Kawabata Bosha (川端茅舍)

Bosha KAWABATA (August 17, 1897 - July 17, 1941) was a Japanese haiku poet and painter who was from Nihonbashi Kakigara-cho, Tokyo Prefecture. Ryushi KAWABATA, a Japanese-style painter, was his maternal half-brother. His real name was Nobukazu KAWABATA. His other pseudonyms are "Yuboku no Tami" (Nomadic Person) and "Shunko TAWARAYA".

He was a poet of Hototogisu (the traditional haiku style) and shasei ("sketching") haiku and a pupil of Kyoshi TAKAHAMA, who called him "Kachofuei Shinkoccho Kan" (a man who shows a perfect exemplar of his art of very objective description on nature). With many Buddhist words being employed and his verse style so commanding, sonorous, and unique, his poems were called "Bosha Jodo" (Bosha's Pure Land).

Brief Personal History

Bosha was born in 1897, at Nihonbashi Kakigara-cho, Tokyo Prefecture, and was raised with his stepbrother, Ryushi. His father, Nobukichi, was a lower-ranking samurai of the Kishu Domain, and his mother worked as a nurse at a hospital, which was run by Nobukichi's younger brother. His father worked as an assistant at his brother's hospital before he opened a retail tobacco store. Bosha had written in the Hototogisu magazine that his father was a man with such a refined taste in haiku poems, Japanese-style paintings, and hand-copying of Sutra script, who even had a pseudonym "Jusando" himself. Therefore, it is considered his father had a great influence on the career paths that the brothers of Bosha and Ryushi would take.

After turning 6 years old, Bosha was sent to the Private Yurin Substitute Elementary School in 1903. After graduating from the elementary school, Bosha entered the School of the Society for German Studies (the present Dokkyo Junior High School). Because his mother and uncle worked at a hospital, he was expected by those around him, especially his father, to become a doctor one day. However, when he later took an entrance examination for entry into science and German program at the Daiichi High School, he failed. He seemed to follow the path taken by his brother, who had been self-supporting as a painter by then, gradually setting his heart on becoming a painter himself. He starts taking painting lessons at the Takeji FUJISHIMA Institute of Painting.

Also, at around 17 years of age, he began using "Bosha" as his haiku pen name and writing haiku poems with his father. He repeatedly submitted his poems to a haiku magazine "Kirara" (later called "Unbo"). Bosha became a second-type member of Saneatsu MUSHANOKOJI's "New Village", which introduced the thought of the "Shirakabaha" (White Birch Group) to him, and he would gradually become influenced by Western thought. That brought him to pursue Western painting in the field of painting, and he became a pupil of a Western-style painter, Ryusei KISHIDA. Staying at Shogaku-an, a sub-temple of Tofuku-ji Temple in Kyoto Prefecture, he diligently produced paintings and haiku poems and, at the same time, worshipped Buddha. His painting skill improved dramatically, and his still-life painting was accepted for the Shunyo-kai art exhibition.

But lung diseases such as spinal caries and tuberculosis began to undermine his body, and Ryusei, whom Bosha respected as his mater, passed away, bringing him to seriously focus on the field of haikai (a popular style of Japanese linked verse). Instead of sending his haiku poems to "Kirara", which he had continued until then, he began to concentrate on the "Hototogisu" haiku magazine to send his poems, and his poem appeared on the opening page of the magazine. After that, he became a beloved pupil of Kyoshi TAKAHAMA, and, with his talent being recognized, he became a member of the" Hototogisu" group in 1934. Later, he also became a member of the Aogiri Haiku Group selection committee.

In 1941, his lung diseases worsened, and he passed away at the early age of 44. He now rests at the Shuzen-ji Temple on the Izu Peninsula, with Ryushi and other family members.

His haiku poems in the pictorial shasei style were spun with his Western and Eastern sensibilities, and they were so brilliant that Kyoshi, who advocated the ideology of Kachofuei (very objective description on nature), called him "Kachofuei Shinkoccho Kan" (a man who shows a perfect exemplar of his art of Kachofuei).

List of Works

"Kawabata Bosha Kushu" (Collection of Haiku by Bosha KAWABATA) (1934)
"Kegon" (Avatamsa) (1939)
Hakuchi" (The Idiot) (1941)
"Shunsuikorin" (Spring Water Halo) (1947)

[Original Japanese]