The Fukuda Museum in Arashiyama, Kyoto has just announced that it has acquired a scroll painted by Basho himself of his 野ざらし紀行 Nozarashi Kikō journey centred on Kansai in 1684-5. They will exhibit the 14-metre scroll for the first time 10/22-1/9, and Hailstone will no doubt plan an event to go and see the work. My fellow editor, Nobuyuki Yuasa, translated the piece for Penguin Classic as ‘The Records of a Weather-exposed Skeleton’. It was the first of Basho’s great haibun journeys, but the only one he illustrated completely himself. The scroll was known to exist, but its whereabouts had not been confirmed for half a century or more. The Museum had been contacted by an Osaka dealer who had suspected that the scroll could be the missing one.
The close-up shots of the scroll (each can be enlarged by clicking), clockwise from top centre show, respectively, Hakone, Yoshino, Kuwana, Tōdaiji’s Nigatsudō (in Nara), and Narutaki (in Kyoto). To give a flavour of the written account itself, here are some of Basho’s haiku inscribed adjacent to each of these illustrations:
(HAKONE: Kirishigure / fuji o minu hi zo / omoshiroki) . Misty rain / hides the view of Mt. Fuji… / yet still I’m spellbound!
(YOSHINO: Kinuta uchite / ware ni kikase yo / bō ga tsuma) . Beat your fulling-block / so I may enjoy its sound, please / wife of the temple priest
(KUWANA: Akebono ya / shirauo shiroki / koto issun) . Before sunrise… / young icefish flashing white / just one inch long
(NARA: Mizutori ya / kōri no sō no / kutsu no oto) . Water-drawing Ceremony – / cold sound of monks’ clogs / pounding the wooden floor
(NARUTAKI: Ume shiroshi / kinō wa tsuru o / nusumareshi) . Plums in white blossom, / but the crane’s absence might tell of / its kidnap yesterday!
It is also worth noting that a newly found scroll by Buson of Basho’s 奥の細道 Oku no Hosomichi travel sketch will be shown for the very first time at the Kyoto National Museum from June 14 to July 18 this year. Of the existing Buson scrolls on this subject, this is apparently the oldest.