Haiga: Takebe Söchō
and the Haiku-Painting Tradition

First published in Woodnotes #29, Summer 1996, page 46.

Haiga: Takebe Sōchō and the Haiku-Painting Tradition by Stephen Addiss. Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond, in association with University of Hawaii Press. 1995, 136 pages, paperback, 8 by 11 inches. $19.95 at bookstores. Haiku comes alive with its greatest vibrancy in the Japanese tradition of haiga—the illustration of haiku or the juxtaposition of a painting with haiku. Addiss’s most recent book focuses on this art form as a companion to the first exhibition of haiga in the United States, which traveled to five galleries across the country in 1995 and 1996. The catalogue includes poem-paintings produced in the eras of Bashō, Buson, Issa, and in modern times, with a special focus on Takebe Söchō (1761–1814), complete with essays on the art form and in-depth commentaries on each painting in the exhibit. Haiku poets will enjoy the extensive selection of haiku in translation in the context of the scrolls and paintings in which they make an artistic as well as a literary impression. One can enjoy this fine book for its text and its art, and I recommended it highly. Do find a copy while you can, or order it from the University of Hawaii Press soon.