In April 1926, the Japanese poet Taneda Santoka (1882–1940) set off on the first of many walking trips, journeys in which he tramped thousands of miles through the Japanese countryside. These journeys were part of his religious training as a Buddhist monk as well as literary inspiration for his memorable and often painfully moving poems. The works he wrote during this time comprise a record of his quest for spiritual enlightenment.
Although Santoka was master of conventional-style haiku, which he wrote in his youth, the vast majority of his works, and those for which he is most admired, are in free-verse form. He also left a number of diaries in which he frequently recorded the circumstances that had led to the composition of a particular poem or group of poems. In For All My Walking, master translator Burton Watson makes Santoka's life story and literary journeys available to English-speaking readers and students of haiku and Zen Buddhism. He allows us to meet Santoka directly, not by withholding his own opinions but by leaving room for us to form our own. Watson's translations bring across not only the poetry but also the emotional force at the core of the poems.
This volume includes 245 of Santoka's poems and of excerpts from his prose diary, along with a chronology of his life and a compelling introduction that provides historical and biographical context to Taneda Santoka's work.