Basho Issa Buson


Famous Haiku about Food

WASHOKU : Haiku Sweets 俳菓 haika

HAIKU by Matsuo Basho

START here with food haiku by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

inochi koso imo dane yo mata kyoo no tsuki

the source of life
in these taro seed potatoes - again
the moon of tonight

Tr. Greve

ah such a life
sweet potatoes again the source
of the harvest moon

Tr. Reichhold

Written somewhere in 寛文年, Basho about 25
Written in Iga Ueno, before moving to Edo.
The cut marker YA is in the middle of line 2.

kyoo no tsuki is the "moon of the taro potatoes" 芋名月
This hokku has the okashimi teasing flavor of the Danrin school of hokku.

. Sato-imo. satoimo 芋 Taro potatoe .
kigo for all autumn
- - - - - and
taneimo, tane-imo 種芋 seed potato of taro
kigo for mid-spring

imo meigetsu 芋名月 "taro moon"
the full moon in mid-autumn of the lunar calendar.
It was custom to boil the new sprouts of the taro and prepare a soup with it
"to nurrish the life of all generations".

from one satoimo サトイモ there are some generations

oyaimo 芋(おやいも) parent potato
koimo 子芋 child potato
magoimo 孫芋 grandchildren potato


asu wa chimaki Naniwa no kareha yume nare ya

by tomorrow
the Chimaki leaves from Naniwa will become dry
and become a dream . . .

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 1677, 延宝5年, Basho age 34.
Tomorrow is the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, the Boy's Festival or Seasonal Festival of the Fifth Month, Tango no Sekku 端午の節句.
This hokku has the cut marker YA at the end of line 3.

This refers to a waka by Saigyo 西行 :


Tsu no kuni no Naniwa no haru wa yume nare ya
ashi no kareha ni kaze wataru nari

In the land of Tsu,
that glorious Naniwa spring -
only just a dream?
Over the dead leaves of reeds
a harsh wind blows.

Tr. Sam Hamill

tomorrow the rice dumplings
will be just dead reed leaves
with a dream

Tr. Reichhold

. chimaki 茅巻 / 粽(Chimaki ritual rice cakes .
kigo for summer, Boy's Festival in May
with one more CHIMAKI haiku by Matsuo Basho
chimaki yuu katate ni hasamu hitai gami

. Naniwa, Osaka and Poetry .


wasuregusa nameshi ni tsuman toshi no kure

a handful of licorice leaves
on top of the rapeseed rice gruel -
end of the year

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 1678 延宝6年, Basho age 35

wasuregusa , lit. "grass of forgetting"
is another name for kanzoo 甘草 "sweet plant" - licorice, amaki あまき, amakusa あまくさ .

nameshi is a kind of rice gruel with the leaves of the rapeseed plant
nappa 菜っ葉.
Basho tops this gruel with finely cut licorice leaves to "forget the old year". These leaves were used as a traditional herb medicine for ailments of the stomach and intestines.

grass of forgetting
picked for a rice soup
the end of the year

Tr. Reichhold

. - kanzoo 甘草 "sweet plant" Licorice plant .
kigo for early summer
- - - - - kanzoo 甘草 daylily - Hemerocallis fulva - kigo for late summer

. nameshi 菜飯 "cooked rice with rapeseed leaves" .
kigo for all spring

飯あふぐ 嬶が馳走や 夕涼み
. meshi augu kaka ga chisoo ya yuu suzumi .
Basho and the cooked rice treat.


shio ni shite mo iza kotozuten Miyako-dori

even if pickled in salt
it will deliver the message -
bird of the capital

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in November 1678 延宝6年11月, Basho age 35.
This is a farewell hokku for his disciple Aoki Haruzumi, who is leaving for his hometown Kyoto.
青木春澄 (1653 - 1715)

pickled in salt
now it will send a message
the imperial gull

Tr. Reichhold

This is a parody about a waka of the
Ise Monogatari 伊勢物語:


na ni shiowaba iza koto towan miyakodori
waga omou hito wa ari ya nashi ya to

If you are true to the name you bear
there's one thing I would ask you,
bird of the capital -
does the person I love
still wait for me or not?

miyakodori is a migrating bird, the yurikamome

. miyakodori 都鳥 hooded gull .
Larus ridibundus. lit. "bird of the capital"
kigo for all winter

. Miyako 花の都 Kyoto .

MORE - Visiting Kyoto
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


kanashiman ya Bokushi seriyaki o mite mo nao

I wonder if Mo-tzu
Grieves to see the colour change
Of dropworts when cooked!

Tr. Toshiharu Oseko

"Bokusi" ideas may be closer to Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi of India.
source : kikyou0123

Written in 1680 延宝8年, Basho age 37

Does he grieve?
Mo-Tsu sees the dropwort
beeing cooked

Tr. Gabi Greve

Bokushi 墨子 Mozi, Mo-tsu is a Chinese scholar. (460- 380 BC ?)
Legend knows that he grew sad when he observed white silk threads being dyed with various pigments.
The seri dropwort gives an appetizing smell when cooked, but looses its color.
seriyaki is duck cooked with dropwort.
Basho is showing off his knowledge of ancient China.

. Chinese background of Japanese kigo .

does he grieve
the poet when he sees parsley
grow dark with cooking

Tr. Reichhold

. Japanese parcely 芹 seri, dropwort .
- - - - - another haiku by Basho
seri yaki ya susowa no ta-i no hatsu goori

Mo Di (Mo Ti), better known as Mozi (Mo-tzu) or Master Mo,”
was a Chinese thinker active from the late 5th to the early 4th centuries BCE. He is best remembered for being the first major intellectual rival to Confucius and his followers.
... The most famous of these theses is the injunction that one ought to be concerned for the welfare of people in a spirit of “impartial concern” (jian’ai) that does not make distinctions between self and other, associates and strangers, a doctrine often described more simplistically as “universal love.”
Mohist Morality
source : www.iep.utm.edu


yuki no ashita hitori karazake o kami etari
yuki no ashita hitori kara zake o kami e tari

A snowy morning
All I've got is dried salmon
To chew all alone

source : Sharon Hahn Darlin

snow in the morning -
alone with dried salmon
to chew on

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 延宝8年, Basho age 37. At Fukagawa

'Rich people enjoy themselves by eating the finest meat, and aspiring youths sustain themselves by chewing vegetable roots.
As for myself, I am a poor man.'

the morning of snow--
all alone, I chew
dried salmon meat

Tr. Ueda

The snowy morning -
being alone, I am happy
eating dry salmon

Tr. Peipei Qui

'Wealthy people eat tasty meat and strong, ambitious men eat roots.
I am just poor.'

snowy morning
all alone I chew
dried salmon

Tr. Reichhold

The morning of snow,
I find myself chewing alone
Strips of dried salmon.

Tr. Yuasa

'The rich dine on meat; sturdy youths eat vegetable roots;
but I am poor.'

snow morning:
alone, I manage to chew
dried salmon

Tr. Barnhill

. Salmon (sake 鮭) .
kigo for all autumn


. cold rice from temple Domyo-Ji 道明寺.

. fukutojiru 河豚汁 blowfish soup .

mezurashi ya yama o Dewa no hatsu nasubi
First Minden-Eggplants from Dewa


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .
- asagao 朝顔 morning glory -

asagao ni ware wa meshi kuu otoko kana

'In response to the poem about a water pepper and a firefly by Kikaku.'

by morning glories
I gobble up rice slop
like a man

Tr. Reichhold

- - -

'In response to Kikaku's firefly poem.'
Kikaku was a heavy drinker who drank day and night. Once, after drinking all night, he wrote the firefly poet at dawn.

within the grassy gate
a firefly ears nettles -
that is what I am


Master Basho, wishing to warn against his disciple's dissipation, copied the priest Honen's pledge against drinking, added this hokku to the end, and sent it to Kikaku

an eating-his-meal by-
the-morning-glories fellow,
that's me

Tr. Higginson

Season word: morning-glories.
With this poem, Bashô replied to his disciple Kikaku, who had written a sort of wild verse that goes “in a grass-hut doorway / a nettles-eating firefly / that’s me” (kusa no to ni ware wa tade kuu hotaru kana). Kikaku was relating himself to an old proverb, to the effect that some people (like him) have unusual tastes.
He was properly chagrined when Bashô retorted that his tastes were quite ordinary, and that morning glories and the usual breakfast porridge would do him just fine. In other words, for a true poet, the simple things of everyday life are enough.
source : Butterfly Dreams - PDF

with morning glories
a man eats breakfast
--that is what I am

Tr. Ueda

- - -

'A response to Kikaku's firefly poem'

one who breakfasts
with morning glories:
that's what I am

Tr. Barnhill

Larry Bole comments:
[It is interesting to me that Reichhold is the only one who translates 'meshi' as 'rice slop'. Reichhold is the only translator of the three who points out that
"Basho uses vulgar terms for eating and avoids the polite word for cooked rice, 'gohan'.
Again, admiring flowers was seen as an elegant occupation, but Basho combines the activity with the most low-class way of describing eating."
I don't know if she's right about 'kuu' being vulgar.]

Gabi wrote:
I think "meshi kuu" was the normal way for a man do describe what he was doing, not especially negative or low.

Kikaku wrote
source : google books - Makoto Ueda

In response to Kikaku's firefly poem with morning glories a man eats breakfast — that is what I am ...
based on the proverb "Some worms eat nettles":

kusa no to ni ware wa tade kuu hotaru kana

within the grassy gate
a firefly eats nettles -
that is what I am

compared to Kikaku (who liked nightly outings with the ladies) Basho states:

I am a serious type, getting up early (with the asagao) and eat my rice cooked properly (gohan o itatdaite imasu) .
source : itoyo/basho

. WKD : morning-glory, asagao 朝顔 .

by the morning-glories
I am this rice-eating
fellow . . .

Tr. Gabi Greve

This hokku has the cut marker KANA at the end of line 3.

More haiku about FOOD by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Kisakata ya ryoori nani kuu kami matsuri

Oh now Kisakata !
What special food do they eat
at the shrine festival?

Sora 曾良 (disciple of Basho)
WKD : Oku no Hosomichi 2007

HAIKU by Kobayashi Issa

hatsu-gatsuo tsuide nagara mo fuji no yama

first bonito -
it comes right after
Mount Fuji

Mt. Fuji and Haiku
Tr. Gabi Greve

first bonito, hatsu-katsuo, hatsugatsuo 初鰹
kigo for all summer

The people of the Edo period loved to eat "First" things, for the first time in a season.

Bonito that swim up north and come to the Japanese coast in early spring are called Hatsugatsuo [first bonito of the season], and they have been long enjoyed since the Edo era. Katsuura fishing harbor is a representative production area. The fresher the fish, the clearer the stomach vertical stripes are, creating a gauge for freshness. The flesh is red and its rich texture is enjoyed; it is tasty as sashimi or lightly roasted, dried and grated, or boiled in square pieces with soy sauce.
source :  www.chiba-tour.jp

hatsu-gatsuo tada hito kire mo ureba koso

summer's first bonito--
just tiny slices
for sale

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)

urimeshi ni yuu-kogarashi no kakari keri

on the food for sale
the winter wind blows
this evening

Issa, 1806
Tr. Gabi Greve

. Food vendors in Edo .

HAIKU by Yosa Buson

temakura no yume wa kazashi no sakura kana

With some sakura-ebisen

Buson-An has more rice crackers in memory of the poet

hana mangetsu 花満月 (はなまんげつ)
agesenbei 揚げせんべい

na no hana ya tsuki wa higashi ni hi wa nishi ni
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


bakesoo na kasa kasu tera no shigure kana


kaki kueba kane ga naru nari Hooryuu-Ji


石山の石に たばしる あられかな
Ishiyama no ishi ni tabashiru arare kana


渋かろか 知らねど柿の 初ちぎり
shibukaro ka shiranu do kaki no hatsu chigiri

Kaga no Chiyo-Ni

WASHOKU : Haiku Sweets 俳菓 haika

Related words

***** WASHOKU : General Information

. Basho's Food-related Haiku, Part 2 .

. Basho's Food-related Haiku, Part 3 .

Thanks to Larry Bole
for his great help with compiling the haiku.




1 comment:

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Issa about Cha no Ko

yamadera ya cha no ko no an mo kiku no hana

mountain temple -
even the sweets served with tea
shaped like a chrysanthemum

Kobayashi Issa
Tr. Gabi Greve

Wagashi, sweets from Japan

irori kara cha no ko hori-dasu yozamu kana

digging a tea cake
out of the hearth...
a cold night

korobi ne ya io wa cha no ko no jû san yo

restless sleep--
teacakes in the hut
for Ninth Month moon

Tr. David Lanoue