Kobayashi Issa Poems

Kobayashi Issa Poems
We are creating these pages to serves as a list of poems by Kobayashi Issa as we carry out more research, as well as the numerous translations these poems have in English.

We will group them into the literature they comes from.

Should we not known where they come from yet, you will find them under the sub-heading ‘Unsure Location.’

Date of poems, if known, are included in the notes column.




Unsure Location

Japanese text
Romanized Japanese
English translation
Akikaze yo
kyorohyoro yama no
Autumn wind
The mountains shadow
Tō bakari
miete tōji wa
natsu kodachi
Only the Pagoda
can be seen, with Tō Temple
in its summer grove.2
yudejiru no
keburu kakine ya
mizore furu
Steam from the broth
rises above a wattle fence,
with sleet coming down.2
shōnin ni
sakura kana

ume ni kuchi aku
nebutsu kana
The holy man
has turned away from the sight
of cherry trees.2

Even sparrows mouths
are agape in the plum trees -
hailing Amida!
These two poems go together as part of a story surrounding the Monk Tokuon.
kyō mo mukashi ni
Blossoms at dusk
making the day that just passed
seem long ago.2
awa no chō
ko ga haeba tobi
haeba tobu
Garden butterfly
baby crawl up, it flies off
crawls up, it flies off.2
heta nusubito o
Along they go
chasing a bumbling thief
out of town.2
A poem prefaced with a story which alluded to a tale from Essays in Idleness.
modokashi wa
kari wa jiyu ni
tomo o yobu
What frustration
even the wild geese call freely
to one another!2
A poem prefaced with a story about becoming suddenly mute.
tsuki hana ya
yonjūkunen no
The moon, the blossoms
forty nine years I've wasted
walking beneath them.2
aki no yo ya
shōji no ana ga
fue o fuku
Autumn night
a hole in my paper door
whistling away.2
hana horishi
ato o obaete
kaze no fuku

hana suku to
sugu no horaruru
sakura kana
Over the place
where the blossom were dug up
blows the wind

Blossoms appeared
to be dug up on the spot
with the cherry tree.2
Two poems written after visiting Mikawa-bō with a man known as Zuisai. He sees a cherry tree sold for the Snake Festival.
semi naku ya
waga ya mo ishi ni
naru yō ni
Cicadas drone
as if to make my house
into a rock.2
An allusion to a poem by Bashō.
yuki tokete
mura ippai no
kodomo kana
Snow starts melting
and the village overflows
with children.2
inazuma no
abisekakeru ya
Lightning flashes
throwing light on those who cringe
at the thought of death.2
makeru na issa
kore ni ari
You, skinny frog
don"t go giving up yet
Issa's here.2
Refering to fighting male frogs in mating season.
yare utsu na
hae ga te o suri
ashi o suru
Hold on! Don't hit him!
that fly praying with his hands,
praying with his feet.2
tōyama ga
medama ni utsuru
tombō kana
Distant mountains
are reflected in the eye
of a dragonfly.2


1. Hoffman, Y. (1986) ”Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death”. Tuttle Publishing.
2. Carter, S.D. (1991) “Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology.” California, Stanford University Press.

Check out the Japan Archives, our Japanese History Podcast.
Instagram (Japan): @japan_archives

Check out our Minecraft Channel on Youtube.
Instagram (Minecraft): @mycenria

Find the website useful?
Please consider donating to help up keep the website running.

Supernatural Creatures