Best 10 famous Matsuo Basho’s haiku poems in Japanese and English

(Last Updated On: 29/10/2019)

Portrait of Matsuo Basho from “Hokusai Manga”, by Katsushika Hokusai


Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) made about 1000 haiku poems in his lifetime with the jouney around Japan. His writing “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” is the most famous haiku collection in Japan.

Among them, I would like to introduce you the 10 famous examples of his “Sabi” works including about old pond and frog, cicada and his death poem .

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The haiku poems are shown in original Japanese 5-7-7 syllables, and translated to English three lines style to realize the meaning.

Other famous haiku poets

The Narrow Road to Deep North



草の戸も 住替る代ぞ ひなの家

Kusa no to mo/ Sumikawaru yo zo/ Hina no ie


The door of thatched hut

Also changed the owner.

At the Doll’s Festival.

*Basho gave his house another before going on a journey. Apparently it seems that the new residents were a family with girls.



行春や 鳥啼き魚の 目は泪

Yuku haru ya/ Tori naki uwo no/ Me ha namida


Spring is passing.

The birds cry, and the fishes fill

With tears on their eyes.


*”Spring is passing” often means an eternal parting. The birds and the fishes mean Basho and his friends.



夏草や 兵どもが 夢の跡

Natsukusa ya/ Tsuwamonodomo ga/ Yume no ato


Grasses in summer.

The warriors’ dreams

All that left.

*Hiraizumi prospered as the independent country from Japan centered on Kyoto. However in the late Heian Period, the Kamakura government destroyed it.



五月雨の 降のこしてや 光堂

Samidare no/ Furinokosite ya/ Hikari-do


The early summer rain

Leaves behind



*Hikari-do: Konjikido. One of the hall of Chusonji, in Hiraizumi.



閑けさや 岩にしみいる 蝉の声

Shizukesa ya/ Iwa ni shimiiru/ Semi no koe


Ah, tranquility!

Penetrating the very rock,

A cicada’s voice.

Translated by Helen Craig Mccullough

*The haiku poem at Risshakuji Temple, Yamagata Prefecture.


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Scenic Yamadera (Risshakuji) Temple in Yamagata



五月雨を あつめてはやし 最上川

Dewa. Mogami River, A Perspective View of Mount Gassan by Utagawa Hiroshige.

Samidare wo/ Atsumete Hayashi/ Mogamigawa



The early summer rain,

Gathering it and fast

Mogami River.

Other Basho’s famous haiku poems



古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音

Furuike ya/ Kawazu tobikomu/ Mizu no oto


To an old pond

A frog leaps in.

And the sound of the water.

*What is the meaning of this frog and pond haiku poem?



物いへば 唇寒し 秋の風

Mono ieba/ Kuchibiru samushi/ Aki no kaze


Saying something,

The lip feel cold.

The Autum wind.


*The haiku poem expresses about that people told a bad mouth about someone. It is a  rare poetry with self-discipline by Basho.



粽結ふ 片手にはさむ 額髪

Chimaki yu/ Katate ni hasamu/ Hitai gami

Tieing the Chimaki,


Other hand hold,

Her bangs. 

*Chimaki: A rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Eating at Boys’ Festival


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Japanese traditional event “Boys’ Festival”, and Samurai helmet



旅に病んで 夢は枯野を かけ廻る

Tabi ni yande/ Yume wa kareno wo/ Kakemeguru


Sicking on journey,

My dream run about

The desolate field.

*The last haiku poems of Matsuo Basho. As in the preface of Oku-no Homichi, it is a farewell poem of him who was obsessed by a journey.

Read other haiku poems about death by famous poets?




CHAPTER ONE: Early Pomes 1662-74

CHAPTER TWO:Basho Professional Poet 1675-79

CHAPTER THREE: Retreat to Nature-A Religious Life 168-83

CHAPTER FOUR: Basho’s Journeys in the Way of the Poet 1684-88

CHAPTER FIVE: Basho’s Journey to the Interior 1689

CHAPTER SIX: At the Peak and Still Travelling 16090-91

CHAPTER SEVEN: Basho Finds the Secrets of Greatness of Poetry and Life 1692-94

Do you look for more books about Matsuo Basho?

Booklist about Matsuo Basho

More Basho’s haiku poems

Other famous Japanese poets

Other traditional Japanese poetry “Tanka”

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2 thoughts on “Best 10 famous Matsuo Basho’s haiku poems in Japanese and English

  • The haiku poems are shown in original Japanese 5-7-7 syllables, and translated to English three lines style to realize the meaning.

    your mistake
    5-7-5 haiku

    • Thank you for leaving a comment!

      As you look into, the number of the syllables of the haiku poem is seventeen not nighnteen, because that was originally the upper part (上の句, kami-no ku) of tanka poems (5-7-5-7-7). In more detail, the haiku was the first upper part of “haikai” funny linked poem (starting from 5-7-5-7-7).

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