The Heart in Season: Sampling the Gendai Haiku Non-season Muki Saijiki
Translators: Yūki Itō, Tomoko Murase, Ayaka Nishikawa, Tomoko Takaki
Compiler and editor: Richard Gilbert
Preface by Yūki Itō, with Richard Gilbert
About a decade ago, Tohta Kaneko wrote An Introduction to Haiku, an illuminating presentation of haiku culture. Within, two main attitudes toward seasonal themes (kidai) or seasonal keywords (kigo) are discussed: the divergent approaches typified by Bashō and Issa. Bashō's attitude
toward kidai tends toward idealism, while Issa takes an approach related with realism. These two
attitudes to seasonal themes or keywords continue today. Bashō
lived like a traveling hermit and pursued deep philosophical thought, while Issa lived a penniless life among the masses. Bashō comes from the samurai class, while Issa hails from the farmer or peasant class. Bashō celebrates a penniless life because such a lifestyle finds sympathy with the renunciation of desire. Issa,
on the other hand, felt that such a glorification of poverty was based on the
stable status of the samurai class, and that Bashō
did not know real poverty. We might say that Bashō
is an illuminating philosopher, but he has a certain strain of idealism (“a
thing useless for daily life is beautiful” is a Bashō
aphorism), where Issa is more the realist. These two haiku poets' philosophies and attitudes toward seasonal keywords are strikingly different.
Before discussing this
point further, it seems useful to clarify some of the technical terms used.
From a philological point of view, the term "haiku" did not exist
in the Edo period (from circa 1600). Following the Meiji
revolution (1868) Japan was introduced to Western technology, philosophy,
etc., and was strongly influenced by Western art movements (e.g. Romanticism,
Impressionism). Shiki Masaoka (1867-1902) refined
and developed the hokku or haikai
into "haiku," coining the new term, and made “haiku” independent
from the hokku tradition (the first stanza of a renga). After haiku became a fully independent genre, the
term "kigo" was coined by Otsuzi Ōsuga (1881-1920)
in 1908. "Kigo" is thus a new term for
the new genre approach of "haiku." So, when we are looking
historically at hokku or haikai
stemming from the renga tradition, it seems best to
use the term "kidai." Although the term
"kidai" is itself new—coined by Hekigotō Kawahigashi in
1907! When discussing Bashō and Issa, the term "kidai"
is best applied, because both of these authors’ works are in the tradition of
hokku. It is this term which Tohta
Kaneko uses throughout An Introduction to Haiku.
Returning to Bashō and Issa, Bashō regards kidai as a
way to commune with the creative power of nature (zōke).
Bashō does not regard kidai
as a rule, but rather as a word or keyword establishing a relationship with kokoro (heart, mind). Kaneko Tohta
paraphrases: "Bashō said to his
disciples, 'find kidai for yourself. If you are
unable to do this, you cannot become a good haikaishi
(haiku poet).'" Importantly, this is not because kidai
is primary in itself, but rather that without finding an expression of
language which unites Self with zōke, one
cannot achieve a deep sense of heart (i.e. knowing). Basho also has said,
"Even if the word is not traditional kidai, in
the case that the word has enough quality to be kidai,
do choose it and use it. When you find a new kidai,
it will be a great gift for the next generation" (Kyoraishō).
The Muki Saijiki compiles these types of words as muki-kigo for the first time.
In contrast to Bashō, Issa regards kidai as language arising from daily life. For example, Issa regards snow—one of the four prototypical season‑symbols
of "most beautiful things" in Japanese poetry and cultural
tradition—as distasteful, as snow is related with the terrible hardships he
faced in his northern homeland. We see that, contrastively, Issa treats small insects and animals as kidai in a strongly compassionate manner (against the
primary locus of the tradition). Insects are companions in daily life. So, Issa sought kidai from daily
living, while Bashō sought kidai
primarily from the essential phenomenology of kokoro.
In this regard, Tohta Kaneko discusses two types of
kokoro. One is the "solitary thinker's
heart," written as 心 (kokoro). Another is "compassionate
heart," written as 情 (furari-gokoro). This difference had vanished by
the end of the Edo period, but existed when Bashō
and Issa lived. Tohta
Kaneko continues (to paraphrase) that "Bashō
is a pursuer of the 'solitary thinker's heart,' while Issa
is an impoverished person with a 'compassionate heart.' Issa
exemplifies futari-gokoro in his use of kidai."
philosophy, based to a large extent on daily life, we note that the horse and
dog are close and constant companions. It seems precisely due to this close
and constant relationship that neither of these animal species appears in any
previous saijiki. The Muki
Saijiki contains hundreds of similar examples.
In fact, none of the terms in the Muki Saijiki are generally found in regular saijiki.
A traditional saijiki normally has seven sections: jikō (time and season), tenmon
(natural phenomena), chiri (geography), seikatsu (daily life), gyōji
(seasonal events), dōbutsu (animals),
and shokubutsu (plants). Sometimes, two
sections are combined into one section; in such a case, the saijiki will have six sections. This present muki saijiki also
has six sections; however, there are no jikō
or gyōjisections, because the Muki Saijiki is
not concerned with "season." Alternatively, the editorial committee
has created new sections: ningen (human) and
bunka (culture), as contemporary haiku tends
to treat themes which are related with human society. This innovative choice
of categories is an epoch-making event in the
history of the saijiki.
In the listings below
there are three levels of category: The top level is represented by the six
overarching subjects mentioned just above. Below this level are the main
topical categories (the number "2" is placed before these terms,
and they are indicated in 'title boldface'). Example haiku may accompany
these second‑level terms, but most of the muki‑kigo
are at the third, finest level of resolution. Usage of the muki‑kigo is usually literal (the word appears in
the haiku); however, this third level of words harbors a sense of figuration.
In some examples, a haiku associated with a group of figurations may contain
an inference to one of the muki‑kigo, though
the orthography (actual word) does not appear. As well, there may be muki‑kigo given, with no example haiku to exemplify
it. In such cases sense must follow sensibility—an additional aspect of
figuration, related to the future of gendai haiku.
In the 30 pages of text
that follow are nearly 1000 muki‑kigo terms.
Many of these have several variant meanings or significances—this effort
points to the scale necessary for a useful saijiki.
This single volume is complimented by four additional volumes of roughly
equal size, one for each of the four seasons. The five volumes make up the
complete saijiki of the Modern Haiku Association.
 Except where cited, all
materials in this Preface relating to kidai and kigo were taken from haiku nyūmon
[Introduction to Haiku], Tokyo:
Jitsugyo no Nihonsha, 1997, pp. 196-217, translated
by Yūki Itō and
 For additional muki saijiki and
other kigo resources by the authors, please visit
our kigo page
Table of Contents
1 NATURAL PHENOMENA
3 setting sun
/ evening sun
3 evening sun
/ setting sun
3 blue sky
3 setting of
the sun / setting sun
3 (blue) vault of heaven / firmament / arch of sky /
3 sunset /
setting sun / evening sun
3 heaven /
sky / sphere / upper region / head, edge / head of page