Taneda Santoka (1882-1940) was born a son of a large landowner in Yamaguchi and named Shoichi; mother committed suicide when he was ten; dropped out of Waseda University, Tokyo, after a nervous breakdown, started a sake brewery at 25,; married at 27; acquired the habit of drinking heavily at 28; first haiku appeared in Ogiwara Seisensui’s non-traditional haiku magazine Soun ( Cumulus) at age 31; moved to Kumamoto with family and started a secondhand book store when 34; legally divorced at 38; while in Tokyo, was arrested and jailed in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake, in 1923; back in Kumamoto , taken to a Zen temple of the Soto sect as a result of drunken behavior at 42; ordained a Zen monk at 43; for the rest of his life was mostly on the road as a mendicant monk ( in practical terms, a beggar), traveling throughout Japan; at 53 attempted suicide; his book of haiku Somokuto ( Grass and Tree Cairn) – an assemblage of earlier chapbooks- was published several months before he died of a heart attack while asleep drunk; the book’s dedication was “to my mother/who hastened to her death when young”; Santoka , the penname he began to use when he translated Turgenev, means “mountaintop fire”

The biographical information is from the book , “Santoka: Grass and Tree Cairn” translated by Hiroaki Sato. Some of the haiku appearing at this site are taken from that book and from Mountain Tasting , Zen Haiku by Santoka Taneda translated by John Stevens.

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