Simply Haiku: An E-Journal of Haiku and Related Forms
September-October 2004, vol. 2, no. 5

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FEATURE: Yasuhiko Shirota, Translations of Five of Yosa Buson's Haiku.

My Favorite of the Old Haiku Masters

I remember vividly when the art and haiku of Yosa Buson (1716-1784) were introduced to me in Junior High School. I had already been introduced to many of the other old haiku masters [Basho, Issa, etc.] but I believe that Buson’s haiku and drawings uniquely fermented in me for many years and were the inspiration for my later deep involvement with haiku. Buson's work now stands out for me as that which I respect most among the old masters of Japan. Thus, I set out last summer to translate some of his haiku into the English language, and am pleased to share them with the readers of Simply Haiku. As most of your readers will know, Buson is one of the most famous old haiku masters of Japan. His haiku and art focused on all five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, and his artwork is very highly regarded.

~ Yasuhiko Shirota

botan kitte ki no otoroeshi yube kana

cutting peonies
I am fatigued
in the evening

mijikayo ya kemushi no ueni tsuyu no tama

short night-
a dewdrop on
the hairy catepillar

furuike ya ka ni tobu uo no oto kurashi

run-down well-
sound of a fish too far away
to catch the mosquito

ka no koesu ninto no hana chiru tabini

voice of mosquito-
whenever a honeysuckle
flower falls

tsuki tenshi n/ mazushiki machi wo / tori keri

moon at the top of the sky
passing through town
in poverty

natsu kawa wo kosu ureshisa ya teni zori

happy, I cross
the summer river
carrying my straw slippers

seki toshite kyaku no taema no botan kana

alone in the midst
of visitors-

chirite nochi omokage ni tatsu botan kana

after falling
the white peony
fades into memory

kusa no ame matsuri no kuruma sugita ato

rain on the grass
after the festival carts
passed through

botan chitte uchikasanarinu nisanpen

a fallen peony
three petals overlap
one another

yoiyoi no ame ni otonashi kakitsubata

rain on the irises
every evening

Yasuhiko Shirota was born in Nagano City, Japan in 1941 and is a graduate of Waseda University.

He is a member of the "sakura no mi" Japanese Haiku Club and the Megura International Friendship Association, International Haiku Circle.

A selection of his haiku appeared in Simply Haiku: March/April 2004 and a photo-haiku tour of Japan appeared in Simply Haiku: May/June 2004.

Examples of Yosa Buson’s art work can be found at the following web sites: