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The life of Otagaki Rengetsu


search the Internet for Otagaki Rengetsu, you'll find a lot of pages describing that fact that she carves poems with her nails on her pottery.

However, there doesn't seem to be much information on what her life was like, so I'd like to touch on that here.
Before we go any further, let me introduce you to one event that made her famous.

From the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Meiji Restoration

“Edo muketsu-kaijo” (meaning, ‘the Tokugawa family bloodlessly surrendered the Edo Castle’), is said to have protected the Edo castle town from the ravages of war.

There is a tale that a poem by Rengetsu influenced the decision of Saigo Takamori, the head of the expeditionary force to the Edo Castle, at that time. Nobody knows how much of an influence her songs had on Saigo, but it is true that she delivered her poems to Saigo on his way to attack Edo castle.

“Ada mikata katsu mo makuru mo awarenari onaji mikuni no hito to omoe ba”
---Foes and friends...whether they win or lose how miserable since I feel they are people of the same land. ---