Takarai Kikaku

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Portrait by Oguri Kanrei (小栗寛令)

Takarai Kikaku (Japanese: 宝井其角; 1661–1707) also known as Enomoto Kikaku, was a Japanese haikai poet and among the most accomplished disciples of Matsuo Bashō.[1][2] His father was an Edo doctor, but Kikaku chose to become a professional haikai poet rather than follow in his footsteps.[2]

{{Dubious}}Kikaku is best known for his haiku, such as the one in this anecdote about him and his master:
One day, Kikaku composed a haiku,

Red dragonfly / break off its wings / Sour cherry

which Bashō changed to,

Sour cherry / add wings to it / Red dragonfly;

thus saying that poetry should add life to life, not take life away from life.[3][4] {{Dubious}} His master is known to have denigrated Kikaku's 'flippant efforts'. Kikaku wrote of coarser subjects than Bashō, and in this respect his poetry was closer to earlier haikai. Kikaku set the tone for haikai from Bashō's death until the time of Yosa Buson in the late 18th century.[2]

Kikaku left an important historical document, describing Bashō's final days, and the immediate aftermath of his death, which has been translated into English.[5]

In commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Kikaku's death, Nobuyuki Yuasa led an international bilingual (Japanese and English) renku, or collaborative linked poem, which opened with the following hokku by Kikaku:[6]

Springtime in Edo,
Not a day passes without
A temple bell sold.


  1. ^ Eighteen Haiku by Kikaku, translated by Michael K. Bourdaghs, in Big City Lit, Feb 2004 Archived 2007-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c Katō, Shūichi and Sanderson, Don. A History of Japanese Literature: From the Man'yōshū to Modern Times,Routledge, 1997, ISBN 978-1-873410-48-6 p.159
  3. ^ MBR: Reviewer's Bookwatch, October 2001
  4. ^ The Conversation Continues - Page 28
  5. ^ Takarai, Kikaku. An Account of Our Master Basho's Last Days, translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa in Springtime in Edo. Keisuisha, 2006. ISBN 4-87440-920-2, pp.15-26
  6. ^ Yuasa, Nobuyuki et al. Springtime in Edo. Keisuisha, 2006. ISBN 4-87440-920-2, pp.3-9

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