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Teishin (1798-1873) was a Japanese Zen Buddhist nun and poetess. She was the pupil and closest friend of the Zen poet Ryokan. She was born in the town of Nagaoka, located on the northwestern coast of Japan. It is not known at what age she took up her vows, but she was a nun when she met Ryokan for the first time in 1827. Teishin was travelling through the town of Shimazaki begging for food, and heard that Ryokan was staying in a small hut nearby. The two met briefly, and for the next 5 years they remained very close. Upon their first meeting, Teishin wrote:

Having met you thus
For the first time in my life,
I still cannot help
Thinking it but a sweet dream
Lasting yet in my dark heart

The letters they exchanged are full of beautiful examples of romantic poetry, most of it in haiku, but a few are prose. Ryokan was very forgetful, and would grow angry at Teishin when he thought she was away too long. Eventually, Teishin moved into a thatch hut close to Ryokan's hut to nurse him in his later years. Many nights they would drink sake and riddle each other with improv poetry. She spoke of these nights:

Here with you
I could remain
For countless days and years
Silent as the bright moon
We watched together

Although the two of them were deeply in love, it was emotional and nothing more. In 1830 Ryokan fell ill and Teishin stayed by his side until his death on January 6, 1831. After his death, she gathered Ryokan's work into a volume called "Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf", which is still considered to be the definitive work of his poetry. Teishin continued to write poetry until her death at age 75. Her last poem reads:

Distant waves
seem to come
seem to go
So I have lived my life
leaving everything to the blowing wind

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