Letter from Kikaku to Juson Takarai Kikaku Genroku 12 (1699)
Letter from Kikaku to Juson
Genroku 12 (1699)
Kikaku (1661-1707) was originally known as Enomoto Kikaku, but later changed his name to Takarai Kikaku. He became a pupil of Basho’s around the age of 14 or 15 in Edo, going on to become one of Basho’s leading disciples and contributing to the advancement of the Basho school of haiku. When Basho passed away, Kikaku, who happened to be in Osaka at the time, was able to be present at his master’s deathbed.
Kikaku is known for the sophisticated “share” style of haiku composition that was popular in the larger cities. However, he also left behind many difficult and complex poems that are not easily interpreted.
Little is known about Juson, to whom this letter is addressed, but the renku linked verse he composed with Kikaku implies that he was a disciple or haiku associate of Kikaku’s.
The “Shichiza” referred to in the letter is Nakamura Shichisaburo I, a popular Kabuki actor of the day and a friend of Kikaku’s who returns to Edo in 1699 after spending some time performing Kabuki in the Kyoto-Osaka region. “Sawanojo” is a reference to another Kabuki actor, Ogino Sawanojo, who retires from Kabuki once but proceeds to return to the stage in 1699. The fact that these circumstances are mentioned in this letter, which was dated “28th day of the 10th lunar month,” seems to indicate that this manuscript was written in the year 1699. The letter also shows Kikaku, who had many interesting friends, to be an urbanite who kept himself well-informed about the popular entertainment of the day.