Sent to a woman without much sentiment, when he had not visited her for a long time:


ise no umi no
ama no madekata
itoma nami
mi wozo uramuru
By the sea at Ise
A diver-girl does work
Without surcease
I hate myself!

Minamoto no Hide’aki

The latest scholarship suggests that the expression should be read madekata (classical Japanese was written without voicing indicators, so there was no orthographic distiction between te and de – both would have been written て) and utilises a Man’yō expression meaning ‘left and right’ referring to the constant side-to-side movement of the ama girls’ hands and shoulders as they worked – hence the translation above – but it is unlikely that the Roppyaku-ban Uta’awase poets would have had this understanding of it. Matekata did not just cause controversy in this competition – it was discussed extensively in many other premodern critical works, none of which came to a definitive conclusion.

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