Bashō’s Ethnography of Communication in ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’
Miyo Snyder Niijima
Bashō’s last masterpiece of ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’ is written as the outcome of his long journey to the North-East remote areas in the deep northern areas in Japan. Spending six months walking, the purpose of the journey was to find the Way to discover a better scope for the Genroku haiku schools, which were wanting poetic truth, that is, inherent elegance from the ancient waka poetry.
Haiku poetry, derived as the shortened form waka, has become too farce-oriented, losing its thematic richness and the aesthetic beauty woven into wake traditions. The time and the place of socio-economic status was changing at the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). The samurai and aristocratic dominant society shifted to the common people, such as rich farmers, industrial factory owners, and businessmen. Naturally, the genre of poetic literature was responding to the socio-economic change of the time. Bashō’s poetic soul yearned for the poetic elegance of beauty seen in classics. The elements of wabi. sabi, and mono no aware were pushed away.
Bashō’s journey to the deep north is his Way of looking into and directly investigating what may happen in his own poetic soul; he follows the footsteps of his beloved mentor poets who had lived and died on their journeys. He visited Utamakura, which were places where those great ancient poets walked and composed their poems. This is Bashō’s Ethnographic basis and his Ethnographic scope has three spheres: life with nature, men, and spiritual beings.
The other study, ‘Time and Space in Basdō, Buson, and Issa’, discusses their haikus to explain Bashō’s influence on Buson and Issa, who came to create their own styles later in their forties.
ISBN 9783969391594. LINCOM Cultural Studies 23. 76pp. 2023.