great achievements, but he did not have a high opinion of his theatrical gestures. He rather preferred Boncho Nozawa (? ~ 1714), pupil of Basho, who excelled in laconic descriptions.

Kyoshi attached importance to the symbolic function of the kigo (season word), and he tried to exclude seasonless haikus completely.

A snake slipped away.
Only his eyes having looked at me
Remain in grass.

They call this flower white peony.
Yes, but
A little red.

Girls take sprouts of rice.
Reflection of water flickers
On backs of sedge hats.

Evening shades are thick
Also in the floating algae.

On the surface of the spring beach
A circle is largely drawn.

A dog is sleeping
Holding its head between the legs.
House of chrysanthemums.

I look at the river.
A banana skin
Falls from my hand.

When a thing is placed
A shadow of autumn
Appears there.

Roots of a large summer tree
On a rock
Extend in all directions.

I caught a petal fallen from cherry tree in my hand.
Opening the fist
I find nothing there.

Comes the first butterfly of the year.
"Which color?"

"Hototogisu" is a bird classified in the category of cuckoo. According to the legend, it sings violently, until it spits blood. Shiki Masaoka suffered from tuberculosis and compared himself with a hototogisu; "Shiki" is another name for "hototogisu".

Written by
Ryu Yotsuya

Next Page (Ippekiro Nakatsuka)

HOME / Index

French / Japanese

e-mail to Ryu Yotsuya and Niji Fuyuno