Keiji Sato reports on an incredible find at the Tenri Central Library (Original article courtesy of The Asahi Shimbun)

More than 200 previously unknown poems by leading Edo Period (1603-1867) haikuist and artist Yosa Buson have been found in an anthology at the Tenri Central Library in Nara, Japan.

Shinichi Fujita, a professor of haiku in the early modern era at Kansai University in Osaka Prefecture, said, “Buson is someone who we thought had already been thoroughly researched. It is a shock to find a compilation of his poems unknown until now.”

Buson (1716-1783) is considered one of the three great haiku masters of the Edo Period, along with Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) and Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828).

The anthology contains 212 previously unknown haiku poems.

For such a large number of poems to come to light in one go is extremely rare.

Two of the poems read:

Large-eyed dragonfly
flies from here to there
while wearing glasses

Paper umbrella
with holes poking through allows
moonlight to shine down

The poems are contained in two volumes that are copies of an anthology put together by Buson’s disciples while he was alive.

Tenri Central Library, affiliated with Tenri University, purchased the volumes four years ago from a bookstore.

Researchers cross-referenced the poems found in the anthology with the nine-volume complete works of Buson published by Kodansha Ltd. Of the 1,903 poems arranged by season in the anthology, 212 were confirmed as having been never seen before.

The anthology was known to exist even before World War II. A specialty haiku magazine published in 1934 introduced 35 poems said to be contained in that anthology. However, the whereabouts of the anthology became unclear.

A total of about 2,900 haiku poems have been attributed to Buson.

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