17th Century Poet: Matsuo Basho

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Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa, or Matsuo Basho most commonly known, was a 17th century poet and to this day is known as the “greatest master of the haiku”of the Tokugawa, or the Edo Era (1603-1867). During this era, Japan closed their borders to decrease the influence of the Western world. This action allowed Japanese culture to flourish. Born in 1644 in the Ueno province of Japan (today known as Honshu), Matsuo Basho grew up with his father, mother, and six siblings. His father, Matsuo Yozaemon was a low ranking samurai but his position was highly respected. Yozaemon served as samurai for a feudal lord, Tōdō Yoshitada. As Matsuo Basho grew up, he followed his father’s path and eventually became a servant to Tōdō Yoshitada. Yoshitada was a lover…show more content…
Basho and Sora walked for 1, 200 miles over the course of 156 days. They traveled through uplands and lowlands, along the coast of the Sea of Japan and mountain ranges, and into different villages. When they finally arrived in Kyoto, Basho published a book of diaries that explained daily events and other occurrences. It was called Oku no Hosomichi, or the Narrow Road to the Interior. This book was considered one of the “major texts of Japanese literature” and is in the form of several haibuns. The haibuns explain the internal and external feelings and scenes that Matsuo Basho experienced such as images in the nature around him and the imaginations of his mind along the way. The long trip deeply contributed to Matsuo Basho’s love of nature that he expressed in his writing and he aspired to reflect the environment and his emotions in his haikus. Basho hoped to bring readers to special mental states valued by Zen Buddhists and he did this through writing about themes of nature, peace, and simplicity such as flowers and the weather. Basho also wrote about different types of transitions of life such as the ever-changing and fleeting aspects of human life, such as life and death. He reminded readers that life has the most beautiful, simple things to offer and every moment is valuable. Basho went on the perilous journey in order not just in search of his inner meaning…show more content…
He embraced a courtly style in his writing and derived his historical interest from being the son of a samurai and being around nobility for most of his childhood. The Edo Era was a major part of Japan’s history. It was a time of newly opened trading borders and cities, entertainment, and excitement. This influenced Basho’s writing about daily life and how life came to be that way. Also, his long journey with his disciple Kawai Sora impacted his poetry. As was already stated, Saigyō was Matsuo Basho’s poetic hero and Basho went on a very similar journey to his. He visited various different shrines and temples along the way. For example, Basho and Sora went to see ruins from the Heian period in Hiraizumi. These ruins were an important government checkpoint that was abandoned during the Heian period. Basho and Sora also visited a battle field from the Heian Period where Minamoto no Yoshitsune had fallen in a war against the Heishi clan. Yoshitsune was a general of the Minamoto clan in Japan in the Heian period to the Kamakura period. Basho wrote a poem about the
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