Shinkichi Takahashi is one of Japans great recognised poets..

He was born in a fishing village on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands. He was self educated and left his village to search a literary career in Tokyo. His early days in Tokyo were difficult and he was forced to return to his village penniless. Then one day, fired up by an article on Dadaism he returned to Tokyo to work as a waiter and as a "pantry boy"in a newspaper office. In 1923 he brought out Dadist Shinkichi's Poetry, The first copy was handed to him through the bars of a police cell, he was often in trouble for impulsive actions at this time in his life. By 1928 he knew he was in dire need of guidance and he sought the advice of a Zen Master. Takahashu became a disciple of Shizan Ashikaga, a master known for his strong discipline. He spent 17 years in rigorous training and completed the full course of discipline.

Takahashi visited Korea and China in 1939 and was deeply impressed by the Zenists he met there. He lived from his writing and in 1944 he began to work for a Tokyo newspaper, he left when the office was bombed in 1945. Takahashi married in 1951 and lived with his wife and two daughters in great serenity, a life he had hardly imagined in earlier years.. His translated work bagan to appear in the United States and England in 1970..
A reviewer in the Hudson Review observed that while other poets, East and west, would appear to descend from time to time into the natural world, Takahashi would emerge from it like a seal from the depths of the sea, his constant element. But it wasn't sea or nature the poet lived in, it was Zen.

Like all awakened Zenists he found no separation between art and life, knowing the achievement of no-mind led not to right art but to right living. The world, he claimed, is always pure, we with our dripping mind-stuff, foul it. The poet died in June 1987. Shinkichi was a remarkable poet; he found early in life what his life most needed, lived it, and wrote it as no other could.


Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter. Translated and Edited by Lucien Stryk & Tahahasi Ikemoto. Grove Press New York 1997