Black and white image of Japanese haiku poet Kobayashi Issa.

Kobayashi Issa

(1763 - 1828)

Born in a snow-whipped mountain village in 1763, Kobayashi Issa lost his mother when he was two years old and, he later claimed, wrote a poem at the age of five because he was teased for being a “motherless child”: “Come here / and play with me, orphaned / little sparrow.” In 1777 he left for Edo, where he eventually studied with the poet Nirokuan Chikua. After his mentor’s death in 1790, Issa wandered around western Japan for nearly ten years, publishing his first poetry collection, Travel Gleanings, in 1795.

Issues Contributed