Nozarashi Kiko (野ざらし紀行)

"Nozarashi Kiko" (Journal of Bleached Bones in a Field) is a travel record by Basho MATSUO, haikai (seventeen-syllable verse) poet in the mid-Edo Period. It consists of haikai poetry regarding the journey Basho set out upon with his disciple, Chiri, to Iga Ueno, Basho's birthplace, from August (autumn) 1684 to April of the following year. The word "Nozarashi" came from Basho's poetry, "Nozarashi o kokoro ni kaze no shimu mi kana," (bleached bones on my mind, the wind pierces my body to the heart) that he wrote at the departure of the journey. It should be noted that "Nozarashi" (bleached bone) is quite an ominous word for poetry written upon one's departure. The year of departure was Kinoene (one of the combinations of the oriental zodiac), so it is also called "Kinoene Ginko." The main component of the book is haikai poetry, and prose is used for the foreword and captions for the poetry.

Basho's aim of the journey was to visit the grave of his mother who had died the previous year; he and Chiri left Edo and traveled on the Tokaido (East Sea Road) to Ise, from where they set out for Iga Ueno to Yamato Province, Ogaki in Mino Province, and Nagoya. At the New Year, they were in Iga and then traveled through the Kyoto and Osaka area, stayed in Atsuta for a while, went across Kai Province and finally headed back to Edo.

Story Line

Basho left Edo and set out for Hakone where he found it enchanting that Mount Fuji was hidden by misty rain; in Suruga, he was walking along the Fuji River when he saw an abandoned child and wrote a poem "Saru o kiku hito sutego ni aki no kaze ika ni" (those who listen to the monkeys: what of this child in the autumn wind?) to get into Du Fu's (a Chinese poet) mindset. When he visited his mother's grave in his hometown Iga Ueno, he wrote a poem, "Te ni toraba kien namida zo atsuki aki no shimo," (should I take it in my hand it would melt in these hot tears: autumn frost). In Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka area), he wrote, "Yamaji kite naniyara yukashi sumiregusa," (on a mountain path, somehow so moving: wild violets) before he headed back home.

[Original Japanese]