Yosa Buson (与謝蕪村)

Buson YOSA (Born in 1716, died on January 17, 1784) was a Japanese haiku poet and painter in the middle of the Edo Period. His real surname was either TANIGUCHI or TANI. "Buson" was a pseudonym; and his real name is unknown. It is thought that the name "Buson" was derived from a poem by a Chinese poet, Touenmei, "Returning Home". He had other names besides Buson, including Saichou and Yahantei (II) as a poet, and Shunsei and Shain as a painter.

Born in Kema village, Higashinari county, in the kingdom of Settsu (Kema-chou, Miyakojima-ku, Osaka).

At the age of 20 he went to Edo and studied Haikai under Hajin HAYANO (Soua YAHANTEI). He lived in the house that his teacher temporarily hired near Toki-no-kane bell tower in Nihonbashi-kokuchou. Around that time he was known as Saichou.

After his teacher's death in 1742, he went to live with Gantou ISAOKA in Yuki, the kingdom of Shimousa (Yuki City, Ibaraki Prefecture) at the age of 27. He admired Basho MATSUO so much that he followed in his footsteps on a trip to the Tohoku region. He first used the name Buson when he edited those notes into his Saitanchou anthology (Utsunomiya Saitanchou) in 1744 when he lived in the house of Rokyu SATO, who was Gantou's adopted son-in-law. He was living in Utsunomiya, in the kingdom of Shimotsuke (Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture).

Later he toured the kingdoms of Kango and Sanuki, and settled in Kyoto at 42. Around that time he started to use the name, YOSA. There is a theory that he got this name because his mother was born in Yosa in Tango; but the reason is not known.

He married at 45 years of age and had one daughter, Kuno. He spent the rest of his life in Kyoto, doing activities including teaching poetry at Shimahara Sumiya restaurant. In 1770, he became the second leader of the Yahantei school.

His life came to an end after 68 years, before dawn on the morning of January 17, 1784 in his house on Karasuma Nishi-Iru, Bukkouji Street, in Shimogyou-ku, Kyoto. His last poem was, "white plum blossoms/I know the dawn will break soon". His grave site is at Kinpukuji in Ichijouji, Sakyou-ku, Kyoto.

As a Haiku Poet
A master of Edo Haikai along with Bashou MATSUO and Issa KOBAYASHI, he is known as the restoration patriarch of Edo Haikai. He is also the originator of Haiku painting. He was good at making realistic yet picturesque verses.

Distressed by the lack of originality in the Haikai of the time, he promoted a return to Basho's style. He was instrumental in establishing the Tenmyou style that applied the concept of "departure from the ordinary" used in painting and poetry.

Major Works
The sea in spring/all day long rocking/rocking
Willow leaves falling/water in the brook drying up/stones everywhere
Five or six riders hurrying/to Tobadono/an autumn storm
Flowers and thorns/this road looks like the one back home
New leaves/all around, only Fuji/is left uncovered
Two or three/peony petals falling/and piling up on the ground
The joy of crossing/a river in summer/sandals in hand
Spring is passing/my heart is heavy/holding Biwa in the arm
A leek floating/in the Ekisui river/so cold
The high moon/I pass through/the poor town
Early summer rain/by the river/are two houses
Flowers of rape/the moon in the east/the sun in the west
How cool/the chimes/drifting away from the bell
In an old garden/a tea whisk is placed like a flower/camellias
After petals fall/it stands a vestige/peony
Sweet sake/the hell is near/in Mount Hakone
The inn serving blowfish soup/is lit up/all in red
One pawn shop/for two villages/a grove in winter
Bonfires burning/the frost is beautiful/Kyoto town
A wintry moon/a temple without a gate/the sky is high
Cherry petals falling/water in a paddy field/stars and moon at night
At Sumiyoshi/plums of the Tenman god/have bloomed
A short night/leaves a slice of moon/in shallow water
A night in autumn/reading an old book/a Nara priest

Collections of Haikai
Seven Buson Collections (The Snowscape, A Crow at Dawn, Four Great Poets in a Night, A Crow at Dawn 2, Tohri, Gosha Hogu, Flowers and Birds, Four Great Poets in a Night 2)
A Crow at Dawn
Midnight Pleasure
et cetera


Landscape (Idemitsu Museum of Arts) 6-sided folding screen – Important Cultural Property 1763
10 Conveniences and 10 Comforts (Kawabata Foundation) Picture Album – National Treasure 1771 with Taiga IKENO
Buson painted the 10 Comforts

Red and White Plums (Sumiya Motenashi Art Museum) 4 Sliding Screens and a 4-segment Folding Screen – Important Cultural Property
Cycad Palm (Kagawa, Myouhouji) 4-sided Folding Screen (originally sliding screens) – Important Cultural Property
A Picnic in the Hills (Tyo National Museum) 6-sided Folding Screen – Important Cultural Property
Bamboo Valley Hideout (Private Collection) Hanging Scroll – Important Cultural Property
The Narrow Road to the Interior Scroll (Kyoto National Museum) 2 Scrolls – Important Cultural Property 1778
Nozarashi Travelogue (Private Collection) Set of 6 – Important Cultural Property
The Narrow Road to the Interior Folding Screen (Yamagata Art Museum) 6 Segments – Important Cultural Property 1779
The Narrow Road to the Interior Scroll Painting (Itsuo Art Museum) 2 Scrolls – Important Cultural Property 1779
New Leaves and Cuckoo (Cultural Affairs Agency) Hanging Scroll – Important Cultural Property
Cottage in Bamboo Grove and Horses under Willow Trees (Private Collection) Six-sided Folding Screen – Important Cultural Property
Spring Weather (Private Collection) Hanging Scroll – Important Cultural Property
Kites (Kitamura Art Museum) Hanging Scroll (Pair) – Important Cultural Property
Top of Mt. Gabi (Tyo, Mayuyama & Co., Ltd.) Scroll – Important Cultural Property
Tower at Night (Private Collection) Hanging Scroll – Important Cultural Property
Pines of Fuji (Aichi Prefectural Art Museum) Hanging Scroll – Important Cultural Property

In addition to those listed above, the collected paintings, poems, and letters that were passed on to the family of Buson's patron and Haikai student, Hyakuchi TERAMURA, being "materials related to Buson YOSA," have been designated an Important Cultural Property (1987, Private Collection).

Influence on Later Generations
Buson has influenced many Haiku poets. It is well known that he had an especially big influence on the innovation of Haiku poems by Shiki MASAOKA.

The 25th day of the 12th month in the old calendar is Buson Day. There are many Haiku about it.

On Buson Day/Goshun painted/a turnip (Shiki MASAOKA)
Playful in the spirit/of Buson Day/Kyotango (Getto AOKI)

[Original Japanese]