Kiko Literature, The Difference Between Oku no Hosomichi and Tosa Nikki

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Nikki bungaku is a traditional Japanese literary genre in the form of diaries. These diaries were traditionally written in Chinese characters due to the fact that they were originally modeled after the diaries of Chinese government officials; it is also important to note that diaries were written by men, until Ki no Tsurayuki in his Tosa Nikki, which was written in 935 and the first diary of literary value, took on the persona of a woman to escape the limitations his position entailed. Through using the point of view of a woman, Ki no Tsurayuki was able to write the diary using kana rather than the kanji that he would have had to use otherwise. As time progressed, moving into the Medieval period, the way of writing changed as well. Kiko, a form of travel diary, of which Tosa Nikki is an example, became much more frequent. An example of a kiko written during the Medieval period is Matsuo Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi in 1694, Which chronicles his 156 day journey into the northern regions of Honshu. Both the Tosa Nikki and Oku no Hosomichi are very important examples of kiko literature. However, partly due to the long period of time between the two, there are many differences between them. Oku no Hosomichi describes things that are dirty and inelegant, which can not be found in Tosa Nikki; the reasons for the author to write the kiko are very different, and the paths the authors travel are incredibly different; both Tosa Nikki and Oku no Hosomichi use poetry differently, and Oku no Hosomichi uses sketches as well which can not be seen in Tosa Nikki.

Throughout Matsuo Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi he describes many things that would have been considered inelegant, dirty, and even humorous. Writing about these types of topics was alm...

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...Tosa Nikki has a more formal feeling to it since it was supposed to be from the perspective of a lady in the Tosa Governor’s party on their return to Kyoto. Both these works of literature are very important in what they represent. While they are both Kiko, they are written in very different ways, which shows the difference in values and opinions between literature written during the Heian period, and literature written during the Medieval period.

Works Cited

Basho, Matsuo. Oku no Hosomichi. Web.

Keene Donald. “The Tosa Diary.” Anthology of Japanese Literature. Ed. Donald Keene.

New York, NY: Grove Press, 1955. 82-91. Print.

Miller, Marilyn J. “Nikki Bungaku-Literary Diaries: Their Tradition and Their Influence

on Modern Japanese Fiction.” World Literature Today (1987): Web. 18 Mar. 2011. http://www.jstor.org/pss/40142997

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