A Haiku Menagerie: Living Creatures in Poems and Prints


“Only a limited cast of creatures appeared in waka, however, and most were linked with a season. Warblers in the spring, cuckoos in summer, and deer in fall were favored as embodiments of the poets’ emotions.”

“The hai in haiku (originally called haikai) means to deviate from the traditional and the ordinary, to be light-hearted–in contrast to the refined spirit of waka.”

“Although single-sheet prints of the ukiyo-e school have achieved a worldwide reputation, the prints created for woodblock books, representing many other schools of art, remain almost unknown.”

“Movable type was introduced both from Europe (a Jesuit mission brought a printing press to Japan in 1582) and from Korea, where it had long been known.”

“After 1650, the use of movable type was almost completely abandoned in favor of the more economical method of single-block printing, in which complete pages of text and illustrations could be carved and printed from a single board.”

“There was no difference in medium between image and text, allowing every variety of interplay between the two.”

“For those who could not afford to purchase books, by the middle of the Edo period there were more than eight hundred public lending libraries in Edo alone, and peddlers would rent as well as sell books to their clients.”

“Although woodblock illustrations were used in many different kinds of books, the finest artists often had their works gathered into gafu (picture books), and this volume illustrates some of the finest examples from gafu by artists of the Nanga (literati), Rimpa (decorative), and Maruyama-Shijo (naturalistic) schools.”

some quotes I found agreeable from A Haiku Menagerie by Stephen Addiss

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