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]

Kikaku set the tone for haikai from Basho death until the time of Yosa Buson in the late 18th century;[2] and he also left an important historical document, describing Bashō's final days, and the immediate aftermath of his death, which has been translated into English.[3]

Later influence[edit]

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:[4]

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

Bashō's criticism[edit]

  • Kikaku wrote of coarser subjects than Bashō, and in this respect his poetry was closer to earlier haikai, as well as to senryu,[5] and his master is known to have denigrated Kikaku's 'flippant efforts'.
  • Comparing Kikaku's paired haiku in 'The Rustic Haiku Contest', Bashō remarked of one that "these are artifices within a work of art; too much craft has been expended here".[6]
  • 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.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ 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
  4. ^ Yuasa, Nobuyuki et al. Springtime in Edo. Keisuisha, 2006. ISBN 4-87440-920-2, pp.3-9
  5. ^ R H Blyth, A History of Haiku Vol I (1963) p. p. 132
  6. ^ Makoto Ueda, Matsuo Bashō (1982) p. 153
  7. ^ MBR: Reviewer's Bookwatch, October 2001
  8. ^ The Conversation Continues – Page 28

External links[edit]