Kobayashi Issa (¬—Ñˆê’ƒ Kobayashi Issa) (June 15, 1763 - January 5, 1828) was a Japanese writer of haikai (haiku) known for his hokku verses. He was born with the name Kobayashi Nobuyuki (and also known as Yataro) in Kashiwabara, Shinano province (present-day Shinanomachi, Nagano prefecture). Leaving behind a troubled family, wherein his farmer father was widowed and remarried unhappily, he studied haikai under Mizoguchi Somaru and Nirokuan Kobayashi Chikua at the Katsushika poetry school in present-day Tokyo. He eventually gained patronage from Seibi Natsume.
Despite a multitude of personal trials, his poetry reflected a subjective and childlike simplicity, making liberal use of local dialects and conversational phrases:
- In the depths of the lake,
- A peak of cloud.
- ‰ä‚Æ—ˆ‚Ä Ware to kite
- —V‚×‚âe‚Ì Asobe ya oya no
- ‚È‚¢ nai suzume
- Come with me and play,
- Parentless sparrow.
Under the pen name of Issa, Kobayashi wrote over 20,000 confessional and observational poems that still console generations of readers today. Though his hokku were very popular, he suffered great monetary instability. His most famous works are Chichi No Sh/u/en Nikki (1801, tr. The Diary at My Father's Death), and Ora Ga Haru (1819, tr. The Year of My Life).
According to the Western Calendar, Issa died on January 5, 1828 in his native village of Kashiwabara, Shinano Province (present-day Nagano Prefecture). According to the old Japanese calendar, he died on the 19th day of Eleventh Month, Tenth Year of the Bunsei Era. Since the Tenth Year of Bunsei roughly corresponds with 1827, many sources list this as his year of death.