Takahama Kyoshi (1874
) was, along with his friend Kawahigashi Hekigodo
, was one of the most prominent students of the great modern master of Japanese haiku
, Masaoka Shiki
. All three men were from Matsuyama
. Kyoshi was editor of Hototogisu
"), the magazine that was founded by Shiki and the experimental "Nihon
school" of poets.
After Shiki’s death in 1902
, Kyoshi conceded the title of Japan
’s foremost haiku poet to Hekigodo and abandoned poetry for novels, such as Haikaishi
("Haiku Poet", 1909
became a vehicle for modernist
fiction and ceased publishing haiku.
, Kyoshi did an about face. Like many other poets, Kyoshi was dismayed at the increasingly radical experimentation of poets like Hekigodo and his even more radical students like Ogiwara Seisensui
. Kyoshi and Hototogisu
returned to haiku with a vengeance, advocating a strict conservative approach to the form.
To be fair, it wasn’t so much that Kyoshi was against the experimentation; what he objected to was the fact that these poems were called haiku. Kyoshi felt that the haiku was a classical poetic form and should be treated as such. A poet was free to write in whatever form he or she chose, but the poem was either a haiku or it wasn’t.
In practice, however, Kyoshi became the head of a dogmatic movement which dominated Japanese haiku and stifled experimentation. At first, plenty of poets flocked to him and his advocacy of a return to traditional poetic ideas. But other poets chafed at his strict rules and were "excommunicated" from the movement and shut out of the pages of Hototogisu
continued under the stewardship of Kyoshi’s son Toshio, who died in 1979
shortly before the magazine’s 1000th issue in 1980
. As far as I know, the magazine still exists.