One of the most important sites in Japanese literary history is this hermitage where Mukai Kyorai (1651-1704) enjoyed his solitude. He was one of the most distinguished disciples of Basho. Over the years many haikai poets, including Basho, visited here and it became like a haikai center which always welcomes haikai poets.
Mukai Kyorai, original name Mukai Kanetoki, also called Rakushisha (born 1651, Nagasaki, Japan—died Oct. 8, 1704, Kyōto), Japanese haiku poet of the early Tokugawa period (1603–1867) who was one of the first disciples of the haiku master Matsuo Bashō.
Kyorai first trained as a samurai, but at age 23 he gave up martial service and turned to the writing of poetry. In 1684 he made the acquaintance of Takarai Kikaku, a disciple of Bashō, and shortly thereafter Kyorai also became a disciple. He built a small retreat on the outskirts of Kyōto, which Bashō often used. There Bashō wrote Saga nikki (1691; “Saga Diary”).
Kyorai helped edit two major collections of haiku by Bashō and his followers, Arano (1689; “Wilderness”) and Sarumino (1691; “The Monkey’s Raincoat”). After his master’s death in 1694 Kyorai devoted himself to teaching haiku and to interpreting Bashō’s works. He published several anthologies of his own poetry and essays that illustrated his principles, including Kyorai shō (1775; “Conversations with Kyorai”) and Tabine ron (1778; “Discourses of a Weary Traveler”).
Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) is one of the most famous poets of the Edo period. For Bashō, haikai involved a combination of comic playfulness and spiritual depth, ascetic practice and involvement in human society. The first time in Japanese literary history that the word haikai was first used was at the beginning of the 10th century. Haikai is an idea that goes beyond material forms of art, its a mode of thinking, speaking and acting. Matsuo Bashō was the greatest figure active in Japanese haikai during the latter half of the seventeeth century. He did not only compose haikai poetry but he also created masterpieces in a variety of genres, including renku(linked verse), haibun(haikai-style prose), and haiga(haikai paintings).Bashō’s haikai treated of the ordinary, everyday lives of commoners. In contrast to traditional Japanese poetry, he portrayed figures from popular culture such as the beggar, the traveller and the farmer. In crystallizing the newly popular haikai he played a significant role in giving birth to modern haiku, which reflected the common culture.