In making this sculpture, what required most consideration was how Bashō appeared during his life. There are a number of paintings that are thought to have been made while Bashō was alive. To make a sculpture of a man who lived through his travels, I decided a standing pose was more appropriate than a sitting pose, so I began the project using Morikawa Kyoriku’s Bashō angya zu (Bashō’s Pilgrimage; in the collection of Tenri Central Library) as a guide.
Bashō has also been portrayed in contemporary theater, by Nakamura Ganjirō II in Hōjō Hideji’s Oku no hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North), and by Bandō Mitsugorō X in Inoue Hisashi’s Bashō tsuya-bune (Bashō’s Wake Boat). Rather than Bandō’s look of handsome decency, Nakamura gave me an impression of thoughtfulness and he aided me more in envisioning Bashō.
As I am still young, facing such a great artist and carving his image meant that the blade felt very heavy in my hands. I learned a great deal through making the statue of Bashō, but it seems that a great deal of time will be required before I can sculpt with the sense of karumi (lightness) that the poet advocated.