Chomu (蝶夢)

Chomu (1732 – February 2, 1796) was a monk and a haiku poet during the mid Edo period. His first name was Kyuzo. He called himself Rakuto, Goshoan, and Hakuan. He was originally from Kyoto.


Choumu entered Hokoku-ji Temple in Kyoto (Ji Sect) and learned under Kia, and entered the Buddhist priesthood at the age of nine.

At the age of 13, he aspired to become a poet of haikai (seventeen-syllable verse), and at the beginning he learned the art under Sooku. When he visited Tsuruga in 1757, he was inspired by the provincial style of haikai which had its lineage in the poetry of Shibaku. As a result, he started to write his haikai, which had been urban until then, in the provincial style. Through interactions with poets of haikai such as Kihaku, who was also a travelling monk, and Jiryu and Bakusui, who were both from Kaga Province, he endeavored to revive haikai in the style of Basho.

He visited Gicho-ji Temple in Baba of Otsu, where there is a tomb of Basho, on the occasion of the Buddhist memorial service of the 70th death anniversary of Basho, and as he found the temple in ruin, he resolved to restore it. At the age of 35, he gave Kihaku-in Temple over to Hojibo, and built a thatched hut 'Gosho-an' at Okazaki in Rakuto (east of Kyoto). He also rebuilt Okina-do Hall of Gicho-ji Temple, and gave a large-scale celebration on the 100th anniversary of the death of Basho in 1793.

His research on Basho MATSUO's posthumous work came to fruition as the trilogy "Basho okina hokku shu" (Collection of hokku (haiku) of Basho the Elder), "Basho okina bunshu" (Collection of anthologies of Basho the Elder), and "Basho okina haikai shu" (Collection of haikai of Basho the Elder), which were the first anthology of Basho's works. His "Basho okina ekotoba den" (picture scrolls of the biography of Basho the Elder) is recognized as the serious biography of Basho. Chomu published many more of his writings. Another of Chomu's achievements includes the establishing of Awazu Library in Gicho-ji Temple.

During Horeki Era (1751 – 1763), he served as the chief priest of Kihaku-in at Amida-ji Temple (Pure Land Sect).

[Original Japanese]