Haiku Moment: The Snail by Issa

Nishiyama Hoen (1804-67), Snail, 19th century, Album leaf painting, ink and colors on paper

Kobayashi Issa was born in Kashiwabara, Shinanao province. He eventually took the pen name Issa, which means “cup of tea”. Issa’s haiku are characterised by an attentive focus on small creatures of the world such as mosquitoes, bats, cats. They are also mostly tinged with sorrow and an awareness of the nuances of human behavior. In addition to haiku, he wrote pieces that intertwined prose and poetry, including Journal of My Father’s Last Days and The Year of My Life.

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