Turning up the heat
The youngest man to have become a disciple of Bashō was surely Izumiya no Kumenosuke. At the age of 14, Bashō conferred upon him the haiku name, Tōyō. The poet had been soothing his aches and pains at the Izumiya Inn in the little hot-spring town of Yamanaka towards the end of his Narrow Road journey of 1689 and had found young Kumenosuke to be the new keeper. Kumenosuke had convened a haikai session there in Bashō’s honour.
Although we are currently in the heat of August, and the last thing I would think of is a hot spring, my wife happened to book us in to stay in Yamanaka last Sunday night. The following morning, at the Bashō no Yakata (Bashō Mansion, which stands by the site of the Inn), its windows open wide …
The transpicuous house–
… a squally wind ruffling
…… a summer garden
… for the grand sum of ￥350, I bought a very slender volume, entitled 山中蕉門：桃妖俳句集 (Haiku by the Yamanaka Bashō-school Poet, Tōyō).
Every night since then, back in stifling Kyoto, before turning my head against the pillow and closing my eyes, I have enjoyed reading a few haiku by this most poetical of inn-keepers, around whom a lively haiku circle had grown in the mid Edo period. I doff my hat to whomever it was that researched and made this tiny white booklet of lightness and air. No one at all is credited.
Exhaling tobacco smoke
… through his nose–