KKS VI: 314

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nisiki orikaku
sigure no ame wo
tatenuki ni site
The River Tatsuta
Is woven over with brocade;
The Godless Month’s
Rain showers
Make the warp and weft.


2 thoughts on “KKS VI: 314”

  1. This is the best translation I have found yet of this poem, but the romanji is a bit of a nightmare. I believe it should read more like:



    Hope this is helpful to someone out there! It really is a lovely waka. I’ve read elsewhere the it is implied that the brocade is made with autumn colored leaves, so the poem transverses through the autumn to winter season (the Godless month being the first month of winter, I believe according to the lunar calendar, and “shigure” referring to showers at the end of fall or start of winter [Linguee]). For that reason, I think it has a significance being the first winter poem in the Kokinshuu. I also appreciate that there is no known title nor author. The poem simply *is*.

    1. Many thanks for your praise for the translation – it is appreciated!

      On the matter of the transcription, I mention this under ‘Commentary’ in the ‘Note on Transcription’, but briefly the transcription used here reflects how the poem would have been said at the time it was composed. Your version transcribes the poem as if it were modern Japanese (and you are right that this is closer to how someone would read it out loud now).

      You’re also right that ‘brocade’ here is a metaphor for scarlet autumn leaves.

      The ‘Godless Month’ was a term for the Tenth Month of the lunar calendar, and did, indeed, mark the official beginning of the season of Winter. It got its name from the fact that all the native deities (kami) were supposed to assemble in Izumo for a grand conclave during that month and so there was no point in visiting their shrines and praying to them then as they were busy elsewhere.

      Shigure (‘showers’) does, indeed, refer to rain falling at the end of autumn into the beginning of Winter. Officially, it’s a piece of Winter diction, but you will frequently find poets breaking this rule and using it in Autumn ones as well.

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