Kobayashi Issa

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, was a Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jōdo Shinshū sect known for his haiku poems and journals. He is better known as simply , a pen name meaning Cup-of-tea (lit. "one tea"). He is regarded as one of the four haiku masters in Japan, along with Bashō, Buson and Shiki - 'the Great Four, Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki'.R. H. Blyth, A History of Haiku Vol I (Tokyo 1980) p. 289

Reflecting the popularity and interest in Issa as man and poet, Japanese books on Issa outnumber those on Buson, and almost equal in number those on Bashō.


Issa was born and registered as Kobayashi Nobuyuki (小林 信之), with a childhood name of Kobayashi Yatarō (小林 弥太郎), the first son of a farmer family of Kashiwabara, now part of Shinano-machi, Shinano Province (present-day Nagano Prefecture). Issa endured the loss of his mother, who died when he was three.Shirane, Haruo. Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900. Columbia University Press, 2008. ISBN 9780231144155. p507 Her passing was the first of numerous difficulties young Issa suffered. He was cared for by his grandmother, who doted on him, but his life changed again when his father remarried five years later. Issa's half-brother was born two years later, and when his grandmother died when he was...
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