Matsuo Basho


araumi ya, sado ni yokotou, amanogawa.Beyond the Rough Sea / The Milky Way Lies / Over Sado Island.

Key Haiku Terms

季語 kigo seasonal words – Within the poem, at least one word or phrase should symbolize one of the four seasons. 

切れ字 kireji cutting words – These are small words that often function as a placeholder so the verse has the right number of moras.  They also function to give a certain emotional or sentimental flavor to the poem.


Beyond the Rough Sea / The Milky Way Lies / Over Sado Island.

荒海(あらうみ)ROMAJI: araumi ENGLISH: rough seaaraumi is made of arai – rough and umi – sea or ocean.

荒海(あらうみ)やROMAJI: araumi ya ENGLISH: rough seaya is a kireji (cutting word) that sets the haiku rhythm and also makes it sound more dramatic somewhat.

荒海(あらうみ)や、佐渡(さど)ROMAJI: araumi ya, sado ENGLISH: rough sea / Sado IslandSado is an island in the Sea of Japan off the coast of Niigata prefecture.

荒海(あらうみ)や、佐渡(さど)にROMAJI: araumi ya, sado ni ENGLISH: rough sea / Sado Island ni indicates a direction or destination of the action or a place where an action is taking place.

荒海(あらうみ)や、佐渡(さど)に横(よこ)とうROMAJI: araumi ya, sado ni yokotou ENGLISH: rough sea / lying over Sado Island yokotou – “lie (down)” It is usually said as yokotau but yokotou sounds old fashioned and very poetic.

荒海(あらうみ)や、佐渡(さど)に横(よこ)とう、天(あま)の川(がわ)。ROMAJI: araumi ya, sado ni yokotou, amanogawa. ENGLISH: Beyond the rough sea / The milky way lies / Over Sado Island. amanogawa is literally “river of Heaven”

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is undoubtedly the most famous of the classical haiku poets. His mastery of haiku and his wanderings around Japan are attested by the many monuments with his poems.  His most famous collection of poems and writings is called, “Oku no Hosomichi.”  It was written while on a long journey in Edo Japan in the spring of 1689.  Today many people trace his footsteps for themselves. 

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