15 July 2009


"The rains of the long journey have torn my hat, and my coat has crumbled in the daily storms... I suddenly remember the master of the wild verse, Chikusai, wandering in the old days on these paths," wrote Matsuo Bashō before he opened Winter Days, a famous renku (linked verse), with the following hokku:

In the withering gusts
a wanderer -
how much like Chikusai I have become!

In order to make a renku, Japanese poets sat in a circle, and the verses traveled from one poet to the next. The first poet, the master of verse – Bashō in this case - wrote the first three verses (the hokku), then the next poet borrowed the previous poet’s ending verse and added his two verses to construct a new poem, and so it went all the way to the last poet in the circle.
Winter Days was made in the 17th century by a circle of 36 poets.
In 2003, Kihachirō Kawamoto gave life to Winter Days as a linked animation by inviting 36 animators to each create a 30-seconds long animation of verses written by each of the 36 poets. Yuri Norstein, the master of wild animation, was invited to create an animation of Bashō's hokku. Norstein created this minute long animation in which the two wanderers - Bashō, the poet and Chikusai, the character of lore – meet.

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