Fuyugomori / 冬篭り : Issa’s Haiku of Winter Seclusion

ZP_A light snowfall 2_Toronto Canada December 13th 2013

Toronto, Canada, December 2013…

The early arrival of not cold but unusually cold temperatures we associate with January – normally – may have people feeling sad – or feeling S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  Well, poetry’s been there before; witness these Haiku composed two hundred years ago…

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Kobayashi Issa / 小林 一茶 (Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest, 1763-1828)


no nashi wa tsumi mo mata nashi fuyugomori

no good deeds
but also no sins…
winter isolation.



asana-asana yaki daiko kana fuyugomori

morning after morning –
damn roasted radishes –
winter seclusion!



fuyugomori akumono-gui no tsunori keri

winter seclusion…
on a foul food eating


Foul food” may have referred to cicada pupae or “bee worms” but might also have meant beef – something prohibited by Issa’s Buddhism.


he kurabe ga mata hajimaru zo fuyugomori

the farting contest
begins again…
winter confinement.



hito soshiru kai ga tatsunari fuyugomori

another party held
to badmouth other people –
winter confinement.



sewazuki ya fushô-bushô ni fuyugomori

the busy-body reluctantly
his winter seclusion.



neko no ana kara mono wo kau samusa kana

buying from the peddlar
through the cat’s door…
it’s cold!



fuyugomoru mo ichi nichi futsuka kana

one more day
of winter confinement…
makes two.


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Gabi Greve writes:

Fuyugomori / 冬篭り means “winter seclusion/isolation/confinementin Japanese.

In rural Japan, especially in the Northern areas along the coast of the Sea of Japan, the winter was long and brought enormous amounts of snow. There was nothing much to do but wait it out. Farmhouses were difficult to heat and the family huddled around the hearth – iroriin the kitchen. Great endurance was required during such winter seasons.

Fuyugomori also may refer to cold-season hibernation – the habit of bears – and the “fantasy” of numerous Canadians at this time of year!


ZP_A light snowfall_Toronto Canada December 13th 2013

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