D’s Poetry : Haiku 22 : Mukai Kyorai

D’s Poetry is a living archive of all poetry penned by me, Divvya Nirula. Join me on this journey today as we discover the work of Mukai Kyorai.

“Purple skies cold night,
The trees are tempted to walk,
The machines start to hack.”

Divvya Nirula

Mukai Kyorai : Life & Work

Mukai Kyorai was born Mukai Kanetoki in 1651, in Nagasaki, Japan. He is remembered today as a famous Haikuist. But that was not his first passion.

From a young age, Kyorai was initiated into training as a samurai. He was therefore highly skilled in the martial arts. Also, he had the discipline and intellect of a warrior, that held him in good stead for the rest of his life. Despite spending years as a samurai, in his early twenties, Kyorai decided to pursue poetry instead.

Around 1684, Kyorai met and befriended Takarai Kikaku. Kikaku was a poet and student of the great Matsuo Bashō. And so, following the same path, Kyorai sought a teacher as well. Kikaku and Kyorai were some of the first few disciples of Bashō. They both learnt Haiku from him.

Mukai Kyorai eventually came to be recognised a prominent poet of the Tokugawa period in Japan. He set up a retreat centre outside of Kyoto for poets. This space was even used by Bashō himself when he was writing Saga nikki (1691; Saga Diary). Further, Kyorai also wrote and taught Haiku. And spent his time interpreting Bashō’s works after he died.
Kyorai’s works include  Kyorai shō (1775; Conversations with Kyorai) and Tabine ron (1778; Discourses of a Weary Traveler).

Returning from a funeral
I saw this very moon
high above the moor

Mukai Kyorai

You are invited along on this journey of discovery and writing. For more poetry and verse by Divvya Nirula, please visit the archive for D’s Poetry.