Matsuo Bashō, born 松尾 金作 Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa, was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form. Matsuo Bashō's poetry is internationally renowned. Although Bashō is justifiably famous in the West for his hokku, he himself believed his best work lay in leading and participating in renku, he is quoted as saying, "Many of my followers can write hokku as well. Where I show who I am is in linking haikai verses."Bashō was introduced to poetry at a young age, after integrating himself into the intellectual scene of Edo he became well known throughout Japan. He made a living as a teacher, his poems were influenced by his firsthand experience of the world around him encapsulating the feeling of a scene in a few simple elements. Matsuo Bashō was born near Ueno, in Iga Province; the Matsuo family was of samurai descent, his father was a musokunin, a class of landowning peasants granted certain privileges of samurai.
Little is known of his childhood. In his late teens, Bashō became a servant to Tōdō Yoshitada in some humble capacity, not promoted to full samurai class, it is claimed he served as cook or a kitchen worker in some near-contemporaneous accounts, but there is no conclusive proof. A hypothesis is that he was chosen to serve as page to Yoshitada, with alternative documentary evidence suggesting he started serving at a younger age, he shared Yoshitada's love for haikai a form of collaborative poetry composition. A sequence was opened with a verse in 5-7-5 mora format; the hokku would be followed by a related 7-7 mora verse by another poet. Both Bashō and Yoshitada gave themselves haikai pen names. In 1662, the first extant poem by Bashō was published. In 1526, two of Bashō's hokku were printed in a compilation. In 1665, Bashō and Yoshitada together with some acquaintances composed a hyakuin, or one-hundred-verse renku. In 1666, Yoshitada's sudden death brought Bashō's peaceful life as a servant to an end.
No records of this time remain, but it is believed that Bashō gave up any possibility of samurai status and left home. Biographers have proposed various reasons and destinations, including the possibility of an affair between Bashō and a Shinto miko named Jutei, unlikely to be true. Bashō's own references to this time are vague, he was uncertain. His indecision may have been influenced by the still low status of renga and haikai no renga as more social activities than serious artistic endeavors. In any case, his poems continued to be published in anthologies in 1667, 1669, 1671, he published a compilation of work by himself and other authors of the Teitoku school, The Seashell Game, in 1672. In about the spring of that year he moved to Edo. In the fashionable literary circles of Nihonbashi, Bashō's poetry was recognized for its simple and natural style. In 1674 he was inducted into the inner circle of the haikai profession, receiving secret teachings from Kitamura Kigin, he wrote this hokku in mock tribute to the shōgun: When Nishiyama Sōin, founder and leader of the Danrin school of haikai, came to Edo from Osaka in 1675, Bashō was among the poets invited to compose with him.
It was on this occasion that he gave himself the haigō of Tōsei, by 1680 he had a full-time job teaching twenty disciples, who published The Best Poems of Tōsei's Twenty Disciples, advertising their connection to Tōsei's talent. That winter, he took the surprising step of moving across the river to Fukagawa, out of the public eye and towards a more reclusive life, his disciples built him a rustic hut and planted a Japanese banana tree in the yard, giving Bashō a new haigō and his first permanent home. He appreciated the plant much, but was not happy to see Fukagawa's native miscanthus grass growing alongside it: Despite his success, Bashō grew dissatisfied and lonely, he began to practice Zen meditation. In the winter of 1682 his hut burned down, shortly afterwards, in early 1683, his mother died, he traveled to Yamura, to stay with a friend. In the winter of 1683 his disciples gave him a second hut in Edo. In 1684 his disciple Takarai Kikaku published a compilation of him and other poets, Shriveled Chestnuts.
That year he left Edo on the first of four major wanderings. Bashō traveled alone, off the beaten path, that is, on the Edo Five Routes, which in medieval Japan were regarded as immensely dangerous.
Japanese names in modern times consist of a family name, followed by a given name. More than one given name is not used. Japanese names are written in kanji, which are characters Chinese in origin but Japanese in pronunciation; the kanji for a name may have a variety of possible Japanese pronunciations, hence parents might use hiragana or katakana when giving a birth name to their newborn child. Names written in hiragana or katakana are phonetic renderings, so lack the visual meaning of names expressed in the logographic kanji. Japanese family names are varied: according to estimates, there are over 100,000 different surnames in use today in Japan; the three most common family names in Japan are Satō, Takahashi. This diversity is in stark contrast to the situation in other nations of the East Asian cultural sphere, which reflects a different history: while Chinese surnames have been in use for millennia and were reflective of an entire clan or adopted from nobles and were thence transferred to Korea and Vietnam via noble names, the vast majority of modern Japanese family names date only to the 19th century, following the Meiji restoration, were chosen at will.
The recent introduction of surnames has two additional effects: Japanese names became widespread when the country had a large population instead of dating to ancient times, since little time has passed, Japanese names have not experienced as significant a surname extinction as has occurred in the much longer history in China. Surnames occur with varying frequency in different regions. Many Japanese family names derive from features of the rural landscape. While family names follow consistent rules, given names are much more diverse in pronunciation and character usage. While many common names can be spelled or pronounced, many parents choose names with unusual characters or pronunciations, such names cannot in general be spelled or pronounced unless both the spelling and pronunciation are given. Unusual pronunciations have become common, with this trend having increased since the 1990s. For example, the popular masculine name 大翔 is traditionally pronounced "Hiroto", but in recent years alternative pronunciations "Haruto", "Yamato", "Taiga", "Sora", "Taito", "Daito", "Masato" have all entered use.
Male names end in -rō -ta or -o, or contain ichi, kazu, ji, or dai. Female names end in -ko or -mi. Other popular endings for female names include -ka and -na; the majority of Japanese people have one surname and one given name with no other names, except for the Japanese imperial family, whose members bear no surname. The family name – myōji, uji or sei – precedes the given name, called the "name" – or "lower name"; the given name may be referred to as the "lower name" because, in vertically written Japanese, the given name appears under the family name. People with mixed Japanese and foreign parentage may have middle names. Myōji, uji and sei had different meanings. Sei was the patrilineal surname, why up until now it has only been granted by the emperor as a title of male rank; the lower form of the name sei being tei, a common name in Japanese men, although there was a male ancestor in ancient Japan from whom the name'Sei' came. There were few sei, most of the medieval noble clans trace their lineage either directly to these sei or to the courtiers of these sei.
Uji was another name used to designate patrilineal descent, but merged with myōji around the same time. Myōji was what a family chooses to call itself, as opposed to the sei granted by the emperor. While it was passed on patrilineally in male ancestors including in male ancestors called haku, one had a certain degree of freedom in changing one's myōji. See Kabane. Multiple Japanese characters have the same pronunciations, so several Japanese names have multiple meanings. A particular kanji itself can have multiple meanings and pronunciations. In some names, Japanese characters phonetically "spell" a name and have no intended meaning behind them. Many Japanese personal names use puns. Few names can serve either as surnames or as given names. Therefore, to those familiar with Japanese names, which name is the surname and, the given name is apparent, no matter which order the names are presented in; this thus makes it unlikely that the two names will be confused, for example, when writing in English while using the family name-given name naming order.
However, due to the variety of pronuncia
The Tale of the Heike
The Tale of the Heike is an epic account compiled prior to 1330 of the struggle between the Taira clan and Minamoto clan for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century in the Genpei War. Heike refers to the Taira, hei being an alternate reading of the first kanji. Note that in the title of the Genpei War, "hei" is in this combination read as "pei" and the "gen" is the first kanji used in the Minamoto clan's name; the Tale of Heike is likened to a Japanese Iliad. It has been translated into English at least five times, the first by Arthur Lindsay Sadler in 1918–1921. A complete translation in nearly 800 pages by Hiroshi Kitagawa & Bruce T. Tsuchida was published in 1975. Translated by Helen McCullough in 1988. An abridged translation by Burton Watson was published in 2006. In 2012, Royall Tyler completed his translation, which seeks to be mindful of the performance style for which the work was intended, it was famously retold in Japanese prose by historical novelist Eiji Yoshikawa, published in Asahi Weekly in 1950 with the title New Tale of the Heike.
The Tale of the Heike's origin cannot be reduced to a single creator. Like most epics, it is the result of the conglomeration of differing versions passed down through an oral tradition by biwa-playing bards known as biwa hōshi; the monk Yoshida Kenkō offers a theory as to the authorship of the text, in his famous work Tsurezuregusa, which he wrote in 1330. According to Kenkō, "The former governor of Shinano, wrote Heike monogatari and showed it to a blind man called Shōbutsu to chant it", he confirms the biwa connection of that blind man, who "was natural from the eastern tract", and, sent from Yukinaga to "recollect some information about samurai, about their bows, their horses and their war strategy. Yukinaga wrote it after that". One of the key points in this theory is that the book was written in a difficult combination of Chinese and Japanese, which in those days was only mastered by educated monks, such as Yukinaga. However, in the end, as the tale is the result of a long oral tradition, there is no single true author.
Moreover, as it is true that there are frequent steps back, that the style is not the same throughout the composition, this cannot mean anything but that it is a collective work. The story of the Heike was compiled from a collection of oral stories recited by traveling monks who chanted to the accompaniment of the biwa, an instrument reminiscent of the lute; the most read version of the Heike monogatari was compiled by a blind monk named Kakuichi in 1371. The Heike is considered one of the great classics of medieval Japanese literature; the central theme of the story is the Buddhist law of impermanence in the form of the fleeting nature of fortune, an analog of sic transit gloria mundi. The theme of impermanence is captured in the famous opening passage: 祇園精舎の鐘の聲、諸行無常の響き有り。 沙羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰の理を顯す。 驕れる者も久しからず、唯春の夜の夢の如し。 猛き者も遂には滅びぬ、偏に風の前の塵に同じ。 Gionshōja no kane no koe, Shogyōmujō no hibiki ari. Sarasōju no hana no iro, Jōshahissui. Ogoreru mono mo hisashikarazu, tada haru no yo no yume no gotoshi. Takeki mono mo tsui ni wa horobin, hitoeni kaze no mae no chiri ni onaji.
The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night. -- Chapter 1.1, Helen Craig McCullough's translation The 4-character expression "the prosperous must decline" is a phrase from the Humane King Sutra, in full "The prosperous decline, the full empty". The second concept evident in the Tale of the Heike is karma; the concept of karma says that every action has consequences that become apparent in life. Thus, karma helps to deal with the problem of both natural evil. Evil acts in life will bring about an inevitable suffering in life; this can be seen with the treatment of Kiyomori in The Tale of the Heike, cruel throughout his life, falls into a painful illness that kills him. The fall of the powerful Taira – the samurai clan who defeated the imperial-backed Minamoto in 1161–symbolizes the theme of impermanence in the Heike; the Taira warrior family sowed the seeds of their own destruction with acts of arrogance and pride that led to their defeat in 1185 at the hands of the revitalized Minamoto.
The story is designed to be told in a series of nightly installments. It is a samurai epic focusing on warrior culture – an ideology that laid the groundwork for bushido; the Heike includes a number of love stories, which harkens back to earlier Heian literature. The story is divided into three sections; the central figure of the first section is Taira no Kiyomori, described as arrogant, ruthless and so consumed by the fires of hatred that in death his feverish body does not cool when immersed in water. The main figure of the second section is the Minamoto general Minamoto no Yoshinaka. After he dies the main figure of the third section is the great samurai, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a military genius, falsely accused of treachery by his politically astute elder brother Minamoto no Yoritomo; the Tale of the Heike has provided material for many artistic works ranging from N
Ōmi Province is an old province of Japan, which today comprises Shiga Prefecture. It was one of the provinces, its nickname is Gōshū. Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, is located at the center of the province. "Ōmi" came from awaumi or "fresh-water sea" and the kanji of "Ōmi" means "an inlet near the capital". The ancient capital was near Ōtsu, a major castle town. In north of Otsu, one of the most important monastery Enryaku-ji is located on Mount Hiei. Hōjō Tokimasa, the first shikken of the Kamakura shogunate, was made daimyō of Ōmi Province in the 10th month of Shōji 2. During the Sengoku period, the northern part of the province was the fief of Ishida Mitsunari, Tokugawa Ieyasu's opponent at the Battle of Sekigahara, although he spent most of his time in Osaka Castle administering the fief of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's young son. After Ishida's defeat, Tokugawa granted the fief to his allies, the Ii clan, who built the castle and town of Hikone from the ruins of Sawayama. Takebe taisha was designated as the chief Shinto shrine for the province.
During the Edo period, it was host to five stations of the Tōkaidō and eight stations of the Nakasendō. The southern part of the province around the town of Kōka was the home of the famous Kōga ninja, one of the two main founding schools of ninjutsu. Shiga Prefecture Azai District Higashiazai District – dissolved Nishiazai District – merged into Ika District on April 1, 1897 Echi District Gamō District Ika District – absorbed Nishiazai District on April 1, 1897. Japan encyclopedia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5. Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691. Media related to Omi Province at Wikimedia Commons Murdoch's map of provinces, 1903
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside katakana; the Japanese term kanji for the Chinese characters means "Han characters". It is written with the same characters in the Chinese language to refer to the character writing system, hanzi. Chinese characters first came to Japan on official seals, swords, coins and other decorative items imported from China; the earliest known instance of such an import was the King of Na gold seal given by Emperor Guangwu of Han to a Yamato emissary in 57 AD. Chinese coins from the first century AD have been found in Yayoi period archaeological sites. However, the Japanese of that era had no comprehension of the script, would remain illiterate until the fifth century AD. According to the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki, a semi-legendary scholar called Wani was dispatched to Japan by the Kingdom of Baekje during the reign of Emperor Ōjin in the early fifth century, bringing with him knowledge of Confucianism and Chinese characters.
The earliest Japanese documents were written by bilingual Chinese or Korean officials employed at the Yamato court. For example, the diplomatic correspondence from King Bu of Wa to Emperor Shun of Liu Song in 478 has been praised for its skillful use of allusion. Groups of people called fuhito were organized under the monarch to read and write Classical Chinese. During the reign of Empress Suiko, the Yamato court began sending full-scale diplomatic missions to China, which resulted in a large increase in Chinese literacy at the Japanese court. In ancient times paper was so rare that people stenciled kanji onto thin, rectangular strips of wood; these wooden boards were used for communication between government offices, tags for goods transported between various countries, the practice of writing. The oldest written kanji in Japan discovered so far was written in ink on wood as a wooden strip dated to the 7th century, it is a record of trading for salt. The Japanese language had no written form at the time Chinese characters were introduced, texts were written and read only in Chinese.
During the Heian period, however, a system known as kanbun emerged, which involved using Chinese text with diacritical marks to allow Japanese speakers to restructure and read Chinese sentences, by changing word order and adding particles and verb endings, in accordance with the rules of Japanese grammar. Chinese characters came to be used to write Japanese words, resulting in the modern kana syllabaries. Around 650 AD, a writing system called man'yōgana evolved that used a number of Chinese characters for their sound, rather than for their meaning. Man'yōgana written in cursive style evolved into hiragana, or onna-de, that is, "ladies' hand," a writing system, accessible to women. Major works of Heian-era literature by women were written in hiragana. Katakana emerged via a parallel path: monastery students simplified man'yōgana to a single constituent element, thus the two other writing systems and katakana, referred to collectively as kana, are descended from kanji. In comparison to kana kanji are called mana.
In modern Japanese, kanji are used to write parts of the language such as nouns, adjective stems, verb stems, while hiragana are used to write inflected verb and adjective endings and as phonetic complements to disambiguate readings and miscellaneous words which have no kanji or whose kanji is considered obscure or too difficult to read or remember. Katakana are used for representing onomatopoeia, non-Japanese loanwords, the names of plants and animals, for emphasis on certain words. In 1946, after World War II and under the Allied Occupation of Japan, the Japanese government, guided by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, instituted a series of orthographic reforms, to help children learn and to simplify kanji use in literature and periodicals; the number of characters in circulation was reduced, formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established. Some characters were given simplified glyphs, called shinjitai. Many variant forms of characters and obscure alternatives for common characters were discouraged.
These are guidelines, so many characters outside these standards are still known and used. The kyōiku kanji are 1,006 characters; the list only contained 881 characters. This was expanded to 996 characters in 1977, it was not until 1982 the list was expanded to its current size. The grade-level breakdown of these kanji is known as the gakunen-betsu kanji haitōhyō, or the gakushū kanji; the jōyō kanji are 2,136 characters consisting of all the Kyōiku kanji, plus 1,130 additional kanji taught in junior high and high school. In publishing, characters outside this category are given furigana; the jōyō kanji were introduced in 1981, replacing an older list of 1,850 characters known as the tōyō kanji, introduced in 1946. Numbering 1,945 characters, the jōyō kanji list was extended to 2,136 in 2010; some of the new characters were Jinmeiyō kanji. Since September 27, 2004, the jinmeiyō k