Friday, June 24, 2005

The Walk According to Santoka

I fell deeply in love with the haiku of Santoka Taneda (1882-1940). Thanks to those who rescued him from his suicide attempt and brought him to a Zen temple. As described by Dissident Editions, Santoka “devoted his life to moneyless pilgrimage (walking Zen)... Apart from a towel and the clothes he stood up in, virtually all he possessed was just one bowl: the traditional begging-bowl in which he received alms of food or perhaps money, and from which he ate and drank. Such a bowl would have been the most intimate friend and companion... he had a continuing , deep relationship with sake, the rice wine of Japan.”

The following haiku is considered to be his best:

into the begging bowl also-

I am most touched by the following haiku:

begging: I accept
the burning sun

Santoka describes his “walking” in the following haiku:

unpleasant days:
days I don’t walk, days without booze,
haikuless days

no path but this one-
I walk alone

I walk through the withered glass

walking on and on-
my only course

walking and begging,
water sound

(source: Dissident Editions; I-ku Haiku)

Santoka defines haiku as follows:

Real haiku is the soul of poetry. Anything that is not actually present in one's heart is not haiku. The moon glows, flowers bloom, insects cry, water flows. There is no place we cannot find flowers or think of the moon. This is the essence of haiku. Go beyond the restrictions of your era, forget about purpose or meaning, separate yourself from historical limitations -- there you'll find the essence of true art, religion, and science.

tr. John Stevens (from

More haiku by Santoka can be found in The Haiga Pages


Blogger . Gabi Greve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:37 PM  
Blogger . Gabi Greve said...

Santoka with his begging bowl

Ryookan with his begging bowl

Ryokan and Daruma

Greetings from Gabi in Japan

2:39 PM  

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