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Ki No Tsurayuki And Matsuo Basho

1368 words - 5 pages

Even though these two authors, Ki no Turayuki and Matsuo Bashō lived in different times, they made a great travel diaries. Tosa Nikki was the first well-written travel diary in Japan and showed how to write a diary. Oku no Hosomichi was developed from the diary style of the first Tosa Nikki. In this essay, I would like to discuss about the lives of Ki no Tsurayuki and Matsuo Bashō. Then, I will show how their diaries were different. Finally, I will discuss how these diaries are similar, and although these diaries are very different, they were both written to help the people of Japan.
The author, Ki no Tsurayuki, lived from 884 to 946. He was a great poet and one of four compilers of the Japanese anthology called Kokinwakashu, or Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry. He wrote Tosa Nikki around 936. It was the first written travel diary which describes returning to Kyoto, the capital of Japan, from Tosa Province (now Kōchi Prefecture on Shikoku Island) after finishing his duty as provincial governor.
Matsuo Bashō, on the other hand was a great Japanese poet. He wrote Oku no Hosomichi which is a travel diary based on a journey he took with his disciple Kawai Sora in 1694. It was 1500-mile long journey into the rugged country side of northern Honshu which took 156 days ( Handout 15, n.d.).” He visited many shrines and places where Saigyo visited and every stop, he left poems.
Both were travel diaries, however, they were very different. During Ki no Tsurayuki’s time, only men wrote diaries and wrote them in Chinese, mostly about the affairs of state or the imperial court, not about their personal lives. As for his traveling, to go home to Kyoto is usually a happy experience. However, when he was in Tosa, he lost his daughter so he and his wife were grieving. I think he wanted to express his sorrow through a mother’s view. Therefore, surprisingly he wrote Tosa Nikki in a woman’s prospective with hiragana, not in Chinese. In the first line, the author notes, “Diaries are things written by men, I am told. Nevertheless I am writing one, to see what a woman can do (Keene, 1955).” So it was a mixture of happiness and sadness at the same time.
On the other hand, Matsuo Bashō wrote Oku no Hosomichi because of wanderlust. “It was only towards the end of last autumn that I returned from rambling along the coast (Bashō, n.d).” He must enjoy travelling because he mentions traveling last year and he is willing to start another journey again so soon. Then he expresses his heart, that maybe the gods have changed his soul inside out so that roadside seems to invite him so he can’t stay idle at home. Mostly people like to stay home and rest but he uses a metaphor here, basically saying that he is antsy and he feels like he has to be on the road. When he stays in his house, he feels all this energy and he can not stay still while the road is calling out to him. Then he even sold his house. From all these parts, I could imagine...

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