Kawahigashi Hekigodo

Born on February 26, 1873, Kawahigashi Hekigodo was one of the pioneers of modern haiku.  Also known by his pen name, Seikei, Kawahigashi was born into a samurai class family and was the son of a Confucian scholar. Although Kawahigashi loved being an adventurer climbing mountains, dancing and travelling to Europe, he was also passionate about poetry, social criticism, and journalism.

Kawahigashi studied and learned under Masaoka Shiki, one of the four pioneers of modern haiku and was close friends with Takahama Kyoshi, another disciple of Shiki.  As a haiku poet, Kawahigashi was also the editor of Japanese magazines.  Additionally, he published various books on haiku towards the end of the 19th century.  Upon the death of Master Masaoka Shiki, Kawahigashi and Kyoshi went separate ways in terms of their poetry.

Kawahigashi worked hard at revolutionizing traditional haiku writing.  He advocated a more modern style that rejected the metric pattern of 5-7-5 syllables and the use of Kigo, or “season words.”  He travelled across Japan from 1907 till 1911 to introduce the new modern haiku style.  Some of the notable compilations of Kawahigashi include Hekigoto kushu, which include many of his famous haiku, and the Sanzenri, which documents his travels.

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