Kobayashi Nobuyki (Issa) was born in Kashiwabara, Shinano province, to a farming family and began writing in his childhood, which was marred by misfortune and sadness, his mother died and his father remarried resulting in torment at the hands of his step mother and step brother.

In 1777 he was despatched to Tokyo to study the Haiku form under such masters as Sogan and Chikua. He was forced to support himself by taking menial jobs before gaining entry into the Kasushika poetry school. At the age of 28 he was to be given a teaching post at the school but lasted just a year after it became clear that his modern style of haiku did not suit the clerical confines that were expected of him.

For the next two years Kabayashi wandered the provinces of Japan where he found a patron in the form of Seibi Natsume, during this period he took the pen name (Issa). upon his return to Tokyo he was to publish his first collection Tabishui 1795 Issa was to visit most of the prominent Japanese cities of the day over the next few years, publishing the following collections to recount his travels.

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