Gabi Greve lives in the Okayama countryside and is known to many web users because she has compiled multiple websites of information about Japan. Born in Germany in 1948, Gabi is a medical doctor with a degree from Heidelberg University. She has been living in Japan since 1977 as a freelance translator and writer about Buddhist art. She and her husband live in Okayama Prefecture, Japan, where they opened the Daruma Museum in 2003. She began to study haiku in Kamakura about thirty-five years ago and is now the head of the WHC World Kigo Database. For the Daruma Museum and her online haiku gallery, see Daruma San in Japan, and Haiku and Happiness.


The following list of Kyoto poetry is adapted from a listing by Gabi Greve.  The original can be found at

Kyoto 京都 ”Hana no Miyako’ season word for spring

capital of blossoms“, hana no miyako 花の都
Kyoto in cherry blossoms, Kyoto during the cherry blossom season
miyako no hana 都の花 the flower of the capital (cherry blossom)

. Cherry blossoms (sakura 桜)

The Monk Sosei 素性法師 (around 910)
Kokin Wakashu Poetry Collection 古今和歌集


miwataseba yanagi sakura o kokimazete
miyako zo haru no nishiki narikeru

gazing over the capital
green willow threads entwine
soft red cherry blossoms
as if the Heian capital
had spread a spring brocade


source : yoshida

Kaiseki meal in memoriam of the above waka poem.

. Poetry and Japanese Food .


CLICK for more photos

Kyoto 京都

Heian-kyō, Heiankyoo, Heiankyo (平安京 “tranquility and peace capital”), became the seat of Japan’s imperial court in 794, beginning the Heian period of Japanese history. In Japanese, the city has been called Kyo (京), Miyako (Miako) (都) or Kyo no Miyako (京の都). Keishi (京師), meaning “metropolis”.
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Kobayashi Issa

ka-bashira no ana kara miyuru miyako kana

through a hole
in the mosquito swarm…

The mosquitoes are swarming in a column (ka-bashira).
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. 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.”
Issa, 1814 (Tr. David Lanoue)


. Fushimi 伏見 .

visited by Matsuo Basho and Yosa Buson.


Rakuchuu (洛中) Central Kyoto

Rakuchu ni kikyoo no hana ga mikka saki

in central Kyoto
bellflowers boom
three days long

Haifu Yanagidaru Senryu Collection 誹風柳多留

Temple Daikomyo-Ji 大光明寺


Shimogyo-ku (下京区)
is one of the eleven wards in the city of Kyoto. First established in 1879 as an administrativev unit, it has been merged and split, and took on its present boundaries in 1955, with the establishment of a separate Minami-ku. Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Station are major landmarks in Shimogyo-ku.
Shimogyo-ku has a population of 74,897 and an area of 6.82 km². Three rivers, Horikawa, Kamogawa and Takasegawa, are in the ward.
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Kobayashi Issa

shimogyô ya kurai uchi kara hana no haru

Shimogyo Town–
in the dark before dawn
spring blossoms

. . . . .

shimogyô no mado kazoe keri haru no kure

counting the windows
of Shimogyo Town…
spring dusk

Tr. David Lanoue


Bridges 橋 hashi

shijoo oohashi 四条大橋 big bridge at Shijo

gojoo oohashi 五条大橋 big bridge at Gojo

. Ushiwaka-maru and Benkei at Gojo Bridge .

shunsui ya Shjoo Gojoo no hashi no shita

water of spring –
at Shijo and Gojo
under the bridges

. water in spring, haru no mizu 春の水 .

source :

Bungobashi 豊後橋 Bungo-bashi Bridge
now Kangetsukyoo 観月橋 Kangetsu-kyo Bridge in Fushimi ward 伏見, spanning the Yodogawa river 淀川.

This bridge has already been there in the Kamakura period under the name Katsurabashi 桂橋
Ryoogunbashi 両郡橋 or Shigetsubashi 指月橋.  Later it was rebuilt by Toyotomi Hideyoshi at a length of about 200 meters and called Bungobashi. During the Edo period, the pillars were replaced about 18 times.

Yosa Buson

asagiri ya enokoro hitotsu Bungobashi

Misty morning.
The sleeping Bungo-bridge
is crossed by a puppy.
Tr. ? – source Terebess

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


Oohara 大原 Ohara Kyoto

Ohara is a rural town nestled in the mountains of northern Kyoto, about one hour from Kyoto Station, but still technically located within Kyoto’s city limits. Ohara is best known for Sanzenin Temple and particularly popular in mid November during the autumn leaf season, which typically occurs about one week earlier than in central Kyoto.

source :

by Kitao Shigemasa 北尾重政

Ohara is also famous for the “women from Ohara”, ooharame 大原女, Oharame, who used to carry vegetabels and firewood to the market in Kyoto and make a good living.

observance kigo for late winter

oohara zakone 大原雑魚寝 (おおはらざこね)
sleeping together at Ohara
…. zakone 雑魚寝(ざこね) “group sleep”
“like all kind of fish”, all crowded together on the night before setsubun, February 3 at shrine 江文神社 Ebumi Jinja

This is the night of the zakone in Ohara,when all the people of the village, young and old of both sexes, masters and servants, all are allowed to lie down together and sleep in the Ebumi shrine. It is a kind of vigil before setsubun, a religious custom, and for once no restrictions whatsoever are placed on what the sleepers may venture to do. Many couples found together on this night.
This is based on a legend of a large man-eating snake, which came down to the village when hungry, and the villagers all bundled together to be safe.
But it has been forbidden to do this since the Meiji period.

The custom of zakone is also alive in other temples and shrines in Japan, sometimes during O-Bon in autumn or on the last night of the year.

Kobayashi Issa 一茶

karabito to zakone mo suran onna kana

lying down together
with people from China –
these women

Tr. Gabi Greve


Yosa Buson

nishiki ki no tachigiki mo naku zakone kana

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


Takada Chooi

zakonebuton yume no sairoo koe-aruku

The Philosopher’s Path   tetsugaku no michi 哲学の径 / 哲学の道
a pedestrian path that follows a cherry-tree-lined canal in Kyoto, between Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji. The route is so-named because the influential 20th century Japanese philosopher and Kyoto University professor Nishida Kitaro is thought to have used it for daily meditation. It passes a number of temples and shrines such as Hōnen-in, Ōtoyo Shrine, and Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the walk, although many people spend more time visiting the sights along the way. On the norther part of the walk, there are good views of the nearby Daimonji. The walk is a popular destination for tourists and locals, especially during hanami.
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Sakiko Fujishima 藤島咲子

hatsufuyu no tetsugaku no michi ichi shijin

beginning of winter
on Philosopher’s Road
one poet

source : Tr. Fay Aoyagi
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Chen-ou Liu
Ajax, Ontario, Canada


Philosopher’s Walk
a squirrel in the path
looking to and fro

source :


Place name in Sakyo 京都市右京区

. Omuro 御室 .


Modern Kyoto in Winter
Tokuriki Tomikichiro (1902-2000)


Kobayashi Issa

hatsu yume no fuji no yama uru miyako kana

year’s first dream–
Mount Fuji is sold
in Kyoto

Tr. David Lanoue


Matsuo Basho, 44 years old (笈の小文)
written at Narumi 鳴海

京までは まだ半空や 雪の雲
Kyoo made wa mada nakazora ya yuki no kumo

until Kyoto
it is just half-way –
clouds with snow

. . . . .

source :

Matsuo Basho
stayed at Genjuu-An 幻住庵 Genju-An in Shiga in the year Genroku 3 (1690), but had been to a visit in Kyoto.

京にても 京なつかしや 時鳥
Kyoo ni te mo Kyoo natsukashi ya hototogisu

even when in Kyoto
I long for Kyoto –

Tr. Gabi Greve

This haiku has the cut marker YA at the end of line two and the name of the bird, hototogisu, as the last line.
Alternative translations:

Even in Kyoto —
hearing the cuckoo’s cry —
I long for Kyoto.

Tr. Robert Hass

Bird of time –
in Kyoto, pining
for Kyoto.

Tr. Lucien Stryk

. Little Cuckoo, Cuculus poliocephalis,
hototogisu ホトトギス, 時鳥 .


. shio ni shi te mo iza kotozuten Miyako-dori .

miyakodori 都鳥 hooded gull
Larus ridibundus. lit. “bird of the capital”
kigo for all winter


. tenbin ya Kyō Edo kakete chiyo no haru .
balancing Kyoto and Edo on a giant scale

MORE – Visiting Kyoto
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 – Archives of the WKD .

Paintings about Basho from the Kyoto Museum Collection
source :


Kobayashi Issa, 1816

norakura ya hana no miyako mo aki no kaze

loafing around –
even in the capital of blossoms
now autumn wind

Maybe Issa stayed in Edo ?
Issa stayed in Edo not in Kyoto. So I think 花の都 is not necessary to be Kyoto.
Nakamura Sakuo Haiga

. . . . .

yuku aki ya sude ni o-shaka wa kyoo no sora

autumn ends–
already the Buddha
fills Kyoto’s sky


autumn ends–
already the statue of Buddha Shakamuni
is under the sky of Kyoto

Tr. Gabi Greve

In a prescript to this haiku, Issa alludes to an image of Gautama Buddha being returned to its temple in Kyoto.
Seiryooji 清涼寺 Temple Seiryo-Ji, Shakado 釈迦堂 in Saga, Kyoto, is quite famous for the statue of Gautama Shakyamuni which is about 160 cm high and rather simple in a robe of Indian style of Gandhara Buddhas. It was made in China and had the intestines made of silk inside.

The statue had been shown at the temple Eko-In 回向院 (Ekooin) in Edo in 1810.

More about the temle Seiryoji and haiku . Saga 嵯峨 Spring Festivals .


Yosa Buson

hototogisu Heianjoo o sujikai ni

this cockoo –
it criss-crosses over

ohitaki ya shimo utsukushiki kyoo no machi

bonfire ceremony –
the frost is so beautiful
in the town of Kyoto

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

. Bonfire ceremony (ohotaki 御火焚)


Kobayashi Issa

miyakobe ya fuyugomori sae isogashiki

Kyoto people
stay busy outside
all winter long

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku was written in the 11th month (December) of 1816, when Issa had left his hometown for a while and traveled back to Edo to see poets there. The difference between his hometown and Edo must have been extreme in winter. In Edo people went outside and kept busy during the whole winter, unlike the home confinement people experienced during much of the winter in the snow country, in which Issa’s hometown was located. In this hokku, however, Issa evokes not Edo, the location of the shogun’s castle and actual center of power in Japan, but the ancient capital of Kyoto, nominally the capital though the “reigning” emperor or empress was merely a figurehead. Perhaps Issa focuses on Kyoto because even more important annual events were scheduled there than in busy Edo.

In addition to being the site of a diligent court that continuously carried out empty rituals, Kyoto had hundreds of Buddhist temples, many of them the head temple of their school, and perhaps even more Shinto shrines. Numerous important ceremonies, festivals, performances, and events took place there every single day throughout the winter, and Kyoto’s thriving economy also continued to operate at a rapid pace. To speak of “winter confinement” in Kyoto is a contradiction in terms, and the phrase was used there and in the other larger cities of Issa’s time mainly as an elegant euphemism for staying indoors a bit more in winter.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


plant kigo for early summer

miyakogusa 都草 (みやこぐさ) “capital plant”
It used to grow wild around the capital of Kyoto in the old days.
Now it is found everywhere in Japan. Its yellow flowers look like enchanted butterflies.

Lotus corniculatus is a common flowering plant native to grassland temperate Eurasia and North Africa. The common name is Bird’s-foot Trefoil (or similar, such as “birdsfoot trefoil”), though the common name is often also applied to other members of the genus. It is also known in cultivation in North America as Birdfoot Deervetch.
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