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Japanese Haiku Poet Yosa Buson

Written by: Ashraful Musaddeq

Japanese haiku poet Yosa Buson or Yosa no Buson or Taniguchi Buson was born in 1716 at Kema in Settsu Province (now suburb of Osaka). He lost parents at his boyhood. He was one of the four greatest haiku masters of Japan (others were Basho, Issa and Shiki) and a brilliant painter. His poems are metaphorical and rich in visual detail.

During 1737, Buson moved to Edo (now Tokyo) and learned poetry under the haikai master Hayano Hajin. But Hajin died in 1742 and Buson toured northern areas and visited western Japan, where he painted and practiced haikai.

Following in the footsteps of Matsuo Basho, in 1744, Buson traveled through the wilds of northern Honshu and published his notes from the trip under the name Buson. In 1751, he settled in Kyoto and began to write under the name of Yosa. It is told that he took this name from his mother's birthplace (Yosa in the province of Tango).

From 1756 to 1765, he was active as a painter and gradually returned to haiku. Poetry and painting affected each other in his art. He completed his own style of painting and was using the names of Sha Cho-Koh, Shunsei (Spring Star) and others.

In 1770, Buson took the name of Yahantei (Midnight Hermitage) for his studio. During 1771, he painted a famous set of ten screens with his great contemporary Ike no Taiga, demonstrating his status as one of the finest painters of his time. In 1776, his group built a Bashoan (Basho house) for gatherings.

On 25 December 1783, he died and buried at Konpukuji in Kyoto. On his death-bed, Buson wrote:

Shira Ume ni Akuru yo Bakari to Nari ni Keri
The night almost past
Through the white plum blossoms
A glimpse of dawn

His wide-ranging haiku poems show a more objective, pictorial style than Basho's humane. He became famous both as a poet of haikai (ancestor of modern haiku) and haiga (haikai painting).

Buson's works (haikai/haiku and haiga) are found in the following books:

Yosa Buson: by: Koichi Otani (1996), Giyu no Haijin Yosa no Buson, by: Kazumi Yamashita (1996), Buson no Tegami, by: Tomotusgu Muramatsu (1990), Buson to Kanshi, by: Yukio Narushima (2001), Hyoshaku Buson Shuku, by: Ryutaro Nagata (2001), Buson Denki Kosetsu, by: Shoji Takahashi (2000), Buson: Kokon Meigin no Nagare, by: Ryutaro Nagata (2000), Buson no Sekai, by: Tsutomu Ogata (1993), Buson toHaiga, by: Rihei Okada (1993), Buson e no Michi, by: Ken Taniguchi (1995), Kakarezaru Buson no Nikki, by: Mie Takahashi (1997) and many more.

Author is a public servant, as well as a poet of Bangladesh. He used to write poems in English and Bengali.

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