The following listing was compiled by David G. Lanoue and taken from http://haikuguy.com/issa/search.php?keywords=Kyoto&year
Copyright belongs to D.G. Lanoue
78 haiku out of Issa’s 10,000 are set in Kyoto
rakuyô ya chito mo magaranu hatsu shigure
falling straight down
the first winter rain
miyako kana tôzainamboku tsuji ga hana
east, west, south, north…
This haiku has the prescript, “Imperial Capital,” i.e., Kyoto. In Issa’s day, this is where the emperor and his court lived. Political and military power was centered in the Shogun’s city of Edo, today’s Tokyo.
The phrase, “crossroads blossoms” (tsuji ga hana), is a euphemism for a light summer garment made of hemp: katabira. In this archive, I translate both katabira and awase as “summer kimono.” Hiroshi Kobori explains that tsujiga-hana designs were in fashion from the mid-Muromachi era until the early Edo era; they were mostly dyed purple, red, and deep indigo…”bold and marvelous.”
Makoto Ueda writes that the “blossoms” (hana) refer to the colorful kimonos worn by the people of Kyoto; Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2004) 28. Since kimono is a more widely known term than katabira, I use it in my translation, following professor Ueda’s example.
aru toki wa hana no miyako ni mo aki ni keri
there comes a time
even in blossoming Kyoto…
sick of it
In this comic haiku, all the hoopla over the cherry blossoms, after a while, gets tiresome. The “capital” (miyako) was Kyoto in Issa’s day. This is where the emperor and his court lived. Political and military power was centered in the Shogun’s city of Edo, today’s Tokyo.
kata eda wa miyako no sora yo mume no hana
one branch makes
kyô miete sune wo momu nari harugasumi
I massage my shins…
ama [no] kawa miyako no utsuke naku yaran
maybe the fools of Kyoto
Issa’s phrase, “Heaven’s River” (ama no gawa) refers to the Milky Way. The word utsuke can mean emptiness in general but also, more particularly, empty-headed people. Why is Issa poking fun at the people of the capital? Is it raining this night?
Shinji Ogawa notes that yaran makes the verb (“cry”) conjectural (“may be weeping”). He is also puzzled by this haiku.
Jean Cholley believes that Issa is alluding to the fact that refined poets of the court followed a tradition of composing repetitive and cliché poems about the Milky Way; En village de miséreux: Choix de poèmes de Kobayashi Issa (Paris: Gallimard, 1996) 235, note 19.
kyô mo kyô kyô no manaka ya fukuto-jiru
in the heart of Kyoto!
miyako ni mo kobun ari to ya fukuto-jiru
even for apprentices!
yuku kari ni nomasete yaran kyô no mizu
geese taking off
have a drink on me…
kyôbito ni setchû sareshi sakura kana
with people of Kyoto…
yûdachi ya fune kara mitaru kyô no yama
watching from a boat
natsu yama ya kyô wo miru toki ame kakaru
just when I sight Kyoto
meigetsu ya miyako ni ite mo toshi no yoru
even in Kyoto
Sakuo Nakamura notes that the full moon in decline over Kyoto might have a political dimension: “authority in ancient time all has gone away,” as the center of power in Japan has moved from imperial Kyoto to the Shogun’s city, Edo (Tokyo).
tanabata ya miyako mo onaji aki no yama
in Kyoto, the same
This haiku refers to Tanabata, a festival that takes place on the seventh day of Seventh Month. According to a romantic legend, two celestial lovers–the stars Altair and Vega–are separated by Heaven’s River (the Milky Way). One night a year (Tanabata night), they cross the starry river to be together.
haru no hi wo furikurashitaru miyako kana
on the spring day
all day, rain…
amegachi ni miyako no haru mo kururu nari
iriguchi ni yanagi no tatashi miyako kana
ume ga ka wo miyako e sasou kaze mo gana
may the wind send
this plum blossom scent
This haiku has the prescript, “Renga,” indicating that Issa wrote it as part of a series of linked verses done with other poet(s). The “capital” (miyako) was Kyoto in Issa’s day. Robin D. Gill explains that mo gana is an archaic expression of wishing: “Oh, for a wind/ to take the plum blossom scent/ to the capital.”
hototogisu miyako ni shite miru tsuki yo kana
since you’re in Kyoto
look at that moon!
ume chirite kyû ni furubiru miyako kana
plum blossoms gone
Sakuo Nakamura conjures the following image with this haiku: “The season of plum blossom has passed away. People have forgotten their joyous mood and now are going to work. The dream is over and real life has appeared. It seemed to Issa as if Kyoto has suddenly grown older.”
Sakuo’s second image is that, after the plum blossom have fallen, there is “little gorgeousness” in Kyoto.
Originally, I translated the first phrase, “plum blossoms scatter,” but Shinji Ogawa points out that (“chiru, in association with blossoms, sometimes means, ‘the season is gone’ without implying the movement of falling flowers.” The verb furubu means to become old-style; see Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1460.
ao yagi no kakaru kosumi mo miyako kana
kawahori yo yuke-yuke kyô no meshi jibun
get a move on, bat!
Or: “bats.” It is dusk, which means, from a bat’s perspective, the air is a living smorgasbord of tasty flying insects. He encourages the bat to hurry up and claim his share. In modern Japanese “bat” is pronounced, kômori. Issa pronounced it, kawahori.
ume no ki ya miyako no susu no sute-dokoro
the dumping ground for
The haiku refers to winter soot-sweeping. The plum tree, so honored in springtime, becomes the sorry site of a dumping ground.
mochi tsuki ya miyako no tori mo mina mezamu
yuku aki ya sude ni o-shaka wa kyô no sora
already the Buddha
fills Kyoto’s sky
ariake ya nattô hara wo miyako made
for a bellyful of natto
a trip to Kyoto
Nattô is fermented or “spoiled” soybeans–popular among the Japanese but, for many foreigners, a gastronomic challenge. In Issa’s time it was especially eaten in the winter for health reasons, and therefore is a winter season word.
hototogisu nanji mo kyô wa kirai shina
you also hate Kyoto
yuku tsuki ya miyako no tsuki mo hito suzumi
the moon departs–
in Kyoto even she enjoys
the cool breeze
yabuiri ga tomo wo tsuretaru miyako kana
back from holiday
the servant brings a friend…
The servant in this haiku is either leaving the capital or returning to it. I think it makes more sense to picture him returning: bringing along a new recruit from his native village to join the ranks of Kyoto servants.
miyakobe ya tako no age[ru] mo muzukashiki
a Kyoto suburb–
even flying kites
kanakugi no yôna warabi mo miyako kana
even the bracken
are like nails…
hige dono no kazasaruru nari kyô ôgi
Mr. Long-Beard’s eyes…
a paper fan from Kyoto
yoru yoru wa hon no miyako zo kado suzumi
yamaudo ya yuki no o-kage ni kyô mairi
the mountain hermit
under a bundle of snow
Yamaudo, literally, a “mountain person,” also signifies a hermit. Seasonally, this haiku pertains to summer, referring to snow and ice brought down from the mountains to make cold refreshments on hot days. The hermit is heading to Kyoto to sell his snow.
yuku na hotaru miyako wa yoru mo yakamashiki
kokora kara miyako ka kamiko kiru onna
“Are these the outskirts
woman in a paper robe
Shinji Ogawa paraphrases kokora kara miyako ka as: “Around here on does Kyoto begin?” He believes that Issa is the traveler, questioning the woman in the paper robe.
In a similar haiku of the same year (1813) he asks the same question about the more ancient capital, Nara.
uguisu no nukaranu kao ya kyô no yama
“I’m perfect” face…
The verb nukaru in Issa’s time meant to commit a careless blunder; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1270. Issa uses its negative form (nukuranu) to modify the bird’s face: the nightingale has an expression that is “not blundering.”
meshimae ni kyô e ite kuru tsubame kana
off to Kyoto and back…
hatsu-botaru miyako no sora wa kitanai zo
the sky over Kyoto
ka-bashira no ana kara miyuru miyako kana
through a hole
in the mosquito swarm…
The mosquitoes are swarming in a column (ka-bashira). Sakuo Nakamura pictures Issa, as he approached Kyoto, feeling heavy pressure to do well in this cultural and literary center. “Those pressures stood before him like a mosquito swarm.”
degawari ga kago ni meshitaru miyako kana
one migrating servant
rides a palanquin…
In springtime, old servants were replaced by young ones. The old ones would leave their employers to return to their home villages; the young ones traveled in the opposite direction. In earlier times this took place during the Second Month; later, the Third Month. The “servant” in the palanquin is a geisha or courtesan.
kyô mo kyô kyô no go jô no tsubame kana
on Kyoto’s Fifth Avenue…
muda hito ya hana no miyako mo aki no kaze
even in blossoming Kyoto
demo hana no miyako de soro ka kegare yuki
kore hodo ni kechina sakura mo miyako kana
even around here
paltry cherry trees…
Shinji Ogawa thinks Issa is referring to a single tree:
even in the capital
such a miserable
Either way, the irony lies in the fact that Kyoto would normally be expected to flaunt the loveliest blooming trees. Shinji adds, “There are many famous places for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto. The most famous place is Arashiyama, which holds 5,500 cherry trees. Some of Issa’s haiku show Kyoto-bashing. Perhaps it comes from the rivalry between Edo and Kyoto.” Edo (today’s Tokyo) was the Shogun’s center of power in Issa’s time; Kyoto was the old imperial capital.
cha nakama ya ta mo aomasete kyô mairi
miyakobe ya fuyugomori sae isogashiki
miyakoji ya umeboshi chaya no ume no hana
byôuchi no kago de degawaru miyako kana
a studded palanquin
for the migrating servant…
In springtime, old servants were replaced by young ones. The old ones would leave their employers to return to their home villages; the young ones traveled in the opposite direction. In earlier times this took place during the Second Month; later, the Third Month. The migrating worker in this haiku is a geisha or courtesan. She is riding in a “riveted” (byôuchi) palanquin.
kyô no yo ya shiroi katabira shiroi-gasa
white summer kimonos
isogu ka yo kyô ikken no hototogisu
miyako kana hashi no shita ni mo toshiwasure
even under bridges
drinking away the year
Or: “under a bridge.”
momoshiki ya miyako wa neko mo futon kana
in Kyoto even cats
kyôbito ya higasu no kage no no-sakamori
people of Kyoto
in parasol shade
sasu totemo miyako no ka nari yûsuzumi
though they bite
they’re Kyoto mosquitoes…
Totemo has an old meaning: temo (“even though”); Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1171.
kyô wo dete hito iki tsuku ka hatsu hotaru
after leaving Kyoto
catching your breath?
Issa sees a firefly “resting,” perhaps on a blade of grass. He humorously implies that it’s catching its breath after the excitement of touring Kyoto. Kyô wo dete, as Shinji Ogawa notes, means “after leaving Kyoto.”
kyô iri no koe wo age keri shinano-goma
he lets loose a neigh…
miyako [de] wa kiku mo kamuru ya wata eboshi
even for chrysanthmums…
cotton courtier caps
In elegant Kyoto, even chrysanthemums wear impressive headgear–to protect them from the elements? In another text, Issa copies this haiku using the more standard verb kaburu (“to wear on the head”) in place of kamuru.
shibugaki wo koraete kuu ya miyako no ko
miyako no ko kaki no shibusa wo kakushi keri
pretending the persimmon
Actually, the persimmon is astringent, but the child hides this fact (kakushi).
This haiku recalls one that Issa wrote in 1809:
yabuiri ga kaki no shibusa wo kakushi keri
pretending the persimmon
sekizoro mo samisen ni noru miyako kana
a samisen joins
the Twelfth Month singers…
Here, an elegant geisha playing a samisen adds her music to that of some roving beggar-singers–a wonderful expression of harmony transcending social classes. A samisen is a long-necked, three-stringed banjo-like instrument, plucked with a plectrum. Sekizoro refers to a Twelfth Month custom in which strolling singers wandered from town to town, singing festive celebration songs; Kiyose (Tokyo: Kakugawa Shoten, 1984) 348. Shinji Ogawa adds, “They covered their mouths like ladies in the Arab countries. They usually consisted of three or four persons with some types of musical instruments.”
mijika yo wo hashi de sorou ya kyô mairi
in the short night
crossing bridges en masse…
torô mi no asa kara sawagu miyako kana
Bon lantern viewing
from morning on a ruckus…
keijin ya wara tataku sae sayo-ginuta
even beat their straw!
In Japan and Korea, fulling-blocks were used to pound fabric and bedding. The fabric was laid over a flat stone, covered with paper, and pounded, making a distinctive sound. In this haiku, Issa marvels that the people in the capital pound not only cloth but straw (mats) as well.
karakasa no shizuku mo kasumu miyako kana
kyô made wa hitosuji michi zo hanami-gasa
a straight line
all the way to Kyoto…
umbrella-hatted blossom viewers
tôro no hi de yonabe suru miyako kana
night work lit
by a lantern for the dead…
sumi made mo nokogiri hiku ya kyô-zumai
they even cut charcoal
with a saw!
life in Kyoto
hitori mi ya kusuri kuu ni mo miyako made
my life alone–
just to take medicine
a trip to Kyoto
“Medicine” (kusuri) is a winter season word. In a similar, undated haiku, Issa writes:
hitori mi ya ryôgoku e dete kusuri kuu
degawari ya yama koshite miru kyô no sora
crossing the mountain see…
In springtime, old servants were replaced by young ones. The old ones would leave their employers to return to their home villages; the young ones traveled in the opposite direction. In earlier times this took place during the Second Month; later, the Third Month.
hana saku ya kyô no bijin no hohokaburi
the pretty women of Kyoto
cheeks wrapped in scarves
Literally, the pretty women of the capital (Kyoto) tie cloths around their cheeks, a fashion statement that symbolizes, for Lewis Mackenzie, their secular “known-nothingness.” See The Autumn Wind: A Selection from the Poems of Issa (London: John Murray, 1957; rpt. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1984), 63.
Shinji Ogawa has his doubts about this interpretation. He writes, “It is true that the metaphoric meaning of hohokaburi (“know-nothingism”) is used in Japanese, especially in modern Japanese, quite often, but the hohokaburi itself, especially in Issa’s day, was a quite normal way to wear the tenugui (“scarf”). This was the uniform of village girls working in the fields: something he saw every day back home.” Shinji adds, “It might have been rather refreshing for him to see that Kyoto’s pretty women, too, tied scarves around their cheeks in hohokaburi style.”
abare ka no soredemo miyako sodachi kana
a pesky mosquito
yuki harau hyôshi ni miyako maguri kana
hatsu yume no fuji no yama u[ru] miyako kana
year’s first dream–
Mount Fuji is sold
Shinji Ogawa notes that in Issa’s Japan, at the end of year, special drawings were sold. It was believed that if one slept placing the drawing under the pillow, one would dream a wonderful first dream of the year. The best dream was believed to be of Mount Fuji. This is why Issa says, “Mount Fuji of the year’s first dream is sold in Kyoto.” Shinji continues: “The picture is called takara-bune, or treasure ship; it includes the seven saints of luck with rice bags.” This contextual knowledge helps us to read the haiku as Issa’s original audience might have done. However, to the modern reader unaware of this context, the translation alone, with its image of Mount Fuji being sold, is wonderfully surreal.
uguisu no deishi hirô suru miyako kana
the nightingale presents
hana miru mo zeni wo toraruru miyako kana
even viewing the cherry blossoms
hatsu hotaru tsui ni miyako wo kakenukeru
carelessly it leaves
Shinji Ogawa observes that tsui ni has several meanings:”carelessly,” “swiftly,” or “finally.” And the verb kakenukeru has two possible meanings: to “run through” or “go out of.” Therefore, six translations are possible: (1) the firefly carelessly runs through Kyoto; (2) it carelessly leaves Kyoto; (3) it swiftly runs through Kyoto; (4) it swiftly leaves Kyoto; (5) it finally goes through Kyoto; and (6) it finally leaves Kyoto.
kyô iri mo butsu chôzura no fukuto kana
entering Kyoto too
a bunch of sour-faced
Mount Fuji is sold
in Kyoto Kobayashi Issa Tr. David Lanoue ****************** The following material is taken with thanks from Gabi Greve’s blog on Issa…或時は花の都にも倦にけり
aru toki wa hana no miyako ni mo aki ni keriin time even Kyoto,
great flower of a city,
fails to dazzle
This hokku was written when Issa was staying with haikai poets in Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku during the first month (February) of 1795 during a journey through Shikoku and western Honshu that was part of a longer series of journeys through western Japan he made after finishing his apprenticeship as a young haikai poet in Edo. The hokku is part of a haibun travelog by Issa usually referred to as Record of Travels in Western Provinces (Saigoku kikou 西国紀行), and it was written at a hokku meeting with poets in Matsuyama, so it is no doubt a greeting to the local haijin. Issa also took part in a kasen renku there.
Matsuyama is a fairly warm area, and the cherries are already in bloom when Issa writes, but his hokku refers to more than cherry blossoms. He uses a traditional epithet that refers to the whole city of Kyoto, which had long been the center of the imperial court and courtly culture, including waka, renga, and haikai. The phrase hana no miyako or “blossoming/flowering capital” was often used to praise Kyoto as the greatest flowering of art and culture in all of Japan, though “blossoming” was also used to refer to the glamorous, elegant sights of the city itself and its many festivals, performances, paintings, temples, and publishers. Even in Issa’s time Kyoto maintained much of its aura as the incomparable site of the flowering of traditional culture, even though popular arts were showing as much or more creativity in big cities like Edo, Osaka, and Nagoya. This expanded sense of “blossom” is similar to the notion behind the dynamic “blossom place” in renku.
It seems likely that Issa in this hokku is suggesting that even elegantly and culturally alluring Kyoto, including its cherry trees, eventually loses its aura and that he is even more interested in the country haikai and the blossoms in Matsuyama, since they are in their own way equal to those of Kyoto. Issa, born in a farming village, probably sincerely believed this, and he never seems to have thought of settling in Kyoto. In fact, he spent much more time in rural areas during his many journeys at the end of the eighteenth century. And unknown, of course, to Issa, Matsuyama would later become the birthplace of Shiki and play an important role in the creation of modern Japanese haiku as a new genre.
Gabi Greve – Issa said…Kobayashi Issa
karakasa no shizuku mo kasumu miyako kana
(Tr. David Lanoue)
Gabi Greve – Issa said…
kyoo made wa hitosuji michi zo hanami-gasa
on one road
all the way to Kyoto —
This hokku is from the ninth month (October) of 1822, but it has the word “spring” above it in Issa’s diary. It seems to be a hokku presenting an almost ecstatic vision on a very large scale. There were two main routes linking Edo and Kyoto, one following the Pacific coast and one going through the mountains of central Honshu, but I take Issa to be referring to the Tokaido road going along the Pacific coast, since the road through the mountains branched off here and there, while the second line of the hokku says a single road road extends all the way to Kyoto. The weather near the Pacific was also warmer, so there would be cherries in bloom all the way from Edo, where the shogun lived, to Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital. The Tokaido road was 492 km (306 miles) long, and the journey from Edo to Kyoto usually took about two weeks, though travelers had a variety of inns and restaurants to choose from along the way. One thing almost every traveler wore was a wide hat woven from rush, straw, bamboo, or other materials. Some were conical in shape, others flat or rounded, but Issa says that at this time of year they all equally turn into hats for cherry blossom viewing.
The long journey was arduous for most travelers, but the hokku seems to be suggesting that at this time of year people forget their difficulties and participate in a great collective blossom-viewing walk that goes on and on dreamlike for two weeks. The physical hats look the same as they were before their wearers began the trip, but the feelings of the wearers are no longer the same. One indication of the transformation seems to be the double meaning of “on one road,” hinted at by Issa’s use of the emphatic particle zo together with it: here “on one road” can mean not only 1) traveling on one physical road but also 2) with all your heart, intently, as if possessed by the blossoms.
Sometime during the 1790s Issa wrote a somewhat similar hokku:
the season, too, perfect —
in all fifty-three towns
koro mo yoshi gojuusan-tsugi hanami-gasa
This is a farewell hokku to a fellow haikai poet who is leaving for Kyoto. The first line suggests that the man setting out is as outstanding as the season, and the hokku as a whole seems to be a prayer that his traveler’s hat turn into into a blossom-viewing hat each day as he passes through all fifty-three main inn towns on the Tokaido route to Kyoto along with many other blossom-loving travelers.