(1644 - 1694)
Born into the samurai class in 1644, Matsuo Bashō at the age of nine entered the service of a local lord and soon began writing poems. He went to Edo at the age of twenty-nine to pursue his interest in poetry and became a lay monk in 1679, the same year that he began composing in the form of haiku he would eventually popularize. To adorn his home, a student gave him a plantain tree, or bashō, which became the poet’s favorite nickname. At his death in 1694, Bashō left fifty ardent disciples devoted to his teachings.