Amongst a collection of haikus held by the Tenri Central Library here are 212 previously unknown haikus by the Edo period poet Yosa Buson (1716-1783), announced the library on Oct. 14.
The new discoveries join some 2,900 haikus by Buson that were known. The library says the new collection is called the "Yahantei Buson" haiku collection, and is thought to have previously been kept in the home of the Kyoto disciple of Buson, Teramura Hyakuchi. The collection was described in a 1934 edition of the magazine "Haiku Kenkyu," after which the collection went missing until it was acquired by the library around four years ago from a bookstore.
The collection, divided by season, is organized into two books, one for spring and summer, and one for fall and winter. The collection is thought to have been put together between around 1770 and 1790. After a careful examination of the contents, the new Buson haikus were discovered among the 1,903 haikus contained in the collection. There were 57 new spring haikus by Buson, 35 for summer, 59 for fall and 61 for winter. They also had corrections and writings in black and red thought to have been added by Buson.
One haiku, with "Bakemonodai" (monster topic) written before it, reads, "The umbrella changes form, a moon-lit night with eyes," and may have been created at a haiku gathering themed on monsters. Another haiku reads, "I am surprised by a burned field, flowering grass."
Shinichi Fujita, professor of modern literature at Kansai University and a scholar of Buson, says, "Buson's haikus have been thoroughly studied, and it is amazing that a new collection of his works would appear. If the new works are compared against the many remaining letters of Buson, we may be able to learn when and against what background the haikus were made."
The library will put the haikus on display from Oct. 19 through Nov. 8, as part of an exhibition commemorating the 85th anniversary of the library's founding. The display will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will be free. Inquiries can be made at 0743-63-9200.