Japan poetry and Uejima Onitsura (1661-1738): Useless dreams, alas

Japan poetry and Uejima Onitsura (1661-1738): Useless dreams, alas

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese poet, Uejima Onitsura (1661-1738), hails from the prefecture of Hyogo. However, it was Osaka where this esteemed haiku poet became famous.

In a lovely poem, he wrote:

Useless dreams, alas! 
Over desolate fields 
winds whisper as they pass.

From 8 years of age, Uejima impressed many with his poetry. Thus, with the flow of haiku – and other poetry forms awaiting him – Uejima’s path was clear. Therefore, after gaining further knowledge of many aspects of Japanese high culture, Uejima started his career in haiku when in his mid-20s in the hope of making his living.

In another poem – acknowledging the changing summer to autumn season – he writes:

Cool, cool evening White moon. Autumn wind blowing.

Uejima belongs to the Danrin School of Poetry. 

The Danrin School sought to free itself from the rigidness of other schools – and to make poetry come alive to ordinary people during the early Edo Period. The founder was Nishiyama Sōin (1605-1682).

Hence, like the art movement of Ukiyo-e, this school of poetry also focused on the floating world. Therefore, Uejima had the luxury of belonging to a less rigid form of poetry. 


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