In Celebration of Matsuo Basho

When we travel, we most especially enjoy immersing ourselves in new cultures. Last April we toured the Asakusa area of Tokyo. Many people strolled these special grounds, photographing the iconic 5-tiered pagoda and praying before the Shinto and Buddhist shrines. We saw a good number of people in formal kimonos, rented from nearby shops to mark a celebratory visit, perhaps a birthday, engagement or anniversary. We stood quietly in front of a temple, in awe of its gold and rich reds. Walking a bit away from the crowds, we discovered a memorial to the poet Matsuo Basho. He lived from 1644 to 1694, during Japan’s Edo period. His haiku are considered the ultimate example of this poetic form. I touched his memorial stone in awe and appreciation.

As we ended our time at Asakusa, I talked with Kaz, our guide. I learned his mother wrote and published poetry in her youth and he told me more about the continued honor that Basho is paid in his country. He gifted me with the special pen he’d been using to jot down notes, in Japanese characters. He also gave me a beautiful writing pad with cherry blossoms etched on it. I was so very touched.

Later, back at our hotel, I did a bit of research and discovered Basho’s haiku about this place:

A cloud of cherry blossoms
the chime of a temple bell
is it Asakusa, is it Ueno?

花の雲    鐘は上野か   浅草か

see with your eyes wide ~
bees visit many gardens
all have sweet nectar

Day 27 of National Poetry Writing Month. Today’s post is written for both Toads and dVerse’sHaibun Monday. ¯¯

Toads asks us to consider the ancient tea ceremony and The Way of Tea which includes a good number of suggestions on how to share tea meaningfully. One, that I used to motivate this prompt is: “See with your eyes! Listen with your ears! And if you wish to smell the fragrance, press for an explanation of every unresolved matter until your understanding is complete.”
My haiku at the end moves beyond humans appreciating other cultures and explains that even the bee appreciates nectar from many gardens. 

Frank hosts dVerse and asks us to consider how similar Basho and Shakespeare were to their cultures, in their own time and for many generations to come. He asks us to write a haibun related to one of these famous literary geniuses.

32 thoughts on “In Celebration of Matsuo Basho

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:41 pm

      It was one of our most memorable days on our trip to China and Japan.


  1. kim881 April 27, 2020 / 4:17 pm

    I admire the way you have combined the prompts, Lill, how widely travelled you are and how deeply immersed in different cultures, which shines through in your writing. How amazing that you touched Basho’s memorial stone! I love the haiku – it’s you, Lill, a wide-eyed bee visiting many gardens!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:42 pm

      I just could not believe it when we wandered in to this part of the grounds…not many people there at all and then to find the memorial. It was a very special day in our trip to Japan and China.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank J. Tassone April 27, 2020 / 4:20 pm

    A moving meditation on Basho, and in that travelogue form that he wrote so many of his haibun! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:42 pm

      Ah Frank….I’d forgotten that Basho wrote travelogues himself…..I am not a very schooled poet hence my blog title, home poet! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Frank J. Tassone April 30, 2020 / 8:30 am

        Home is where the heart is, right? And what kind of poets would we be without heart?


  3. msjadeli April 27, 2020 / 4:57 pm

    I can’t imagine how thrilling to be there, amongst those who brings Basho to life through their appreciation. I love your haiku.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beverly Crawford April 27, 2020 / 5:08 pm

    What a very special memory you have. Interesting that Basho is still so revered. How generous and thoughtful was your guide!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:43 pm

      I was so touched by the guide’s kindness. This was indeed a very special day in this trip for me.


  5. Glenn A. Buttkus April 27, 2020 / 5:22 pm

    As a world traveler, your poetics are enriched with reality, powerful sense of place. Bjorn’s poem got me thinking about these masters; Shakespeare died in 1616, so he could not have been aware of Basho, but Basho might have been aware of Shakespeare .

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:44 pm

      Glad you enjoyed, Glenn. I am praying every day for a vaccine for this insidious disease. And yes….that we can all begin to travel with our feet again, instead of just our words….even about our own cities and states!


  6. sanaarizvi April 27, 2020 / 5:52 pm

    You hit the ball out of the park with this one, Lillian!! 💝🌠

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gillena cox April 27, 2020 / 6:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing yojr travels in words and pictures. Happy Monday Lilian


    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:45 pm

      Ah….thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed….and since I am late to the reading….happy Wednesday to you!


    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:47 pm

      Thank you so much, Rosemary. You know…..I’d never heard of a haibun until I joined dVerse in 2015. I aptly chose the name “home poet” for my blog then….as I was just beginning to write poetry and discovered quickly how much I enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. memadtwo April 27, 2020 / 6:50 pm

    What wonderful memories! I like that Basho is always asking questions. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. rothpoetry April 27, 2020 / 11:26 pm

    This is beautiful Lillian. I loved your story of your visit to Asakusa. It always amazes me that Masters don’t become revered until they are dead. Your photos are wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. sarahsouthwest April 28, 2020 / 1:57 am

    your haiku is so joyful, Lill. I love the idea of the bee, sipping a little from each flower – thank you for the honey of your words. I love to travel with you, especially at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:48 pm

      Always happy to take you on journeys with me, Sarah! Glad you enjoyed!


  11. Jedediah Smith April 28, 2020 / 10:53 am

    Makes me really want to take a trip like that. It’s very effective the way you personalize and draw into the present the legacy of Basho.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:49 pm

      It was amazing, wandering off the “beaten path” of these grounds, to come upon a memorial to him!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ellecee April 28, 2020 / 12:20 pm

    Your haibun describes a beautiful trip, what a blessing for you. Your haiku is special🌹❣️🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2020 / 12:50 pm

      Oh yes…..I consider our travels in the past years a true blessing….first comes family, then health, and somewhere high on that list is the ability to experience other cultures and be amazed at all the beautiful places on this earth!


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