Matsuo Basho: The Narrow Road to Oku

In 1689 the poet Basho wrote his famous fifth travel diary describing his spring and summer journey with Sora, his companion, into the northern hinterland of Japan.

The narrative is studded with haiku commemorative of things seen or felt, of the blossoming moment in nature and society, the joys and discomforts encountered.

The peaks of clouds
Have crumbled into fragments –
The moonlit mountain.

Plagued by fleas and lice,
I hear the horses staling
Right by my pillow.

Printed on high grade paper, this edition is translated by Donald Keene and beautifully illustrated with colourful paper cut-outs by Miyata Masayuki.

Key Quotation

  • The months and the days are travellers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers. Those who float away their lives on ships or who grow old leading horses are forever journeying, and their homes are wherever their travels take them. (p. 19)

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)


Miyata Masayuki (1926-1997)


Donald Keene (1922-2019)