Following the heart


Thank you to everyone who responded to my “On The Road” prompt last week.  It was a pleasure to read your beautiful and inspiring poetry and haibun.

This week’s prompt is inspired by the life and work of the wandering nun, Kikusha-Ni or Tagami Kikusha as she is sometimes called.


Kikusha was a woman who defied the conventions of her time.   She refused to marry again after being widowed at 24.   Instead she became a Buddhist nun and took up the life of a wanderer.

At 29, inspired by haiku and Basho’s journey she made her own journey to the deep north.  It took her four years for she often stopped for extended periods to study subjects that interested her.   At one point she spent a year learning from the haiku master, Chobo-en Sankyo.   Moving on from there she visited the hometown of the poetess Chiyo (1703-75) and stayed overnight at the home of Chiyo’s adopted son.    From there she journeyed on visiting many of the shines and temples Basho had visited.

This style of wandering from place to place to study and to visit sacred sites became a way of life for Kikusha.   During her forties she became very interested in Chinese music and poetry and spent years in Nagasaki studying with Confucian poets and painters.  There she developed her own unique style of haiga which often incorporated Chinese style calligraphic painting with Japanese haiku.

This independent spirit comes across in her haiku.   There is an immediacy to her connection with the world around her that speaks to me of the Buddhist concept of the interconnection of all life.

on the summer hills
I saw a cloud – that’s all
there was in Yoshino

That first cry
it was not my imagination
– a mountain cuckoo

‘puppy’ by Kikusha-N

We are just
the moon and I –
cold on the bridge

When she was 64 Kikusha-Ni returned to her home town following the death of her mother.   There she stayed until her own death at age 73.

Throughout her life Kikusha-Ni followed the dictates of her own heart – guided always by her own free spirit.

To walk
with the moon as a hat –
the traveler’s heaven

PROMPT:  Create a haiku, tanka, haibun or haiga inspired by Kikusha-Ni’s love of life and her appreciation of the natural world.   Please post a link to your work in the comment thread below.   Thankyou.



27 thoughts on “Following the heart

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  7. Hi Suzanne:
    One of the aspects of Tagami Kikusha’s writing that struck me was how she includes herself. So I allowed that to guide me when I wrote a tanka about wild turkeys behind the house. Thanks again for your essay and prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janice. As you may have read I have decided to end these prompts. I am finding them difficult to write and have other creative projects that are taking my time and energy. I’m glad you got something out of this one. Thanks for responding. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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