Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Yuasa)” as Want to Read:
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Yuasa)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Yuasa)

by
4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,941 ratings  ·  293 reviews
In later life Basho turned to Zen Buddhism, and the travel sketched in this volume relfect his attempts to cast off earthly attachments and reach out to spiritual fulfillment. The sketches are written in the "haibun" style--a linking of verse and prose. The title piece, in particular, reveals Basho striving to discover a vision of eternity in the transient world around him ...more
Paperback, 167 pages
Published 1966 by Penguin Classics (first published 1702)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,941 ratings  ·  293 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Jan-Maat
Nov 13, 2011 added it
Recommends it for: Travellers with weary feet and a raincoat in their backpacks
A long time ago I read a book review in the newspaper. It was about a travel book in which the author retraced the footsteps of Matsuo Basho's journey through seventeenth century Japan told in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Naturally I never did get my hands on the modern book but at my local library there was the penguin translation of Basho's book.

no sooner had the spring mist begun to rise over the field than I wanted to be on the road again to cross the barrier-gate of Shirakawa in due
...more
Edward
Acknowledgements
Introduction, by Nobuyuki Yuasa


--The Records of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton
--A Visit to the Kashima Shrine
--The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel
--A Visit to Sarashina Village
--The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Maps
Notes
Smiley (aka. umberto)
3.50 stars

Having found his name and read some famous pieces of his haiku in some old Japanese literary works, I finally came across this 5-story paperback late last month and delightfully had it to read. The Narrow Road to the Deep North is no. 5; Other Travel Sketches include no. 1 The Records of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton, no. 2 A Visit to the Kashima Shrine, no. 3 The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel, and no. 4 A Visit to Sarashina Village. According to Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia 1 A-
...more
Akemi G.
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review is more of a note about this specific translation so that people know what it is.

The Narrow Road to The Deep North and Other Travel Sketches, from Penguin Classics, translated into English by Nobuyuki Yuasa, 1966.
* TOC
* Introduction (pretty good explanation of how haiku stemmed out from waka)
* The Records Of A Weather-Exposed Skeleton (野ざらし紀行: nozarashi kikou) 1684-85
* A Visit To The Kashima Shrine (鹿島紀行: Kashima kikou) 1687
* The Records Of A Travel-Worn Satchel (笈の小文: oi no kobumi)
...more
Justin Evans
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
I want to be very clear about one thing: who the heck am I to be giving Basho two stars? I am nobody, and I am not giving Basho two stars, I am giving this book two stars. The Japanese literary tradition is so deep and aesthetically interesting, and I have no doubt whatsoever that, *in Japanese*, these travel narratives are well worth reading.

But I, filthy occidental, do not know Japanese, and I am reduced to reading sentences such as this, chosen entirely at random: "Dragging my sore heels, I
...more
Ken
One doesn't think of Matsuo Basho as a travel writer, but travel write he did! This edition includes "The Records of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton," "A Visit to the Kashima Shrine," "The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel," "A Visit to Sarashina Village," and "The Narrow Road to the Deep North."

All that said, it was the last piece, around 40 pages, that made the book. The others did not quite hit their stride, telling me that the distinguished poet DID hit his stride as a travel writer with practice.
...more
Thelaurakremer
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've finished Ben's book
Of cherry trees and temples
A man's long travel.

Written in sweet words
Like a lonely, sad Bob Ross
Bashō did wander.
Eddie Watkins
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This collection presents the development, and perfection, of Basho’s uniquely hybrid literary works – part memoir-like travelogue, part poetry – which ideally convey his experiences by offering trudges (prose) toward brief crystallized moments of sensory apotheoses (haiku). Basho’s art was wedded to his self-styled Zen practice, which to my mind was more an excuse to pass as a mendicant priest or monk while pursuing his own aesthetic which was a conjunction of the impersonality of Zen and a refi ...more
Andrew
It's hard for me, gaijin piece of shit that I am, to fully appreciate the aesthetics of classical Japan. I've tried. I tried listening to some koto music in the bamboo forest of Arashiyama in Kyoto, and I just felt corny.

With Basho, I know I'm only getting half of it. I don't have the education in the Tale of the Heike and the Tale of Genji and what not. I don't understand the complexities of shogunate politics. But I do know the sense of melancholy that affects the lone traveler, and the sense
...more
Eva
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Of all the books we read in Religion class all term, Basho was my favorite. His simple, poetic descriptions of the Japanese countryside and that poignant sense of loneliness and connection to history and nature all spoke to me vividly. In particular, his emphasis on wabi-sabi, poverty and loneliness, as seen in a lone tree on the hillside or a lone house in a deserted field or drinking water from a simple chipped pitcher, evoked something in me that I'd been able to quite articulate. The way he ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Basho takes to the road, and, along the way, writes little haiku.

It wasn't always pleasant:

How far must I walk
To the village of Kasajima
This endlessly muddy road
Of the early wet season?

And:

Bitten by fleas and lice,
I slept in a bed,
A horse urinating all the time
Close to my pillow.

But there are also lovely tributes to nature:

It was with awe
That I beheld
Fresh leaves, green leaves,
Bright in the sun.

And:

In the utter silence
Of a temple,
A cicada's voice alone
Penetrates the rocks.

It's a fascinating wal
...more
Scott
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, nature, walks, poems
Moved by the desire to see the moon rising over a famous shrine, or simply to test the strength of his “slender legs,” Matsuo Basho (1644—94) made five major treks through Japan during the last decade of his short life. He wrote about each of his trips in brief travel journals that he illustrated with haiku, a form of poetry he nearly perfected. Filled with humble, memorable images of things seen on the road, these haiku journals have become classics of Japanese literature, treasured by many for ...more
Jessica
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I heartily recommend reading the translator's insightful introduction to this collection of Basho's haibun; the traditional form of Japanese travel journal interspersed with impromptu poems. I don't think I can sum up any better why The Narrow Road to the Deep North holds such a beloved place among the masterworks of Japanese literature, so I won't try. It is a deep, rich, and subtle travelogue, placing his prose and verse in the context of a lifetime of increasingly agonizing self-scrutiny of B ...more
Tim
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I first became aware of this from some puttering around on the internet, and from an article (years ago) in the Scottish publication Rebel Magazine, which wrote a brief, admiring account of Basho's life and work. Basho is credited with inventing or perfecting the haiku, althou similar styles had existed for some time. Like other forms of minimalist art, I find it difficult to really enjoy, despite its roots in Buddhist philosophy. Complexity, richness, and life in its passions and contradictions ...more
Al Bità
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some 400 years ago the great Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō went on a series of journeys through Japan. These journeys were captured by the poet in travel sketches, written in the haibun style, in which poetry and prose are combined. This Penguin Classic presents us with five travel sketches, culminating in the longest and perhaps most famous “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”. We are prepared for this by an excellent Introduction by Nobuyuki Yuasa, who also translated the five sketches. As well as ...more
Gregory
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Towards the end of his life and in relatively ill health, Matsuo Basho repeatedly left the comfort of his home and followers to embark on grueling foot journeys throughout Japan. This 'book' is really a travel journal peppered with gorgeous haiku that apparently do not suffer much from being translated from a language and culture that are radically different. Of course, the nature of translation and hermeneutics is very slippery. Even though I may experience a sublime feeling upon reading one of ...more
Laura
An interesting mix of Bashō’s travelogue, written as he wandered through Japan, with that of his poetry, as well as the poetry of others that traveled with him on occasion. This started out slow for me, and because of an incident that happened early on I very nearly put it down altogether. However, the lure of Bashō’s travels drew me back and the beauty of the writing kept getting better with each journey, with The Road to the Deep North being my favorite of those journaled.

Some of my favorite p
...more
Patrick McCoy
Matsuo Basho has long been admired as the wandering poet and master of "haiku," the 5-7-5 syllable poetry style renowned among grade schoolers everywhere. The Narrow Road To The Deep North And Other Travel Sketches (1689) is a collection of poetry and other musings by Basho, who seems to have used his travels as inspiration for his poetry about life on the road as well as the beauty he encounters on his travels. This collection is comprised of the following pieces: "The Records of a Weather-Expo ...more
Sean
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, poetry, 2016

Bashō's final travel journal describes his pilgrimage to various Buddhist temples and historical sites throughout mountainous north Japan. Not surprising for a haiku master, Bashō's prose is lean yet rich in imagery, punctuated throughout by haiku composed on the road. Though written in an accessible manner, the copious allusions that would have been obvious to 17th Century Japanese readers sent me on frequent forays to the notes section in the back of the book. Interrupted reading aside, this w
...more
Kathleen
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"In this mortal frame of mine which is made of a hundred bones and nine orifices there is something, and this something is called a wind-swept spirit for lack of a better name, for it is much like a thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind. This something in me took to writing poetry years ago, merely to amuse itself at first, but finally making it its lifelong business. It must be admitted, however, that there were times when it sank into such dejection that it ...more
Matt
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it

Absolutely beautiful, vivid, simple, elegant and still.

For a word-over-doer like myself reading this is an excellent tonic. He packs so much into such a small form that it really begins to unravel once you actually spend time digging into it.

You'll come away amazed.....
Sarah
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This slender volume
Reflects nature's solitude,
Spare beauty, and depth.

Written on the road,
It brims with poignant snap-shots,
Of seasons long past.
Sally ☾
I wish I could say this book made me realize the subtle beauty and power that is poetry, but alas, it did not.

I still don’t get poetry and it is honestly more of a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. In a lot of ways I am but an ignorant human who does not know Japanese and is most likely missing references and thus missing the point of this novel.

Oh well. You win some, you lose some. The book was quite thoughtful and beautiful. If anything, it made me love and appreciate nature more and more.
Rhys
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have wanted to read this book for many years. I tried when I was 16 years old but I didn't get very far. I was insufficiently knowledgeable about the context in which Basho's travels took place and the book seemed beyond my assimilation. I tried again this year and succeeded. I wish I could give it an even higher rating because I am sure it is a masterpiece of literature. My problem is that I sometimes found my mind wandering while reading it, probably because I couldn't visualize clearly the ...more
Brian
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009, asian
Matsuo Basho was a poet. He traveled throughout Japan. He wrote poems about it... and short essays. Prose and poetry mix. It is a beautiful thing when the two meet seamlessly.


...it was a great pleasure to see the marvelous beauties of nature, rare scenes in the mountains or along the coast, or to visit the sites of temporary abodes of ancient sages where they had spent secluded lives, or better still, to meet people who had entirely devoted themselves to the search for artistic truth. Since I ha
...more
Bonny
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it

My kind of book. As fresh and relevant today, as when written. Basho pointedly travels to record his experience in detail. He illuminates, to me anyway, how much we are all travelers and observers in this life, with ability to capture a moment with an art of our choice, or not.

His beautiful words:

...it was a great pleasure to see the marvelous beauties of nature, rare scenes in the mountains or along the coast, or to visit the sites of temporary abodes of ancient sages where they had spent secl
...more
G.G.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Bashō's view of life is essentially tragic, and his sense of both melancholy and wonder increases through the five travel sketches included in this slim volume. Probably there are better translations than these, first published in 1966, and surely better annotated editions too. Still, it suited my purposes to read this portable version. Next up: an account by one of Bashō's many emulators: Shokyu-ni's "Record of an Autumn Wind," translated by Hiroaki Sato and published in Monumenta Nipponica 55. ...more
Robert Hobkirk
If Hollywood makes this into a movie, the quiet poet, Basho, will be a martial arts master kicking ass and taking names.

I enjoyed his prose writing style about his journeys. It was interesting that he didn't have much to say about the people he met along the way. He was more interested in the shrines and historical sites. I thought his poems were so-so and a little bit of a let down from all the hype that he was the "greatest poet." Maybe the greatest promoted.

Find the poem of the day, my friend
...more
Jimmy
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), the most famous Haiku poet of Japan, recorded his many travels around Japan in his journals. Translated by Cid Corman, this journal details the most arduous part of a nine-month journey he took with his friend and disciple Sora through the backlands north of the capital, west to the Japan Sea, and back toward Kyoto. The story itself is not quite as interesting as I had hoped, but along with the detailed notes provided, the text becomes far more enriched. And well worth ...more
 The Black Geek
I had the opportunity to read this text while living and working in Japan. It is rare that a translated text can embody so much beauty and spirit of the original poems, but Donald Keene seamlessly accomplishes this within Basho's classic work. Masayuki's kiri-e images bring an additional depth to the text (almost like a modern day haiga). It is indeed a perfect marriage between words and visual representation.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: classic Chinese poetry [s] 3 27 Mar 20, 2013 11:39AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Author name misspelt 3 155 Jul 30, 2012 02:54AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa
  • 100 Poems from the Japanese
  • The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan
  • One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan
  • Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World
  • The Tales of Ise
  • As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams: Recollections of a Woman in Eleventh-Century Japan
  • Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenkō
  • Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century
  • The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse
  • The Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters
  • The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku
  • Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku
  • Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death
  • Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master
  • 1000 Poems from the Manyōshū
  • Li Po and Tu Fu: Poems
  • The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology
See similar books…
323 followers
MATSUO Bashō (松尾 芭蕉) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was renowned for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku.
“When a country is defeated, there remain only mountains and rivers, and on a ruined castle in spring only grasses thrive. I sat down on my hat and wept bitterly till I almost forgot time.

A thicket of summer grass
Is all that remains
Of the dreams and ambitions
Of ancient warriors.”
12 likes
“In this mortal frame of mine which is made of a hundred bones and nine orifices there is something, and this something is called a wind-swept spirit for lack of a better name, for it is much like a thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind. This something in me took to writing poetry years ago, merely to amuse itself at first, but finally making it its lifelong business. It must be admitted, however, that there were times when it sank into such dejection that it was almost ready to drop its pursuit, or again times when it was so puffed up with pride that it exulted in vain victories over the others. Indeed, ever since it began to write poetry, it has never found peace with itself, always wavering between doubts of one kind and another. At one time it wanted to gain security by entering the service of a court, and at another it wished to measure the depth of its ignorance by trying to be a scholar, but it was prevented from either because of its unquenchable love of poetry. The fact is, it knows no other art than the art of writing poetry, and therefore, it hangs on to it more or less blindly.” 8 likes
More quotes…