Masaoka Shiki

(1867-1902 / Japan)

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Masaoka Shiki (September 17, 1867 – September 19, 1902) was the pen-name of a Japanese author, poet, literary critic, and journalist in Meiji period Japan. His real name was Masaoka Tsunenori , but as a child he was called Tokoronosuke . Later, he changed his name to Noboru .

Shiki was a strong advocate of modernization of Japanese poetry, introducing the terms haiku to replace ... more »

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  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (5/20/2016 11:58:00 AM)

    another haiku by Masaoka Shiki:

    fuyo saite furuike no oshi yamome nari

    cotton roses flowering —
    the mandarin duck in the old pond
    is a widower

  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (1/20/2016 1:09:00 PM)

    A haiku by Shiki:

    I eat green apples
    facing to peonies
    I will die

    In this peony haiku, both 'green apples' and 'peony' are summer season words. It is usually said we should not use two season words because the haiku will be out of focus with two images. But this haiku is beautiful and it describes Shiki's character very well. Shiki liked fruit very much. When he wrote the haiku, he had eaten apples to his heart content, thinking of the famous traditional haiku master Buson, who composed famous beautiful haiku on peonies.

  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (1/20/2016 12:21:00 PM)

    At the age of 15, Shiki began to composed TANKA with 31 Japanese letters of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. He composed about 2300 tanka in his life.

    When he was 18, he became interested in short poems with 15 syllable, HAIKU, written on portraits (he liked drawing by nature; the sense of observation helped his sense of appreciation for the haiku on portraits) .
    Besides, drawing flowers and things around him later became one of his indispensable remedies for his bedridden life.
    When he was a college student in Tokyo he sometimes enjoyed word games with his friends. He also liked baseball. He is said to have introduced baseball to Matsuyama.

    When he was 22, he coughed out blood. He changed his name to Shiki, which is another name for the Japanese cuckoo 'hototogisu'.

    Since those days, he was inspired by his uncle, haiku teacher Ohara Kiju. He began to devote himself into haiku. Shiki composed over 25,500 haiku in his short life. After Ohara Kiju passed away, he began to classify old haiku according to season words. At that time there were several ways of using season words and they were different according to writers.

  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (1/20/2016 12:15:00 PM)

    Through his haiku exercise, he studied how to improve haiku and wrote a theoretical text on haiku literature, 'Haiku Taiyo', The Element of Haiku.
    At this time haiku was considered to be a low rank literature. It used to be composed in the hangout of the barbers or rikisha-men. But Shiki's 'Haiku Taiyo' inspired people and they began to think better of haiku.

    In the traditional Japanese literature, people used to attach much importance to 'yugen' and 'wabi'. 'Yugen' is the subtle and profound quiet beauty and 'wabi' is quiet refinement. These concepts are based on imagination. But Shiki made much use of realism as a methodology and also hit upon an idea of sketch, a technique of drawing and then proposed the philosopher Hegel's theory of Aufheben, Sublimation as a true literature. He thought of how to use the selection of combination with realism. He advocated 'the 3rd literature; Non imaginary and non realistic literature'.
    On his way to Tokyo, he dropped in at Nara, and composed what many consider his best known haiku:

    I bite a persimmon
    the bell tolls
    Horyu-ji Temple

    Shortly after, he suffered much agonized pain and had to be confined to his sick bed for seven years. Although he was a newspaper correspondent at Nihon Shinbun newspaper company, he could not get to work. During that painful period in bed, he initiated his haiku and tanka reform.

  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (11/5/2015 4:32:00 AM)

    there is another page (with 25 poems) at PH dedicated to Shiki... but there his name is mispelled in MasaokI ('I') .
    please, PH, can you erase that page? Thanks

  • Mostafiz Tito (4/12/2015 12:35:00 AM)

    He is my inspiration.

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