Aru tokoro no uta’awase – Shōtai 4-nen 15-ya

Shinpen kokka taikan no.
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.12
Title或所歌合
Romanised TitleAru tokoro no uta’awase
Translated TitlePoetry Contest held in a Certain Place
Alternative Title(s)
DateNight, 15/8 Shōtai 4 [30.9.901]
Extant Poems2
Sponsor
Identifiable Participants
JudgementsN
TopicsAutumn

Only the date of this contest remains, along with two of its poems. Given the season, it would clearly have been an autumn-themed event and, as the 15th day of the Eighth Month was when conventionally the moon was at its brightest, it is not surprising that it seems to have been held at night, and contained at least some poems where the moon was a theme.

Of the two surviving poems, one was included in Fubokushō (XIV: 5840), while the other is only recorded here.

いそのかみふるのやしろにはふくずもあきにしなれば色かはりけり

isonokami
Furu no yasiro ni
haFu kuzu mo
aki ni shi nareba
iro kaFarikeri
In Isonokami
At the ancient shrine of Furu
Even the creeping kudzu vine
When the autumn comes
Does change its hues.

1

Right

山のはももみぢてちりぬ月影のかくるるところなくなりぬべし

yama no Fa mo
momidite tirinu
tukikage no
kakururu tokoro
nakunarinubesi
Along the mountains’ edge
Scarlet leaves have scattered
In the moonlight
A place concealed
Is there none, at all.

2

Suzakuin ominaeshi awase

Shinpen kokka taikan no.
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.11
Title朱雀院女郎花合
Romanised TitleSuzakuin ominaeshi awase
Translated TitleMaidenflower Contest held at the Suzaku Palace
Alternative Title(s)
DateAutumn, Year unknown
Extant Poems3
SponsorEmperor Uda 宇多天皇
Identifiable ParticipantsŌshikōchi no Mitsune; Taira no Sadafun?; Mibu no Tadamine
JudgementsN
TopicsMaidenflowers (ominaeshi 女郎花)

This contest has only three extant poems, all of which are included in Kokinshū (IV: 233; IV: 234; IV: 236). It appears to have been an extremely small scale event, with only three rounds, and six poems, of which only the aforementioned three are identifiable.

The contest’s second poem is identified in its text as being by Taira no Sadafun, but in Kokinshū and elsewhere, this poem is attributed to Ōshikōchi no Mitsune, so there remains the possibility that Sadafun did not take part. This poem also occurs in the larger Teishi-in ominaeshi uta’awase (15), so a further possibility is that this contest was a senka awase where prior poems were combined in new ways, rather than a formal event.

Hagitani (1963, 111) argues that this contest should be considered as a separate one in its own right, rather than being a part or continuation of one of Uda’s other maidenflower contests, on the grounds that it is given its own separate entry in Ruijū uta’awase 類聚歌合 (‘Compendium of Poetry Contests’)[1], and thus the editors of this work obviously believed it to be a distinct event.


[1]Ruijū uta’awase 類聚歌合 (‘Compendium of Poetry Contests’) is, as its name suggests a collection of uta’awase texts. It was assembled in two parts, with the first part said to have been compiled at the command of Emperor Goreizei 後冷泉 (1025-1068; r. 1045-1068) under the supervision of Fujiwara no Yorimichi 藤原頼通 (992-1074) and Minamoto no Tsunenobu 源経信 (1016-1097) and completed at some point before 1068. The second part was compiled later, on Emperor Horikawa’s 堀河 (1079-1107; r. 1087-1107) orders, but not completed until around 1127. The extant version of this work contains the texts of about 200 poetry contests covering the period 885-1126.

Fubokushō XI: 4232

A poem from the Poetry Contest held in the first year of Shōtai by former emperor Uda.[1]

wominaFesi
woritoru goto ni
matumusi no
yado Fa karenu to
naku ga kanashiki
O, maidenflowers,
Each and every time I pick you,
The pine crickets, that
Their lodging should not fade away
Do cry, and that is sad, indeed.

Anonymous


[1]The headnote is mistaken, as this poem actually comes from another maidenflower contest held by Uda, the year of which is unknown.

Uda-in ominaeshi awase

Shinpen kokka taikan no.
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.10
Title宇多院女郎花合
Romanised TitleUda-in ominaeshi awase
Translated TitleMaidenflower Contest held by Former Emperor Uda
Alternative Title(s)
DateAutumn, Year unknown
Extant Poems14
SponsorEmperor Uda 宇多天皇
Identifiable Participants
JudgementsN
TopicsMaidenflowers (ominaeshi 女郎花)

Little is known about this contest, other than that it was clearly sponsored by Emperor Uda. One of its poems made its way into Fubokushō (XI: 4232), where it is conflated together with poems from the Teishi-in ominaeshi awase, but as that poem does not appear in that contest’s texts, it must be from a separate contest. Hagitani (1963, 107) suggests that this contest could have taken place at any time prior to Engi 延喜 13 [913] with the most likely timing being a few years after Teishi-in ominaeshi awase in Shōtai 昌泰 1 [898].

The exact extent of this contest is also unclear, but it must have had at least ten rounds, of which only seven survive.

Kanpyō no ōntoki uta’awase zassai

Shinpen kokka taikan no.
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.8
Title寛平御時歌合襍載
Romanised TitleKanpyō no ōntoki uta’awase zassai
Translated TitleMiscellaneous Poem from a Poetry Contest during the Reign of the Kanpyō Emperor
Alternative Title(s)
DateKanpyō period [889-898]
Extant Poems1
Sponsor
Identifiable Participants
JudgementsN
TopicsGeese (kari 雁)

The poem in question here is KKS IV: 210, which is recorded in that anthology as being an anonymous ‘Topic unknown’ one. Its attribution to a poetry contest is made by Minamoto no Toshiyori (Shunrai) 源俊頼 (1055-1129), in one of his judgement Naidaijin tadamichi uta’awase 内大臣忠通歌合 (‘Palace Minister Tadamichi’s Poetry Contest’; 13th day of the Ninth Month, Hōan 保安 2 [26.10.1121]) where he states the poem is from a contest held in Kanpyō 9 [897]. Hagitani (1963, 93) acknowledges this attribution may be spurious, given that it seems unlikely the compilers of Kokinshū would not have mentioned the contest, had it been well known, but suggests deferring to Toshiyori’s expertise, given that he may have had access to materials which we do not.

Ise-shū 358

My reply:

君にとし思ひかくれば鶯のはなのくしげもをしまざりけり

kimi ni to si
omoFikakureba
uguFisu no
hana no kusige mo
wosimazarikeri
For my Lady did
I fondly think, so
The warbler’s
Comb of blossom
I do not regret at all…

Ise

Ise-shū 357

When the Crown Prince Lady of the Bedchamber held a box match, and I said I would place some budding scarlet plum in my box, Her Majesty, Empress Dowager stated:

みづのえのかたみとおもへどうぐひすの花のくしげはあけてだにみず

midu no e no
katami to omoFedo
uguFisu no
Fana no kusige Fa
akete dani mizu
By the waters’ edge
A keepsake, I thought this was, yet
The warbler’s
Comb of blossom on
Opening, I see not within…

Fubokushō II: 380

君にとし思ひかくれば鶯のはなのくしげもをしまざりけり

kimi ni to si
omoFikakureba
uguFisu no
hana no kusige mo
wosimazarikeri
For my Lady did
I fondly think, so
The warbler’s
Comb box of blossom
I do not regret at all…

Ise

It is said that she composed this poem and sent it, together with some budding scarlet plum blossom to the residence of the Kujō Lady of the Bedchamber when Her Highness held a little box match.

Tōgū miyasudokoro onshi kohako awase

Shinpen kokka taikan no.
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.7
Title東宮御息所温子小箱合
Romanised TitleTōgū miyasudokoro onshi kohako awase
Translated TitleLittle Box Match held by Yoshiko, Crown Prince Lady of the Bedchamber
Alternative Title(s)
DateSpring, Kanpyō 9 [897]
Extant Poems2
SponsorFujiwara no Yoshiko (Onshi) 藤原温子 (872-907)
Identifiable ParticipantsFujiwara no Yoshiko (Onshi) 藤原温子; Ise 伊勢
JudgementsN
TopicsComb boxes (kushige 櫛笥)

There are no independent records of this contest, and our knowledge of it comes solely from the headnotes to two poems, one by Ise and one by the Shichijō Lady of the Bedchamber (shichijō miyasudokoro 七条御息所) which occur in three separate collections: Kokin rokujō 古今六帖, Fuboku wakashō 夫木和歌抄[1], and Ise-shū 伊勢集. These headnotes are not entirely in agreement, meaning that there is some doubt about the order in which the poems should be presented. In addition, as the Lady of the Bedchamber holding the contest is not referred to by name, there are a number of viable candidates. Hagitani (1963, 88-90) argues that Onshi (Yoshiko) is the most likely, given the content of the poems and the wider context, suggesting that Ise would have been unable to participate in the contest in person at this time as she would have just given birth to Uda’s son, Imperial Prince Yukinaka 行中親王 (897-909), and hence would have had to send her contribution to it.

Despite the dearth of materials, this contest is significant because it is the only surviving evidence that box matches were held as court entertainments. It is thus a further form of mono awase 物合, where objects were compared, and the poems served as an accompaniment to them, rather than the main focus of the event.

Hagitani (1963, 90) further suggests that another feature of the exchange between Yoshiko and Ise here, is that is is a rare moment where we see jealousy expressed, with Yoshiko resentful of the affection that Ise has been bestowed by Uda.

See the contest poems in Fubokushō.

See the contest poems in Ise-shū.


[1]Fuboku wakashō 夫木和歌抄 (‘The Sacred Tree Selection of Japanese Poetry’)(also known as Fubokushō, Fuboku wakashū 夫木和歌集, and Fubokushū 夫木集) is a personal poetry anthology compiled by Katsumata no Nagakiyo (dates unknown) in the late Kamakura period (around 1310). It contains over 17,000 post-Man’yō poems which were not selected for inclusion in imperial anthologies, by about 970 named poets.