Photo/Illutration The scroll of Matsuo Basho’s travelogue "Nozarashi Kiko” that was purchased by the Fukuda Art Museum in Kyoto (Provided by Fukuda Art Museum)

KYOTO--Fukuda Art Museum in Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward announced on May 24 that it had purchased the long-missing illustrated scroll of a travelogue by the poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) from an art dealer in Osaka city.

"Nozarashi Kiko” (Journal of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton) is Basho’s first travelogue describing his travels from Edo (present-day Tokyo) to his hometown of Iga in present-day Mie Prefecture and the Kinki region between 1684 to 1685.

All text and haiku in the scroll were handwritten by Basho himself. He also illustrated it.

Shinichi Fujita, professor emeritus of Japanese literature at Kansai University, says, “I was stunned to know that the scroll exists."

Two scrolls of "Nozarashi Kiko" remain in existence, but it was not known for a long time who owned this one, which was purchased by the museum, although there were photos of it.

Of the two scrolls, only this one has illustrations. The museum will exhibit the scroll from October.

Basho authored "Oku no Hosomichi" (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) on his travels in Oshu (part of the present-day Tohoku region), five years after writing "Nozarashi Kiko." Therefore, "Nozarashi Kiko" was a precursor of “Oku no Hosomichi” and established Basho as a travel poet, Fujita says. 

The scroll measures almost 23 centimeters in width and around 14.5 meters in height.

The travelogue starts with a haiku “Nozarashi wo Kokoro ni Kaze no Shimu Mi Kana,” which means, “I’ve accepted that I could fall and be a skeleton during this journey, but the wind already penetrates my heart at the start of the trip.”

The travelogue contains the haiku that Basho wrote during his eight-month journey visiting locations such as Nara, Iga, and Kuwana. It also contains 21 of his illustrations.

According to the Fukuda Art Museum, the scroll has changed hands in recent years. It said it cannot find any record of the scroll being exhibited at a museum in the past 40 years.