All posts by temca

MYS III: 250

(Seven of) Eight poems composed by Hitomaro, Lord Kakinomoto, when travelling.

玉藻刈る敏馬を過ぎて夏草の野島が崎に船近づきぬ

tamamo karu
minume wo sugite
natu kusa nö
nosima ga saki ni
pune tikadukinu
Reaping gemweed,
Minume I went beyond, and
To the summer grasses of
Nojima Point
My boat drew near.

Said in a certain volume to be ‘when I lodged at Nojima Point after leaving a maiden’.

Cremation

At the time Hitomaro was writing, cremation was still a rarity in Japan, the nobility much preferring burial in a tumulus, or mound. Cremation was a Buddhist custom and so it is likely the maiden was a follower of that religion.

Algae

Rather than the generic ‘algae’ the poem refers specifically to miru, or ‘thick-haired codium’ as it is in English, which grows in deep pools along rocky coasts. The individual filaments, which can be as long as 30 centimetres, often grow together to form a velvety mat.