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Kurita Chodo

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A wooden plaque (hengaku) at the Buddhist temple Manshû-ji, in Mitarai, commissioned or produced by Kurita, based on calligraphy by Ryukyuan scholar-aristocrat Ryô Kôchi
  • Birth: 1749
  • Death: 1814/8/21
  • Other Names: 後藤政範 (birth name: Gotou Masanori), 蘭芝, 二畳庵, 息隠 (poetry names: Ranshi, Nijouan, Sokuin)
  • Japanese: 栗田樗堂 (Kurita Chodou)

Kurita Chodô was a haikai poet of the late 18th and early 19th century; he was considered one of the seven great haikai poets (the shichi-haijin) of his time.

Kurita was born in 1749 in Matsuyama (Iyo province, Shikoku), the son of saké brewer Buzen-ya Kiemon, but married into the Kurita family, and took on that surname as his own. For over thirty years, from age 23 in 1771 until age 54 in 1802, he served as a local town elder (machikata ô-toshiyori) in one of the neighborhoods of Matsuyama.

Taking up an interest in haikai, Kurita studied under Kyoto-based poet Katô Kyôtai, and had close interactions with Kobayashi Issa and Inoue Shirô. For example, he is known to have engaged in poetry recital alongside Kobayashi Issa on an occasion in 1795, at Matsuyama's famous Dôgo Onsen.

After retiring from his official civic position in Matsuyama, Kurita relocated sometime in the first years of the 1800s to the port town of Mitarai (today part of Kure City, Hiroshima prefecture), which lies roughly halfway between his home province of Iyo and the Honshû mainland. As Mitarai lay along the major Inland Sea trading routes, Kurita remained well-informed and well-connected, but also led a relatively quiet life in retirement, composing poetry, and publishing numerous poetry collections.

Kurita died on 1814/8/21, and was buried at Manshû-ji in Mitarai. A wooden plaque, or hengaku, which still hangs in the temple's main hall (hondô) was created by Kurita, with the help of Kyoto-based woodcarver Yura Jûbei, as a copy of a work of calligraphy, also still today in the temple's collection, by Ryukyuan envoy Ryô Kôchi.[1]

References

  • "Kurita Chodô," Nihon jinmei daijiten 日本人名大辞典, Kodansha, 2009.
  • Mitarai tsûshin 御手洗通信 no. 2, Aug 1997, p2.
  1. Shirarezaru Ryûkyû shisetsu 知られざる琉球使節, Fukuyama-shi Tomonoura rekishi minzoku shiryôkan (2006), 37.; plaques on-site at Manshû-ji.
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