Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: poetry

Episode 297 – As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, Part 2

This week, we round out our look at the celebrated women of Heian Japan with two very different careers: that of the celebrated poet Akazome Emon and the recluse known either as Takasue’s daughter or Lady Sarashina. Plus some final thoughts on women in the Heian era.

Sources

Morris, Ivan. As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams

Watanabe, Takeshi. “Akazome Emon: Her Poetic Voice and Persona.” Yale Waka Workshop 2013 conference paper

Sato, Hiroaki. Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology.

Images

A karuta card for Akazome Emon.

Lady Sarashina would have come to the capital in a procession like this one. For a young woman, leaving the provinces would have been a big step in life.

Two pages of a transcription of the Sarashina Diary. Note the hiragana text; remember that hiragana was once known as “women’s hand.”

Akazome Emon gazes at the moon, by Hokusai.

Episode 267 – Do Not Give Up Your Life

This week, we cover poet and political activist Yosano Akiko in her drift from icon of the political left to polemicist for the ultranationalist right. What kind of life trajectory drives a person that way? Why did she follow that path? And why did she write so many poems about breasts?

Sources

Garon, Sheldon. Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life

Dollase, Hiromi Tsuchiya. “Awakening Female Sexuality in Yosano Akiko’s Midaregami.Simply Haiku: Autumn, 2005.

Rabson, Steve. “Yosano Akiko on War: To Give One’s Life or Not: A Question of Which War.” The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese 25, No. 1., Special Issue: Yosano Akiko.

Larson, Phyllis Hyland. “Yosano Akiko and the Re-Creation of the Female Self: An Autogynography.” From the same edition of the above journal.

Images

Yosano Akiko as a younger woman.

Yosano Tekkan in his prime. To be fair, he’s quite a looker, though I’m not sure he’s 400 poems-worth of good looking.

Yosano Akiko later in life.

Though one of Yosano Akiko’s missions was to push for women to not just be valued for motherhood, she herself was quite the mother — to 13 children!

Yosano Akiko and Yosano Tekkan together early in their marriage.

Though like so much else of old Tokyo, the Yosano home is no longer standing, there is a nice little monument on its former site.

Episode 249 – Every Day is a Journey

This week, we delve into the life, legacy, and style of Matsuo Basho, Japan’s most famous poet. Who was he? How did he develop his unique style? How did Japan’s most famous haiku poet end up writing before the invention of the word “haiku”? All that and more!

Sources

Ueda, Makoto. Basho and His Interpreters.

Carter, Steven D. Haiku Before Haiku: From the Renga Masters to Basho.

Carter, Steven D. “On a Bare Branch: Basho and the Haikai Profession.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 117, No 1 (Jan-March, 1997)

Images

Matsuo Basho, as depicted by Hokusai.

Bronze equestrian Basho statue in Nasu, Tochigi.

Basho meeting with two farmers celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. From Yoshitoshi’s 100 Aspects of the Moon series, early Meiji.

A painting of Basho on horseback by one of Basho’s students (Sugiyama Sanpu).

An example of Basho’s propensity for mixing images with poetry. The Hokku/Haiku here reads:
Yellow rose petals
thunder—
a waterfall

Basho in the garden of his hut. His banana tree (the original Basho) is to the right.

A bronze statue of Basho in Otsu city, Shiga Prefecture.

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