Created Images of Author Yosa Buson

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The traditional biographers of Yosa Buson (1716-1783) have reconstructed various images of Buson from his life and work without taking into consideration other socio-historical factors of his practice as a poet-painter. This paper examines how past and contemporary poets, scholars and intellectuals have treated Buson and his poetry, and what sort of image of the poet they have created out of their analyses.

These studies of Buson as a poet show that Shiki established an approach of treating Buson in comparison with Bashô, and scholars and intellectuals after Shiki’s time have often accepted the approach without question. They constantly project a static image of each poet based upon images in his poetry, and based on those images, they compare and contrast their philosophies of life or personalities. Their discussion always remains within the realm of aesthetics and philosophy. Although some scholars attempt to incorporate historical contexts into their analyses, they still end up discussing the two poets’ different personalities or philosophical differences. Consequently, for generation after generation, their studies have reinforced the image of Buson as an aesthete living in solitude without realizing that they themselves have been mystified by those images. Strongly bound by their projected images, they have never noticed that their adoption of this approach eventually conceals them from seeing other possible mediations between Buson and his poetry.

I hope that this paper will show that the traditional studies of Buson and his poetry disregard the important point, namely, Buson’s socio-historically constituted practice, and leave the door for a new analysis of Buson that will demystify Buson’s romanticized image as a poet-painter who worked only for aesthetic purposes.


Keywords: Buson, Biography, Created Images
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Toshiko Yokota

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures, California State University, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA, USA

I am an assistant professor of Japanese language and literature at California State University, Los Angeles. I am interested in cultural production in 18th-century Japan, and currently working on a project on Yosa Buson, a poet-painter, and his practice as a literatus.

Ref: H08P0406