Kawahigashi Hekigodo (1873-1937) was, along with his friend Takahama Kyoshi, one of the most prominent students of the great modern haiku master Masaoka Shiki. Hekigodo was born in Matsuyama, like Shiki, and was the son of a Confucian scholar.

Perhaps the best word to describe Hekigodo is "restless". He dabbled in mountain climbing, calligraphy, Noh dancing, traveled to Europe, North America, China, and Mongolia, and wrote journalism, literary and social criticism, and poetry. At Shiki’s death in 1902, Hekigodo succeeded him as editor of the haiku pages in the newspaper Nihon (or Nippon) and for a brief time was the most important figure in the Japanese haiku world.

One of Shiki’s radical innovations was to abandon all the rules for writing haiku except for the 5-7-5 count of onji and the kigo, or season word. Hekigodo took the experiment one step further and abandoned the count of 17 onji in favor of "free verse" haiku. He retained the kigo because he felt it was an essential connection to the natural world.

Hekigodo’s students, led by Ogiwara Seisensui (who actually had been fooling around with free verse even before Hekigodo), broke with him and began even more radical experiments. They abandoned the use of the kigo, breaking the last connection with traditional haiku. Takahama Kyoshi, who had left haiku to write novels, came back to poetry and advocated a return to traditional haiku in the pages of the once radical Hototogisu. Caught between these two groups, Hekigodo became an increasingly frustrated and isolated figure in the world of haiku.

Before he died, he increasingly devoted himself to the study of traditional haiku, especially that of Yosa Buson.

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