A Drop

From Buson’s Collected Haiku #676:

初しぐれ眉に烏帽子の雫哉

first rain of the season

down the headgear onto the eyebrow 

a drop


烏帽子, or eboshi, literally “raven’s cap,” now worn almost exclusively by Shinto priests during ritual ceremonies, it was originally donned by young men at their coming of age ceremonies.

640px-Kannushi_and_miko_at_the_Meiji_Shrine,_Tokyo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It evolved into a heavily lacquered headdress sometime in the late Heian period.

Eboshi_kabuto_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this haiku, Buson is poking fun at the seriousness of the Shinto priest who is most likely performing his rituals at a small outdoor shrine. It starts to rain — the first cold rain of the season. A drop hangs from the lip of his headdress before falling onto his eyebrow. His dignity and reserve won’t allow him to do anything but “ganbaru” — to hang on; to persevere — until the ritual is over.

To see more of Buson’s haiku please follow him on Instagram @turnipdiary.


 

Kannushi and miko at the Meiji Shrine, Tokyo” by mrhayataShinto Priest. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

By Samuraiantiqueworld (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s a Bagworm? and What Did a Raincoat Look Like in Japan in 1760?

So there’s this haiku by Buson:

みのむしの得たりかしこし初時雨

like a bagworm   I’m all right   first winter rain


Another pretty good poet, Bashō, had written this:

初しぐれ狼も小蓑をほしげ也

first winter rain   the monkey too  wants a little raincoat


And Kikaku, Bashō’s disciple, wrote this:

蓑を着て鷺こそ進め夕しぐれ

donning a raincoat     this heron advances      evening winter rain


What all three of these haiku have in common is the central image of the traveler out of doors in late autumn or early winter, with the first, cold rain of the season starting to fall. Raincoats at the time were not much — bunches of straw woven together to hold off the rain.

簑(みの)

But the image, in all three cases, equates the man in the straw raincoat with the animal.

Basho — macaque:

saru

Kikaku — heron:

heron

Buson — bagworm:

IMG_0008


I’ll be sharing more of Buson’s haiku on Instagram: @turnipdiary. See you there!

photo credit: Jigokudani Yaen-Koen 2008-01-12 138 via photopin (license)

photo credit: Heron 2 via photopin (license)

photo credit: Man in traditional straw raincoat, Japan via photopin (license)