Tosa Nikki and Oku no hosomichi

Powerful Essays
Ki no Tusrayuki’s Tosa Nikki and Matsuo Bashō’s Oku no Hosomichi are both detailed traveling diaries. The writers used a combination of poetry and prose to create their literary work and used their own experiences as the groundwork for their material. However, Oku no Hosomichi has different conventions that reflect the current age, and is more modernized than Tosa Nikki. Bashō enjoys the earlier works of famous poets, such as Saigyō, but some the poems he makes would seem inelegant to readers from the Heian period. Bashō’s negative accounts of his travels would not have been included in early Heian literature. Also, the journey Tsurayuki undertakes is different from Bashō’s. Bashō’s own experiences and knowledge as a traveling monk gives him a closer connection to the commoners, while Tsurayuki’s journal is more for fellow nobles and aristocrats.

Oku no Hosomichi includes poetry that would not be considered as a high literary art form in the Heian period. Most of the imagery he used would not be commonly found in waka poetry. Bashō’s poems included imagery that was not conventional in waka poetry, such as sleeping in an unpleasant house: Bitten by fleas and lice/I slept in a bed/A horse urinating all the time/Close to my pillow (Bashō 120).” This poem serves as an example of how blunt some of Bashō’s poems were. There is no allusion to how terrible the image may have been: he had literally described an unpleasant experience. Heian writers probably did not experience such difficulties because they were members of the court. As aristocrats, they were not subjected to the kinds of tribulations common travelers faced. He also created a poem about sandals he received from a painter: “It looks as if/Iris flowers had bloome...

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...“various contributors.” However, Bashō had a different approach: he used haiku to restate what he had previously said in prose while offering a clearer description of the scene. He had longed to travel and decided to venture north. His journey seemed much more difficult than Tsurayuki’s, and his journey led him to many famous places depicted in earlier Japanese literature. Bashō did not fail to include both the joys and hardships of his traveling. Oku no Hosomichi may have had a stronger connection with common Japanese people in the Edo period, but Tosa Nikki was a major contribution to literature before the medieval era.

Works Cited

Bashō, Matsuo. “Oku no Hosomichi.” Web. 17 April 2011

Keene, Donald. “Anthology of Japanese Literature”. New York: Grove Press, 1955.

Watson, Burton. “The Tales of Heike”. New York: Columbia University Press. 2006.
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