Travel, Traveler's Sky


Travel, Traveler's Sky (tabi, tabi no sora)

***** Location: Worldwide
***** Season: Various, see below.
***** Category: Humanity


Travel, travelling, who would not like this!

skies of travel, skies on a journey, tabi no sora 旅の空
sometimes translated as: Away From Home

or even
"Tabi no Sora e (Journey in the Air)",
"Trip in the Sky"

In some Japanese poems, the traveller is on his last journey to the Paradise in the West, where Amida Buddha welcomes the departed soul.

. Poetic Traveling .
Matsuo Basho and other poets on the road

. Utamakura 歌枕 place names used in Poetry .
"makura kotoba" 枕詞, 枕言葉, "pillow words"


kigo for the New Year

hatsu tabi 初旅 (はつたび) first travel, first trip
..... tabi hajime 旅始(たびはじめ)
ryokoo hajime 旅行始(りょこうはじめ)

hatsu umaya 初駅 (はつうまや) "first station"
In former times, umaya referd to a barn or stable for horses at a stage station.

hatsunori, hatsu nori 初乗(はつのり)first ride
..... norizome 乗初 (のりぞめ)

hatsu densha 初電車(はつでんしゃ)first taking of the train
hatsu jidoosha 初自動車(はつじどうしゃ)first ride in the car
..... hatsuguruma 初車(はつぐるま)

hatsu hikoo 初飛行(はつひこう)first flight
hatsu watashi 初渡舟(はつわたし)first crossing of a river
sorinorizome 橇乗初(そりのりぞめ)first sledge ride

hatsu kadode 初門出 (はつかどで) first going out
hatsuasa kadode 初朝戸出(はつあさとで)
first leaving the house on January 1
hatsutode, hatsu tode 初戸出(はつとで)first going out of the door



hatsu jidoosha 初自動車 first ride in the car
..... hatsuguruma 初車

. hatsuniguruma 初荷車 first car with luggage .

. Vehicles used in Winter .

. danjiri 山車 festival floats, festival cars .

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Autograph writing of Hiroshige's death-song:

Azumaji ni fude o nokoshite tabi no sora
Nishi no Mikuni no Nadokoro o min

Dropping my brush at Azuma (Eastern capital)
I go a journey to the honorable country in the west
(Buddhist Paradise is supposed to be in the West)
to view the wonderful sights there.


(Azuma is the old name for the Edo area.)

The Eastern City
I leave. And - without a brush
To see new scenes
I take the long road
That leads to the distant West.

Tr. by Temmei Rojin
Read more about Hiroshige !


hitori ni mo aranu omoi wa naki hito mo
tabi no sora ni ya kanashikaruran

Not alone
Are we in our thoughts:
She who's gone, too,
On her journey to the skies,
Must be sunk in sorrow.

Fujiwara no Tameyori 藤原為頼 (?-?998)


ryoken 旅券 passport

ryoken no ware sukoshi wakashi kotori kuru

in the passport
myself a bit younger -
small birds coming

Ogawa Keishuu 小川軽舟 Ogawa Keishu
(1961 - )

. small birds coming, kotori kuru 小鳥来る .
kigo for autumn


kakitsubata kataru mo tabi no hitotsu kana

kakitsubata iris -
to talk about it is one of the joys
when travelling

Matsuo Basho (1688)
. Oi no Kobumi 笈の小文 .
Basho is visiting with the paper merchant
Yasukawa Yaemon 紙屋保川弥右衛門 in Osaka

one of the joys
of travel, rare
talk about an iris

source : tr. anonymous

Iris laevigata. 燕子花
It is a kigo for mid-summer. The literal meaning of the Chinese characters 燕子花 is "Child of the Swallow", because the form of the flower looks like a baby swallow starting its first flight.


tabine shite mishi ya ukiyo no susu harai (susuharai)

Seen on a journey -
The year-end house-cleaning
Of this transitory world.

Tr. Blyth

resting on my journey,
I watch the year-end housecleaning
of the floating world

Tr. Barnhill

stopping at an inn
I see the floating world

Tr. Addiss

Basho age 44.
This is a greeting hokku to his host, 一井, Owari no Ichi-I 尾張の一井
Ichi-I from Nagoya.
Basho is enjoying the last moon of the year on a cold night, looking over the garden of his host.
In the back of the home, everyone is busy with the final cleaning.
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Oi no Kobumi .

. cleaning off soot, susuharai 煤払 .
kigo for mid-winter

More haiku about TABI travelling and
TABINE sleeping on the road and the traveller's sky
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


tabi no sora shiwasu mo nijuu ku nichi kana

a traveler's sky--
Twelfth Month
29th day

Issa, 1803

Tr. David Lanoue
Read a Comment here.

... ... ...

Isn't New Year's Eve, and New Year's day, even in old Japan, a time for celebrating with family and friends? Basho being on the road and Issa desiring to be on the road at that time of year could then be considered to be out-of-the-ordinary behavior.

In tribute to a haiku by Matsuo Basho:

toshi kurenu kasa kite waraji hakinagara

The year draws to its close:
I am still wearing
My kasa and straw sandals.

Tr. Blyth

Another year is gone -
A travel hat on my head,
Straw sandals on my feet.

Tr. Stephen Kohl

As the year concludes-
wanderer's hat on my head
sandals on my feet

Tr. Sam Hamill

wearing my travelers hat
and my straw sandals
the year comes to an end

Tr. Gabi Greve

. Nozarashi Kiko 野ざらし紀行 1684 .

Buson wrote:

芭蕉去てその後 いまだ年暮れず
Basho satte sono nochi imada toshi kurezu

Since Basho left the world,
Not yet has
"The year drawn to its close."

Tr. Blyth

Blyth then quotes a passage from Buson's writings:
"Rushing along in the road to fame and riches, drowning in the sea of desire, people torture their ephemeral selves. Especially on New Year's Eve their behavior is unspeakable. Despicably walking about knocking at doors, treating everyone with contempt unnecessarily, insanely vulgar behavior, and so on, is not decent. Even so, we foolish mortals can hardly escape from this world of dust and sin.

The year draws to its close;
I am still wearing
My kasa and straw sandals.

Reading this poem quietly in a corner of the room, my mind becomes clear; were I living Basho's life, how good it would be! The verse is uplifting to me, and it may be called a Great Rest-and-Enlightenment as far as I am concerned. Basho once gone, we have no master to teach us, whether the year begins or ends."

Quoted from Happy Haiku Forum


. Yamada Naokimi 山田尚公 and Basho - .

The famous Death Haiku of Matsuo Basho
It is said he wrote this hokku on day 8 of the 10th lunar month
1694 元禄7年 10月8日
He died on day 12 of the 10th lunar month

It is generally held that Basho died at the Saru-no-Koku (around 4 o’ clock in the afternoon) on the 12th day of the Kamina-zuki (October according to the lunar calendar) of the 7th year of the Genroku Era, or 1694.
He was taken ill on his last journey in Osaka and came to the end of his 50 years of life at the house of Hanaya Nizaemon in Minami-Mido-Mae, watched by many of his disciples who hurriedly assembled at his bedside.
(The equivalent date of his death according to the solar calendar is 28 November.)
Susumu Takiguchi
. WKD : Basho Memorial Day 芭蕉忌 .

. - Hanaya Nizaemon 花屋仁左衛門 - .
and the death of Matsuo Basho in Osaka 大坂南御堂前

Basho had been ill since day 29 of the 9th lunar month.
Some sources say Basho had a student grind the ink for him, others say he dictated the poem to a student (Donshuu 呑舟 Donshu) and discussed various versions with him.

tabi ni yande yume wa kareno o kakemeguru

falling ill while travelling -
in my dreams I am wandering
over withered fields
Tr. Gabi Greve

source : blogs.yahoo.co.jp/kay31527
from the storage of temple Namba Betsuin 難波別院, Osaka

... ... ...

Ill on a journey;
My dreams wander
Over a withered moor.

Tr. Blyth

taken ill on a journey
a dream wanders
on a withered moor

Tr. Crowley

Sick on a journey,
my dreams wander
the withered fields.

Tr. Robert Hass

On a journey, ill –
And my dreams on withered fields
are wandering still.

Tr. Harold Henderson

on a journey, ailing —
my dreams roam about
on a withered moor

Tr. Ueda Makoto

I'm taken ill while travelling;
And my dreams roam o'er
withered moors.

Tr. Miyamori

ill and journeying -
my dreams keep roaming over
fields now withered all

Tr. Tim Chilcott

Near my journey's end,
In dreams I trudge the wild, waste moor,
And seek a kindly friend.

Tr. William Porter

ill on a journey
dreams in a withered field
wander around

Tr. Jane Reichhold

On a journey, ailing-
My dreams roam about
Over a withered moor


... ... ...

Сразил меня недуг,
но в мечтах - я всё брожу
средь сухих болот.

Srazil menja nedug,
no v mechtakh - ja vsjo brazhu
sred' sukhikh balot.

Sick on a journey, I
am still wand'ring in my dreams
on the withered moors...

Sick on a journey
dreams roam about
on a withered moor
Tr. Haruo Shirane

Russian translations by D.Smirnov

... ... ...

Auf einer Reise, krank :
Meine Träume irren
über vertrocknete Felder

Krank auf der Reise.
Meine Träume irren
übers verblühte Moor

Basho's Todestag. By Udo Wenzel

... ... ...

egy másik német
Auf einer Reise, krank:
Meine Träume irren
über vertrocknete Felder.

és egy harmadik német
Krank auf der Reise -
meine Träume irren noch
über ödes Land.

német (Das letzte Haiku)
Zu Ende das Wandern:
Mein Traum, auf dürrer Heide
huscht er umher.

Malade en chemin
en reve encore je parcours
la lande desséchée

spanyol, két helyről: egyik, másik
Habiendo enfermado en el camino,
mis suenos merodean
por páramos yermos.

In viaggio, ammalato
i sogni vagano sospesi
in una landa desolata.

Read a few more versions here.
Hungarian Versions

- - - - -

quote Takiguchi
In early May, 1694 (Genroku 7)1 Matsuo Basho set out westwards from his riverside hut in Fukagawa, Edo on a long journey whose destination is thought to have been Nagasaki. ...

Exactly five months later, one of his most famous and also his last poem was composed in Osaka:
Tabi ni yande yume wa kareno wo kake meguru
(Taken ill on a journey, my dreams roam over a moor).

Among various possible interpretations of this poem, one that is relevant to Basho's unceasing search for an improved style is that the poem reflects a demonic power which had possessed Basho and had driven him endlessly into writing poems. But looked at from the opposite point of view, the poem can be said to reflect the degree to which Basho despaired that the death which he felt was rapidly approaching would terminate his endeavour to perpetuate the creation of a new style.
Sadly, that actually came true four days later on 12th October 1694.

Susumu Takiguchi
source : worldhaikureview2

- - - - -

quote Higginson

ill on a journey
my dreams run around
withered fields

This poem, with its verb usually translated as something like "go wandering", was the last wholly new poem that Bashô wrote, soon after midnight about three and a half days before he died. It may be that he indeed expected this poem to be his last, though he lingered on a few days.

Much has been said about the solemnity in this poem. The following comment, by Meisetsu Naitô, one of Shiki’s earliest and staunchest supporters, is typical:

The poem well describes the lonely, helpless feeling of a man who has fallen ill during a journey.
Nôichi Imoto, that usually most level-headed of Bashô’s "interpreters", even seems at first to chide Bashô a bit in his assessment of this poem:

This is not a poem that expresses an enlightened mind. There is a dash of bitter sorrow as well as the sound of one gasping for breath. This is an unadorned, honest, truthful poem.

But when I consider the etymology of Bashô’s compound verb, I have to come to a different conclusion. For the two verbs of which this is made are kakeru, "to run" (also a homonym for "to break" and "to write" and "to cover" and "to bet" and "to begin"), and meguru, "to circle" or "to travel around". In addition to this etymology, it will be useful to know two more things about this nonce word, kakemeguru. First, it is not a common word in the Japanese language in any period. (Nor is either component a particularly common verbal prefix or suffix.) Second, while each of the homonyms indicated above for kakeru calls for the use of a different kanji (Sino-Japanese character), Bashô elects to write the first part of this compound verb in kana, a purely phonetic system that allows the full range of homonyms to come into play. (A half-dozen variations of this verse appear in print soon after Bashô’s death; all employ kana for the kake- part of this verb.)

So, I have to ask myself, was not Bashô a crafty delirious, fevered, sick, old poet when he packed all these meanings into the last word of his poem:

[my dreams] run around
[my dreams] cover [things] all around
[my dream] breaks [and scatters] around
[my illusion was to] bet on [traveling] all around
[my dream-like life has been devoted to] writing all around
[my dreams] were all [=nothing but] beginnings, everywhere
And then, of course, this "everywhere" that his dreams, in life and in death, are "running around" is this withered world of illusion. What could possibly be a bigger joke than this?

For many years, I was dissatisfied with this so-called "death-verse" of Bashô. But now taking a closer look at his marvelous word-crafting, I can accept it as his intended last poetic statement. How else to look at a life in this crazy world of shifting life and death blowing in the wind? As if to underline this view, Bashô in fact did write another poem the day after he wrote tabi ni yande; some scholars and poets believe that this truly last poem more accurately reflects the composed mind of the "saint of haiku" as he moved even closer to his end:

kiyotaki ya nami ni chirikomu aomatsuba

Clear Cascade . . .
scattering together into the waves
young pine needles

Why was this later poem not universally accepted as Bashô’s death verse? Because he is said to have called it a revision of a poem he had written earlier that summer, a poem that already existed in two versions, one of which goes thus:

kiyotaki ya nami ni chiri naki natsu no tsuki

Clear Cascade . . .
in the waves no speck
the summer moon

(The other version begins oigawa ya [The River Oi . . .]; scholars are divided over which version came first. The poem was apparently written where the smaller Kiyotaki meets the Oi.)

From the standpoint of craft, it is interesting to note that chiri, the noun I have translated as "speck" (and which means "dust" or "speck of dust"), though written in kanji, seems to have suggested to Bashô the homonymic verbal chiri-, which is written with a completely different kanji. (Bashô used the appropriate kanji in each version.)

I think we can all agree that Bashô’s final version of the poem is much superior to either of the earlier versions. The earlier versions present a three-part picture, three separate images, which do not quite come together. The later version operates in a purely psychological progression, first noting the location (with a vibrantly descriptive place name) and then following some action that resolves only as one focuses on those things in the water—what are they?—oh, young pine needles. The light blue-green needles of new growth from the tips of pine branches, so tender that some of them fall off in a light breeze, scattering down into the water. And the final "version" actually reverses the sense of the earlier ones, now seeing the clear water as including these small pine needles, no longer "without a speck".

Yes, however marvelous Bashô’s "dreams running around" verse may be, with its multiple meanings all bound in a singularly apt neologism, I think I will have to agree with Masahisa (Shinkû) Fukuda, master of the Milky Way Renku Club on Sado Island and professor of literature at Seikei University, that the last version of the Clear Cascade verse is in fact a new poem, and Bashô’s true final poetic statement.12 How amusing this life, in which we flourish for just a little while, then let go, falling together with our fellows into that pure water that is life and death itself. And so, the river feeds the tree that puts forth the needles that flourish and then fall off into the river, in an endlessly renewing cycle. We are but specks in the river of life. How wonderful, how joyously laughable, to be a part of that.

William Higginson
source : www.haijinx.org

kiyotaki ya nami ni chirikomu aomatsuba

clear cascade stream —
falling into the waves,
green pine needles

Tr. Barnhill

Written in 1695 元禄七年, Basho age 51.

. Matsuo Basho and Waterfalls .

- - - - - - - - - -

The Japanese kareno 枯野 is sometimes translated as "withered moors"
withered "moors", karehara 枯原 (かれはら)


The English word "moor" (Moor in German) has a very special meaning:
a moor, a bog or peat bog, a fen.

. How to translate "kareno" ? .

More haiku about travelling by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

- - - -

Sometimes, another hokku is quoted as the last one Basho wrote:

. shiragiku no me ni tatete miru chiri mo nashi .
for Sonome, written on day 27 of the 9th lunar month

MORE about the date of the death of Basho and his Memorial Day
. Basho's Day, Basho Ki 芭蕉忌 .
Winter Rain Anniversary (shigure ki 時雨忌, shigure-e 時雨会)
Old Master's Day (Okina no hi 翁の日)
Green Peach Day (Toosei ki 桃青忌) 

. death poems, farewell poems 辞世 jisei .


tsuki o kasa ni kite asoba ya tabi no sora


to wander with the moon
as a hat -
traveler's sky

Tr. Michael Haldane


katarau mo hakana no tomo ya tabi no sora

even talking
a fleeting friendship...
travelers' sky

This is part of the Renga : Three poets at Yuyama (1491).
Tr. William Higginson

We share a few words,
But friendships are fleeting
Under skies of travel.



樅高し 雲ながれゆく 明日は旅

the fir tree stands tall
a cloud floats past
tomorrow I am on my way

Endoo Sootoku 遠藤宗徳

Sootoku was a Zen priest.
He went to a haiku meeting in Koriyama town, wrote this haiku, went home, took a bath, talked to his family about his funeral preparations, put on the white robes of a dead man and died that night quietly.

( I translated KUMO .a cloud. as singular, it could be plural too. But I see it as the author on his way. The last line could also read
tomorrow, my journey begins)

alto l'abete
fluttua una nube intorno
domani saro in viaggio

(Tr. Moussia, WHC)


Tomorrow I sail for Brittany, looking forward (immensely) to that tabi no sora.

neither bed nor roof -
I breathe the cool
of a traveller's sky

ni lit ni toit...
je respire le frais
d'un ciel de voyage

noch bed noch dak -
ik adem in de koelte
van een reishemel

nek lit' nek tegment'...
spiri malvarmetecon
de vojaĝĉiel'

Norman Darlington
Translating Haiku Forum

Translation into Russian:

Ни кровати, ни крыши -
вдыхаю свежесть
неба путника

Остановился отдохнуть...
ни кровати, ни крыши -
вдыхаю свежесть неба.

Zhanna P. Rader

Translation into Romanian:

nici acoperis
nici pat;sa simti racoarea
unui cer de drumet

Cristian Mocanu


wanderlust ...
a small snail
on the fresh green moss

..... wanderlust ..... snail ..... moss .....

 © Gabi Greve, June 2008

Related words

***** Trekking , Trek (India, worldwide) trecking

***** Clear Autumn Sky (ten takashi)  


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 .

He wrote:
Last year I spent wandering along the seacoast. In autumn I returned to my cottage on the river and swept away the cobwebs. Gradually the year drew to its close. When spring came and there was mist in the air, I thought of crossing the Barrier of Shirakawa into Oku. I seemed to be possessed by the spirits of wanderlust, and they all but deprived me of my senses.
The guardian spirits of the road beckoned, and I could not settle down to work.
Tr. Keene

shared by Isabelle Loverro, JOJ

tabibito to waga na yobaren hatsu shigure

a traveller
that should be my name -
first winter drizzle

. Sumidagawa, Basho-An and Matsuo Basho .

More haiku about travelling by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .





Gabi Greve said...

"straw sandals"
one of the many necessities for a traveler in the Edo period.

oo zoori hitari-hitari mura shigure

big straw sandals
hard winter rain

This haiku has an irregular middle phrase of six, not the usual seven, syllables: hitari-hitari. In the previous year (1823), Issa writes a similar haiku:

dooshin boo ya zoori hita-hita mura shigure

Priest Doshin's straw sandals pitter-patter...
hard winter rain

In both haiku the expression, mura shigure, signifies winter rain that passes through strongly and incessantly; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 110; 1603.

David Lanoue, http://cat.xula.edu/issa/


New Year comes!
Daruma's worn sandals


Look at the BIG SANDALS here !

Daruma carrying one sandal


Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

kono umi ni / waranji suten / kasa shigure

Matsuo Basho

waraji 草鞋 straw sandals

Anonymous said...

chikatetsu mo mogura mo haru o matsu nakama

subway and a mole
they are comrades waiting
for the spring

Takano Mutsuo 高野ムツオ
(Tr. Fay Aoyagi)

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

yo o tabi ni shiro kaku oda no yuki modori

traveling the world
instead of tilling a small field
round and round

Tr. Addiss
1694 - 元禄七年

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

- Oomi 近江 89 poems written in Omi, Shiga -

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

- ukiyo 浮世 this floating world -

Basho and Issa . . .