Face faces (kao)


Face faces (kao)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


face - 顔 kao, 面 tsura

The face is a central sense organ complex, normally on the ventral surface of the head for animals that have one. It can, depending on the definition in the human case, include the hair, forehead, eyebrow, eyelashes, eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, mouth, lips, philtrum, temple, teeth, skin, and chin.

The face has uses of expression, appearance, and identity amongst others. It also has different senses like olfaction, taste, hearing, and vision.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


. kao aru 顔荒る rough, dry face skin .
humanity kigo for all winter

Worldwide use

"The face of God", for a good Christian,
might evoke the image of the old man with a white beard.
Translating this "kami no kao" is really difficult.


Things found on the way

. Morning-Glory (asagao 朝顔) .
lit. "morning face"
"Night Face", yorugao 夜顔 giant moonflower
yuugao 夕顔 "evening face" bottel gourd
hirugao  昼顔 bindweed


- - - - - Matsuo Basho

kao ni ninu hokku mo ideyo hatsu zakura

I will write hokku
that do not resemble my face -
first cherry blossoms

. Matsuo Basho and Hokku .
元禄7年 - 1694, Autumn
Discussion of this hokku

. . . . .

nao mitashi hana ni ake yuku kami no kao

all the more i wish to see
in those blossoms at dawn
the face of god

Tr. Makoto Ueda

all the more i wish to see
in those blossoms at dawn
the face of this god

This god, he is the most ugly deity of Japan! Hitokotonushi!
. Hitokotonushi 一言主 God of One Word .
Discussion of this hokku

. . . . .

toogan ya tagai ni kawaru kao no nari

this wax gourd -
how great the changes
of our faces

元禄7年, 1694
written at Iga, Ueno, where he met an old woman, whom he had known in his youth. Now both had old, wrinkeld faces.

. toogan (冬瓜 white gourd-melon; a wax gourd .
lit. "winter melon"
Benincasa hispida

. . . . .

kami haete yoogan aoshi satsuki ame

my hair has grown
my face is pale -
samidare rain

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 貞亨4年, Basho age 44

Basho is looking in the mirror and sees his pale face.
It reflects his poverty and the mood of the long rainy season.

. . . . .

. yamabuki no tsuyu na no hana no kakochigao naru ya .
the rapeseed flowers make a face of envy !

MORE - hokku about himself :
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Kobayashi Issa

fukuroo mo tsuraguse naose haru no ame

cheer up, owl!
the spring rain
is falling

Tr. David Lanoue

I think the point here is fukuro moo MO ...

you too, owl,
change your facial expression -
rain in spring

One can hear the wife of the author talking ...

Kaneko Tohta explains,
Issa wrote this haiku because his wife nagged him to cheer up, but it is in fact an expression of his love for the wife.
He sees Issa as an arabonpu 荒凡夫 , a wild but normal man, who lived freely with the earth and on the earth.

. . . . .

asamashi to fugu ya miruran hito no kao

looking shameful
to the pufferfish...
people's faces

Tr. David Lanoue

. Blowfish (fugu, 河豚 ) .


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

kichijitsu no o-kao nari keri hiina-tachi

wearing their lucky day
the dolls

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 3rd month (April) of 1824.
Festival dolls have been set up and displayed on a table or stand for a week or perhaps two weeks before the actual Doll Festival on 3/3, which has now finally come. "Lucky day" can also be "special day" or "auspicious day," but here it probably refers to the day of the festival on 3/3.
Most of the sitting dolls are miniature aristocrats (including the emperor) who wear formal clothes and have stiff faces, so Issa calls them o-kao, honorable faces. Their formal expressions and clothes earlier seem to have looked out of place to Issa, but now, on 3/3, the expressions and robes of the dolls match the formality of the 3/3 festival, and for one day the dolls are lucky: they seem to be part of the real world and belong exactly where they are.

Chris Drake

. Hina Doll Festival (hina matsuri 雛祭り) .

yoku tsura e abise-kaketaru sakura kana
yoku-zura e abisekaketaru sakura kana

the cherry tree
showers its blossoms
onto greedy faces

Tr. Chris Drake

This wryly humorous spring hokku was found among Issa's writings after his death. As so often, Issa seems to be writing from the tree's point of view. Some blossom viewers have been smitten with one beautiful tree and have been staring at it greedily for some time. Their eyes just can't get enough of it, yet their fixated faces show they fear the blossoms will soon fall. They're obviously looking at what they want to see, not the reality of the blossoms, which are changing moment by moment. The tree seems to pity the blossom-viewers, since their desire to stop time and possess unchanging beauty is completely unrealistic. Perhaps out of compassion, or perhaps with the collaboration of the wind, the tree gently yet firmly shows the viewers that cherry blossoms are just like everything else in the world, only more so.

Flowers can also be the greedy or desirous ones, as in this early autumn hokku by Issa from 1815:

yoku-zura no asagao tanto sakinikeri

morning glories bloom
all over the place

Issa plays on the fact that asagao, morning glory, literally means "morning face." The vivid colors of the morning glories seem to display their deep desire to bloom, and their greed to flourish has resulted in a riotous display of pure vegetative desire.

Chris Drake

Related words

***** . Body Parts and Haiku .

. WKD - LIST of haiku topics and Keywords  





Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

utsukushiki sono hime uri ya kisaki zane

Written in 寛文12年, Basho age 29
He had left his homeland, Iga Ueno, and decided to take permanent residence in Edo.

how beautiful
is this princess melon !
an oval queen's face

Matsuo Basho - Melon Haiku

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

kami haete / yōgan aoshi / satsuki ame

Matsuo Basho

yoogan 容顔
face, appearance

Basho about himself . . .

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

warau beshi naku beshi / waga asagao no / shibomu toki

Matsuo Basho

Hokku about Laughing

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

yuki o matsu joogo no kao ya inabikari

the faces of us sake drinkers
as we wait for the snow -
flash of lightning

Matsuo Basho
Tr. Gabi Greve

about joogo, the sake drinkers