Winter seclusion (fuyugomori)


Winter seclusion (fuyogomori)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: All Winter
***** Category: Humanity


fuyugomori 冬篭り winter confinement, winter isolation, wintering
fuyukomori, fuyu komori
hibernation; staying indoors during winter


In rural Japan, especially in the Northern areas along the coast of the Sea of Japan, the winter is long and brings enormous amounts of snow. There was nothing much to do that sit back and wait it out. The farmhouses where difficult to heat and the family huddled around the hearth (irori) in the kitchen. It was a tough time to live through with great endurance.

Animals like bears sleep through the whole cold season, also called fuyugomori.

Gabi Greve

Worldwide use

North America
Adjective, kept in by snow: prevented from moving or leaving a place by heavy snow.
Which can lead to feelings of depression called... cabin fever, winter blues, winter blahs, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) .
Michael Baribeau

Things found on the way

sashikomoru さしこもる【鎖し籠もる】
To keep the doors and windows shut and stay indoors.
tojikomoru 閉じこもる 閉じ籠もる】
rookyo suru 籠居(ろうきょ)する

It could be done in any season, but in winter the home was kept closed to keep out the cold.

- fuyugomori 冬篭り winter confinement, winter isolation, wintering -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


sashikomoru mugura no tomo kabuna uri

Staying indoors, the only friend
At the house of the bedstraw is
The vendor of winter greens!

Tr. Oseko Toshiharu

Discussion of various translations
. . mugura 葎 (むぐら) cleavers     

staying indoors
the only friend of bedstraw
a vendor of greens

trans. Reichhold

Reichhold's comment:
1688--winter. Bedstraw, also called goosegrass ('Galium spium'), was used to stuff mattresses for the poor. In winter, Basho has two reliable friends to keep him well, and both were green plants.

* * * *

Is Reichhold suggesting that Basho's futon is stuffed with bedstraw?
And that Basho is using "bedstraw" as a figure of speech to mean himself?

Ah, if only Basho had used 'fuyugomori' (winter seclusion) instead of 'sashikomoru' (staying indoors), it would make the translation somewhat easier, in my opinion. "Staying indoors" begs the question of who is staying indoors. Barnhill cleverly works around this by saying it's the creepers that are "secluded away." I think we are to take it to mean that Basho is identifying himself with the creepers.

And I would use "peddler" rather than "vendor," since vendors can have stalls, and don't necessarily sell their wares going door-to-door.
. . Discussion by Larry Bole

. . .

From the haiku of Basho we can see him at age 45, buy some greens and prepare his meager meal all by himself. The peddler was the only person he had seen and talked to in quite a while. His home, overgrown with mugura cleaver weeds, had just this one friend who came by once in a while.
元禄元年 四十五歳(雪まろげ)yuki maroge

. . .

Basho used "sashikomoru" again in a three-link sequence he wrote with Kyoriku and Ranran in 1692:

kangiku no tonari mo ari ya ike daikon

Right there! Near
the winter chrysanthemums--
a buried radish.

fuyu sashikomoru hokusoo no susu

Kept in during the winter--
soot on my northern window.

tsuki mo naki yoi kara uma o tsurete kite

There's no moon--
last night, I came here
driving a horse.

trans. Pei Pei Qiu
Basho and the Dao, University of Hawai'i Press, 2005

- fuyugomori 冬篭り winter confinement
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


. to open the north window, kita-mado hiraku 北窓開く
kigo for mid-spring

Especially in Northern Japan, where winter is long and brings much snow, the northern windows are coverd with strong wooden planks during winter time.


The people during the Edo period, especially the poor, did not use bed covers as we have them nowadays. They only had a stuffed matress shikubuton 敷き布団 or some kind of woven mats to lie down on. Sometimes the bare planks of wooden floor would have to do, maybe covered with some straw.
And they wore warm night clothes (yogi) to keep the cold out.
Poor people, especially in the colder northern regions, slept near the fire and used anything to keep them warm, even dried seaweed was put into quilts (documented from Akita in 1789, for example). Hemp and straw and hulls were also used for quilts.
Poor people even slept in straw bags, one couple in one bag.
A poor family used to sleep close toghether to use the body heat for warmth.

Since kana mugura カナムグラ(鉄葎) Humulus japonicus is of the hemp family, it might well have been used for stuffing a quilt of the poor.

. Bedtime quilt (yogi) as KIGO  

The shikibuton in the towns ranged from lavish ones to poor ones, called like a thin rice cracker
senbei futon 煎餅布団 "rice cracker matress" and had only little cotton stuffing.
In Edo, futon usually ment the matress, whereas in Osaka (Kamigata)they began to use kakebuton quilted blanket covers a lot earlier.

Nowadays, the stuffed mattress (shikibuton) and the blanket (kakebuton) are together called a "futon".

Reference : History of Futon


( しばし隠れゐける人に申し遣はす )松尾芭蕉
source : a-yarn.tea-nifty.com

mazu iwae ume o kokoro no fuyu-gomori

Anyway celebrate I will
This winter hibernation
With apricot blossoms in my heart.

Tr. Takafumi Saito

Written in 貞亨4年, Basho age 44
Matsuo Basho for his disciple Tsuboi Tokoku 坪井杜国, Nagoya.
Tokoku had been put in exile for a crime he did not even commit. So if he would stay in hiding maybe next spring things will turn out better.

. - Tsuboi Tokoku 坪井杜国 - .


. byoobu ni wa yama o egaite fuyu-gomori .
(winter) winter seclusion. folding screen. a painted mountain

fuyu-gomori / mata yorisowan / kono hashira

. kinbyoo no matsu no furusa yo fuyugomori .
(winter) winter seclusion. golden folding screen. old pine

ori ori ni / Ibuki o mite wa / fuyu-gomori
Mount Ibukiyama

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

冬枯れや 世は一色に 風の音
fuyugare ya yo wa isshoku ni kaze no oto

Winter solitude —
In a world of one color
the sound of wind.

Basho, Tr. Robert Hass

With comment y Robert Hass:
source : www.ashokkarra.com

The Japanese is not "winter solitude" but "withering in winter" of plants.
. fuyugare 冬枯れ Winter withering .


Some Winter Seclusion Haiku by Issa

asana-asana yaki daiko kana fuyugomori

morning after morning
damn roasted radishes!
winter seclusion

fuyugomori tori ryoori ni mo nebutsu kana

winter seclusion--
cooking a chicken
praising Buddha

oya mo ko mirareshi yama ya fuyugomori

my father saw
this same damn mountain...
winter seclusion

haya-baya to taga fuyugomoru hoso keburi

early winter seclusion--
whose thin smoke
over there?

naka-naka ni ume mo hodashi ya fuyugomori

the plum tree too
is soon snowed in...
winter seclusion

haiga by - Nakamura Sakuo -

my sinful dog
at my side...
winter seclusion


There are 30 haiku by Issa on this subject.
http://cat.xula.edu/issa/ Tr. David Lanoue

** ** **

o-mukai no kane no naru nari fuyugomori

the welcome bell
tolls at the temple...
winter seclusion
(First version)

the death bell
tolls at the temple...
winter seclusion
(Second version)

Shinji Ogawa notes that the phrase o-mukae no kane (Issa's variant: mukai no kane) means "welcome-bell" in the sense of welcoming the faithful to the next world, Amida Buddha's Pure Land. I first translated it, "the welcome bell," but Gabi Greve feels that this loses the sense of "someone waiting for his death." She suggests: "funeral bells/ starting to toll" or "coming to get me/ the bell is tolling." I have decided to go with "death bell," and to include the word "temple" (not in Issa's original text but certainly implied).

the plum tree too
is soon snowed in . . .
winter seclusion

Fritz Capelari (1884-1950)


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

nashi kaki wa karasu-makase yo fuyu-gomori

crows, you take
the pears and persimmons --
winter confinement time

Tr. Chris Drake

This humorous poem was written early in the 10th month (November) in 1813, when Issa was back in his hometown after getting his inheritance earlier in the year. Now the first snow has fallen, winter has come, and people in the village are saying goodbye to fall and its delicious fruit. The remaining fruit isn't very plentiful or delicious, but it's fresher than the dried or pickled fruit and vegetables the villagers will be eating from now on as they go indoors to survive the long, hard season of snow -- so go ahead, crows, take everything that's left. It's going to be a tough season for both humans and crows.

In waka and renga, "staying inside/going into seclusion in winter" was an elegant way of referring to plants in winter and occasionally to hibernation. In haikai, however, it also refers to humans, especially those who live in snowy or very cold areas. In the area in which Issa's hometown was located, it had a fairly specific meaning. People used bamboo, straw, and other materials to make roofed and walled entryways extending out from their doors to make sure they could get into and out of their houses during snowstorms. They also put bamboo or straw blinds over many windows in their houses, sheds, and barns that let in air but shut out most snow. Over bushes and plants they placed little straw tepees, and straw mats were wrapped around the trunks of trees.

People also put in place special large panels that extended out from the sides of the house that were open to the outside when sliding doors were opened: the panels extended out at an angle from the eaves and allowed snow on the roof to slide down to the ground several feet beyond the porches under the eaves, thus creating space and increasing ventilation for the people inside. Fresh air was always a consideration, since heat came from wood stoves and charcoal and created a lot of smoke and fumes, which exited through a hole in the roof. Human-produced methane was another important factor (see the translation for 1/18/2013). Sometimes it was also necessary to ventilate pent-up human frustrations during the long, boring indoor winter months lived in cramped spaces, as in this 1823 hokku:

hito soshiru kai ga tatsunari fuyu-gomori

another party held
to badmouth other people --
winter confinement

Since not much was going on, criticizing other people was a popular way of feeling good. "Winter confinement" or staying inside was often a rather dark, boring, and hemmed-in existence, so Issa seems to half-envy the crows in the first hokku.

Issa's own notion of staying inside during winter was a very flexible and dynamic one that took some of its inspiration from the crows. On 10/12, a few days after he wrote the first haiku above, he was in the town of Naganuma to take part in a requiem service for the soul of Basho at the Basho Hermitage there, and on 10/19 he went to a hot springs spa in Yudanaka for three weeks to write and discuss haikai with the owner and his son. Issa's diary also shows that he often traveled through winter snow to other villages and towns to visit his students. Hitting the snowy road and staying at the houses of many different haikai poets was an effective way of avoiding the winter confinement blues.

Chris Drake


maki o waru imooto hitori fuyugomori

splitting wood
my sister alone -

Masaoka Shiki


winter seclusion
yet another trade bead
slides into place



> > winter isolation --
> > only the death visits
> > remote villages

The actual situation in Afganistan where 1000 children died because of the coldness!!! February 2005


winter enclosure --
songs till the morning
in a refuge hut


winter separation --
snowmobile visits
the sick people

(that is in Gorski Kotar in Croatia)

Tomislav Maretic

Related words

Things to keep you warm in winter, a KIGO list

***** snowbound, snowed in, cabin fever,
winter blues, winter blahs, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

kigo for winter


from the doorway
smelling the cold

Michael Baribeau

WKD : Medical Kigo





Gabi Greve said...


no nashi wa tsumi mo mata nashi fuyugomori

no good deeds
but also no sins…
winter seclusion


Look at a beautiful haiga by Sakuo Nakamura here:

. Winter Seclusion .

Unknown said...

Woh ! There are many seclusion haiku indeed.
I have grown up at warm seaside.
I didn't see snow in my native town.
It is hard for me to have real feeling of living in snow.


Gabi Greve said...

kuchishi mune/kujaku to shite/fuyu-gomori

my rotten chest...
all empty and forlorn,
winter hibernation

Sojo Hino (1901-1956)
Translated and commented by Susumu Takiguchi  


Gabi Greve said...


Medical Kigo, SAD, the FLU and others


Gabi Greve said...


winter loneliness-
the sofa she vacates
holds her shape

Kala Ramesh, India


Gabi Greve / Byobu said...

kinbyoo no matsu no furusa yo fuyugomori

on the golden folding screen
the pine looks so old -
winter seclusion

Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉, age 50

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho -







Basho Saijiki

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

冬ごもり心の奥のよしの 山
fuyugomori kokoro no oku no yoshino yama

winter seclusion -
deep in my heart there is still
mount Yoshino


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

details about
zashiki 座敷 guest room, drawing room, sitting room

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