The Poetry of Tosa Nikki and Oku No Hosomichi Essay

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The origins of kiko, or travel literature, in Japan spans to well over 1000 years ago. One of the earliest examples of kiko is Ki no Tsurayuki’s Tosa nikki, a diary which Tsurayuki wrote most likely in 935 during the Heian period of Japan. Another important example of kiko, which is similar in ways yet also very dissimilar to Ki no Tsurayuki’s Tosa nikki, due in part to the many years that the two are separated by in terms of when they were composed, is Matsuo Basho’s Oku no hosomichi, or Narrow Road to the Interior/Narrow Road to the Deep North, which was written in the late 17th century during the Edo period of Japan. Ki no Tsurayuki’s Tosa nikki describes Tsurayuki’s return to his home in the capital after having completed his…show more content…
So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across a sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives traveling. There are a great number of ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind---filled with a strong desire to wander.

While Ki no Tsurayuki was returning to the capital due to his urge to go home and perhaps even more so because of his position as a court official, Matsuo Basho was journeying from his own personal desire to do so, as a Zen monk as well as from his desires as a poet to see the wild north of Japan and the places that many famous poets from before him had been to. This mood of Basho in Oku no hosomichi works against the sort of traditional poetic essence of travel as seen in the Tosa nikki: to have a longing for the capital. In Oku no hosomichi, the road becomes home establishing a new view on traveling: that one has no center and no return. Basho literally makes the road his home, for he sells his house in Edo before going on his long journey, and gives up most of his earthly possessions. During the Tosa nikki, the mood of Tsurayuki is often melancholy whereas in Oku no hosomichi there is some suffering, but

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