In the history of Japanese poetry the name Matsuo Bashō 1644 – 1694 has always been connected with the poetic genre of haiku – nowadays the most famous and renowned Japanese poetic form – which contains only 17 syllables grouped into three verses 5-7-5 . Having in mind that Bashō’s value in the history of Japanese literature has been stressed by numerous authors and that his poems are considered to be some of the finest in the haiku genre, this paper is an attempt to approach the investigation of their value in a slightly different manner. We have decided to analyse his late period poetry by means of the Chinese theories of the five elements and Yin and Yang, taking into consideration the philosophical influence of Taoism and Zen Buddhism. The Chinese theory of the five elements wood, fire, earth, metal, and water has been chosen because they are considered in China and Japan to be the key elements that underlie all natural and social phenomena. Therefore we have tried to highlight their harmonious relations in the poems analysed. Having analysed the chosen poems from Bashō’s late period by using the Yin-Yang and the five elements theories we have concluded that they are harmoniously interrelated, bringing naturalness and universality, and therefore a high literary value, to his poetry. Thus we have shown that his poetry expresses, whether consciously or unconsciously, his philosophical tendencies rooted in the five elements and Yin and Yang theories.
Matsuo Bashō, haiku, Chinese theory of the five elements, Taoism, Zen Buddhism.