February 9, 2011
Haiga 497 Yosa Buson haiku 7
Haiku by Yosa Buson. Artwork by Kuniharu Shimizu.
Hototogisu, or cuckoo, is the kigo of summer, so this haiku is about the season. But what interests me is the word "diagonally".
The city of Heian is a planned city, modeled after old Chinese capital city; the streets are just like in the haiga, in rigid lattice. And this lattice shape corrisponds to the ritual manner also. Many formal ceremonies took place at the emperor's palace. One basic rule of human movements in the formal ritual is that you never move diagonally, they should be always right-angled.
I know this because a part of my priestly learning included the ritual manners.
Knowing all these, our appreciation of the word "diagonally" deepens more. Cuckoo is so free, free from all the rigidness and restraints in human world, which culminates at the emperor's city.