Yamazaki Sokan
Nationality: Japanese poet
Region: Japan, Shikoku?
Notable works: "Inu tsukuba shu"

Yamazaki Sokan Facts

Biography

Yamazaki Sokan, (born c. 1465, Omi province, Japan--died c. 1552, Shikoku?), Japanese renga ("linked-verse") poet of the late Muromachi period (1338-1573) who is best known as the compiler of Inu tsukuba shu (c. 1615; "Mongrel Renga Collection"), the first published anthology of haikai (comic renga).

Little is known of Sokan's life. According to tradition he served as a retainer to the shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa and became a monk after Yoshihisa's death in 1489. Numerous other legendary tales exist concerning his unconventional lifestyle, which usually characterize him as being destitute and mad, but historical evidence indicates that he earned a comfortable income from teaching poetry and from his calligraphy.

The Inu tsukuba shu, containing haikai by Sokan and others, was probably written over a period of several years but was not published until some 100 years after its completion. The delay in publication may have been because Sokan compiled the book for the use of his students and did not intend for it to be published. A more likely reason, however, is the coarse and profane nature of many of its poems. Despite their earthiness, the poems contained a wit and freshness that appealed to the aspiring haikai poets of the 17th century, especially those of the Danrin school, who often tried to imitate their style.

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