Category Archives: Uta makura


One of the most famous uta makura in Japan, Matsushima Bay is located just north of the city of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture in the north of Honshū. The bay is filled with numerous small, pine-covered islands and, while it is rarely referred to in poetry of this period, has been visited by poets ever since.

The Forest of Kaminabi

An uta makura famous for its Autumn leaves since the Man’yō period, Kaminabi Forest’s exact location remains unknown, with different works placing it any of the provinces of Settsu, Yamashiro or Yamato. It is known that a shrine was located there and white cords of yuFu ‘mulberry cloth’ were tied to the trees as part of the deity’s worship. Tadamichi is, of course, elegantly confusing the white cloth with the snow in his SKS IV: 157.

Nishiki Bay

Nishiki Bay (nisiki no ura) is thought to have been a poetic location in Shima Province. If so, it was located on the inland sea coast in modern Kisei-chō in the Watarai District of Mie Prefecture. Another possibility places it further south, in modern Nachikatsura-chō in the Higashi Muro district of Wakayama Prefecture.

It was ripe for plays-on-words as nisiki literally translates as ‘brocade’ and ura ‘bay’ is homophonous with ura ‘behind’. So Dōmyō is looking at the bay, but although beyond its beautiful surface.

Mount Mikasa

A poetic location in Yamato: the western peak of Mount Kasuga, located in the east of modern Nara. It was used for wordplay involving kasa ‘umbrella’. The first two lines of the poem, mikasa yama/sasiFanarenu ‘far from Mt Mikasa’ – the woman the man has come to see – suggest kasa sasanu ‘without an umbrella’, leading to, “I heard you (came to see her) without an umbrella (when she had told you not to)-surely (not) in such rain, I thought!”