Tsurayuki´s Tosa Nikki and Matsuo Basho´s Oku no Hosomichi

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“Appropriateness” and “standards” has always been a subjective topic through history. What in one era may be considered a fatal flaw may be considered the norm a few centuries later; sewing a scarlet “A” on the chest of every unmarried woman with child in America would have political and human rights groups up in arms. With literature, one only needs to look at the list of “Banned Books Throughout History” to see how attitudes shift over the years towards literature. Because of this often gradual shift, a pieces of literature that fall under the same genre may be drastically different from each other, such as Matsuo Bashō’s Oku no Hosomichi and Ki no Tsurayuki’s Tosa Nikki. While both fall under the “kiko” category of writing, the different times they were written in leads to a distinct style and theme separate from one another.

The way the respective journeys start are vastly different, not just due to the different time periods and purpose of both journeys, but the way the authors record them. In Oku no Hosomichi, Bashō notes that he is overcome by a seemingly god-given wanderlust, “the gods seemed to have possessed my soul and turned it inside out…so that it was impossible for me to stay idle at home (Bashō, n.d.).” He eagerly describes his preparations for the trip, from fixing his trousers to applying a strengthening salve on his legs. He comments on the things he packed and even notes the first steps he takes away from home. In Tosa Nikki however, the preparations are totally glossed over and instead the beginning of the kiko focuses on the parties and drunken festivities. It is hard to imagine that in light of a party as large as an ex-governor’s there would be so little preparation—even the elegant courtiers who...

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...bi of pines on mountains, or dwellings on Buddhist impermanence during a time of mappō. Tosa Nikki, the first great literary diary would become the basis upon which almost all future diaries were created. Oku no Hosomichi also used it as a base, but from there Bashō carefully crafted the work and made it his own.

Works Cited

1. Satō, H. Bashō's Narrow road: spring & autumn passages: two works. 1996 received from: http://books.google.com/books?id=Imn4gm7KomgC&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&dq=tosa+nikki+poetry&source=bl&ots=m8pmdbP4d8&sig=wm2PGV5a6s47grIHTYYeoabYAFE&hl=en&ei=Eg6qTcD7NpH6sAOLs5H5DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CEMQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=tosa%20nikki%20poetry&f=false

2. Handout 8

3. http://www.vbtemple.org/glossary/nembutsu.htm

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edo_period

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsuo_Bash%C5%8D

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