RAKUSHISHA

Rakushisha (落柿舎, “Hut” or “Hermitage of Fallen Persimmons”) is a 17th-century cultural monument in the historical district of Saga-Arashiyama northwest of Kyōto. Rakushisha consists of a simple house with clay walls and thatched roof bordering a rice field along one side. The current hut is supposed to be a near replica of the original. A small garden contains stones inscribed with haiku, including some by Matsuo Bashō, and beyond is a small cemetery where Kyorai is buried. Nearby, a well thought to have been owned by 15th-century renga master Iio Sōgi is marked with a simple stone. A few museum-type exhibits adorn the inside walls of Rakushisha.


Rakushisha, the Hermitage of Fallen Persimmons,
in Saga-Arashiyama, west of Kyoto.
Photo: Ikomaike Takaoka: Sightseeing in Kyoto website

Mukai Kyorai, a wealthy merchant and chief among the ten main disciples of Matsuo Bashō, built the hermitage. Kyorai had cultivated forty persimmon trees on the property and was just planning to harvest and sell the fruit when an overnight windstorm took the whole crop, hence the name “Hut of Fallen Persimmons.”

Matsuo Bashō visited Rakushisha several times and wrote Saga nikki (嵯峨日記 Saga Diary) during his stay there in 1691. This haiku with a headnote concluded Saga nikki :

Regretting tomorrow’s departure from 
the Villa of Fallen Persimmons, I
walked around gazing at all the rooms 
from back to front,

五月雨や色紙へぎたる壁の跡
samidare ya   shikishi hegitaru   kabe no ato

summer rains —
     poem cards peeled off,
          their traces on the wall

                    David Landis Barnhill, trans., 
                    Bashō's Haiku (2004) #554

Rakushisha is a highlight of haiku tourists’ visits in Japan. It is located within walking distance of Arashiyama, the Ōi and Katsura rivers, and other sites featured in the haiku of poets for centuries. The hut is especially beloved by Stephen Henry Gill and the Kyōto-based Hailstone Haiku Circle, which holds meetings at Rakushisha and is deeply involved in the cleanup and conservation of nearby historic Mount Ogura.

Author: Charles Trumbull

Adapted from: japan365days.com website

SOURCES / FURTHER READING (PRINT):

  • Barnhill, David Landis, trans. and introduction. Bashō’s Haiku: Selected Poems of Matsuo Bashō. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2004.

SOURCES / FURTHER READING (ONLINE):

Updated on April 18, 2021