The Moon on a Rainy Night: Haikai Poet Tagami Kikusha (1753-1826) and the Travel Journal Taorigiku (Handpicked chrysanthemums, 1812)

              Tagami Kikusha (1753-1826) an early modern literata, spent thirty-three years of her life as a traveler. Widowed at the age of twenty-four, she devoted the remainder of her life to the arts, with haikai at the center. Her journeys took her over the length and breadth of Japan, from the "far North" as described in Bashô's Oku no hosomichi (Narrow road to the interior) to Fukuoka and Nagasaki, centers of  early modern Japanese Sinophilic culture. On her journeys, she met and workedwith some of the most prominent haikai poets, tea practitioners, artists, and musicians of her day. She wrote kanshi as well as haikai, practiced painting, tea ceremony, and koto.

              As important as literary precedent was for Kikusha, her early journeys were also driven by her interest in visiting sites connected with Jôdo Shinshû founder Shinran Shônin (1173-1263).  She began her life as a traveler by taking the tonsure as a Jôdo Shinshû nun, and many of the verses in her most well-known collection, Taorigiku (Hand-picked chrysanthemums, published 1812) allude to her devotion to her Jôdo Shinshû faith. I will discuss key examples of this series, examine the ways that the journeys she undertook during her lifetime correspond to conventionalized Shinran-related pilgrimage sites, and explore the relationship of Jôdo Shinshû Buddhism on Kikusha's diverse work.



  • East Asian Studies