Tag Archives: blooms

Winter I: 9



shimo fureba
wakamurasaki no
iro haete
kiku wa oisenu
hana ni zo arikeru
With frost-fall,
A fresh violet
Hue shines out;
Chrysanthemums show not their age –
Such blooms are they!



Right (Win).


magaki no kiku no
murasaki wa
fuyu ni utsurou
iro ni zo arikeru
Stained a different hue,
The chrysanthemums by my lattice fence
With violet
Show the shift to winter –
Such is their hue!

Lord Tsune’ie.


Neither Left nor Right have any criticisms to make.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems are on ‘violet chrysanthemums’, and the Left’s ‘Chrysanthemums show not their age’ (kiku wa oisenu) is elegant [yū naru], but in terms of diction [kotoba] I find myself unable to accept [shokisubekarazu] ‘hue shines out’ (iro haete). The Right’s ‘Show the shift to winter – such is their hue!’ (fuyu ni utsurou iro ni zo arikeru), sounds pleasant [yoroshiku kikoe habere] and is in line with the Theory of the Five Elements. Violet is a colour obtained by adding black to red. Thus, it is a suitable hue to place between Autumn and Winter. The Right have composed upon such a conception most naturally [sono kokoro shizen ni yomaretaru]. It seems he is most knowledgeable about the elemental turning of the seasons [go gyō no rinten o shireru ni nitari]. The poem is pleasant in conception and configuration [kokoro sugata yoroshiki]. Again, the Right should win.

Autumn II: 8

Left (Win).


yūgiri ni
chigusa no hana wa
kakurenu mono wa
mushi no koegoe
In the evening mists
A multitude of blooms
Are enveloped, yet
Unhidden are
The insects’ songs…

Lord Suetsune.




nobe no iro wa
mina usuzumi ni
shibashi to miyu
yūgiri no sora
The fields’ hues
Have all with a weak wash of ink
Been overlayed;
Only briefly yet visible
Is the misty evening sky…

Lord Takanobu.


An AI generated image showing a view over a meadow in Japan in the early evening. Mist fills the air almost blocking out the sight of the moon, which has just risen, and also deadens and softens the colours of the the grasses and flowers in the meadow.
Created with Adobe Firefly.
A kuzushiji version of the poem's text.
Created with Soan.

The Right state that, ‘The Left’s poem is supposed to be on the theme of “evening mists”, but it seems to be more focussed on “insects”. The Left counter with, ‘the use of “weak wash of ink” (usuzumi) is unsuited to the end of the poem. The theme of “autumn evenings” is dully depicted, is it not?’

Shunzei’s judgement: Although the Left’s poem does begin with ‘in the evening mists’ (yūgiri ni), it certainly is a poem on insects. In terms of diction, though, ‘all with a weak wash of ink’ (mina usuzumi) is not permissible. Thus, even though it is on insects, the Left wins.

Autumn II: 7

Left (Win).


aki wa nao
kiri no nabiki ni
shika nakite
hana mo tsuyukeki
yū narikeri
It truly is autumn –
Through the fluttering mist
Comes the belling of a stag, and
The blooms, too, are dew-drenched
At even time…

Lord Kanemune.




aware o ba
ika ni seyo tote
iriai no
koe uchi souru
shika no ne naran
More sad
Than this there’s nothing!
The evening bell
Tolling, accompanied by
The belling of a stag.

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right wonder, ‘In the expression “the blooms, too”, what does the “too” (mo) connect with? In addition, simply finishing the poem “At even time” (yū narikeri) shows a lack of conception.’ The Left counter that, ‘In the Right’s poem, expressions such as “more sad” (aware o ba) and “the belling of a stag” (shika no ne naran) are feeble. In addition, what of having iriai (“evening [bell]”), without explicitly including “bell” (kane)?’

Shunzei’s judgement: While I do wonder about the expression, ‘at even time’, with the inclusion of ‘too’ in the phrase ‘the blooms, too’, there is the impression of unspoken emotional overtones to the poem. The configuration of the first phrase, too, is particularly tasteful. As for the Right’s poem, it is not the case that iriai must always be accompanied by kane (‘bell’) – one can hear the bell in the phrase. However, overall, the Left’s poem gives a stronger impression, and so wins.

Autumn I: 30



asa madaki
niwa mo magaki mo
tsuyu okiagaru
kusa no ha mo nashi
At the cusp of dawn
My garden and my fence, too,
After the gales,
Are drenched in dew
Flattened blades of grass – every one.

Lord Ari’ie.




muragumo mayoi
fuku kaze ni
makura sadamenu
hana no iroiro
In the dim dusk light
Crowding clouds confusedly
Blown by the breeze
Unable to rest are all
The many blooms.

Lord Takanobu.


The Right state that ‘linking “gales” with “drenched” is a poor expression’, while the Left feel that they have no criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei, again, broadly agrees: ‘What are we to make of the Left’s poem with a fence left standing in a garden after a gale? The Right’s “crowding clouds confusedly” is fine, indeed. Although the term “pillow” is unsuitable in this context, the Left’s “drenched in dew” cannot possibly be right here, either, and so the Right wins.”

Summer II: 16

Left (Win).


kusa no ha nabiku
kaze no ma ni
kakine suzushiki
yūgao no hana
At the first fall of dusk
Blades of grass rustle
In the breeze;
On the brushwood fence coolly
Blooms a moonflower.

Lord Sada’ie.




hikazu furu
yuki ni shioreshi
yūgao sakeru
shizu ga takegaki
Day after passing day
Of snowfall has draped it,
I feel,
Moonflowers blooming on
A peasant’s bamboo fence.

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right state, ‘Both “first fall of dusk” (kuresomete) and “in the breeze” (kaze no ma ni) are unusual expressions.’ The Left in return say, ‘It sounds as if the bamboo fence is weighed down with moonflowers!’ (The Left here are interpreting the verb shioru to mean ‘bend down’ which is one of its senses. I have not followed this in my translation, in line with Shunzei’s judgement, below.)

Shunzei comments, ‘The gentlemen of the Right have stated that “first fall of dusk” (kuresomete) and “in the breeze” (kaze no ma ni) are unusual expressions, but I do not feel this to be particularly the case. As for yuki ni shiroreshi, surely this simply means that the fence is draped. In any case, however, “on the brushwood fence, coolly” is the superior poem in every way.’

Summer II: 15

Left (Tie).


kayaribi no
kemuri ibuseki
shizu no io ni
susukenu mono wa
yūgao no hana
Mosquito smudge fires’
Fumes fill the dreary
Peasant’s hut; but
Untouched by soot are
The moonflower blooms.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Tie).


kemuri tatsu
shizu no iori ka
usugiri no
magaki ni sakeru
yūgao no hana
Is this smoke rising from
The peasants’ huts?
Faintly misted
Blooming on the rough-hewn fence
Are moonflowers…



The Right have no criticisms to make this round. The Left simply say the phrase ‘huts? Faintly misted’ (iori ka usugiri) ‘stands out’.

Again, Shunzei is blunt: ‘The Left’s “untouched by soot” (susukenu) and the Right’s “faintly misted” (usugiri) are both equally poor. The round should tie.’

Summer I: 16

Left (Tie).


kazasu kyō to zo
omoishi ni
hana o oritemo
miewataru kana
With hollyhock I’d
Deck myself today
I thought,
And found all blessed with blooms
Within my sight!

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


kamo no miare no
wataru kyō kana
To mighty
Kamo for these three days have
The hollyhocks
In ever longer lines
Processed toward this day.



The Right, ‘wonder if the Left’s poem doesn’t make the hollyhock seem like an afterthought?’, while the Left content themselves with saying, ‘the initial section of the Right’s poems seems rather dated.’

Shunzei disagrees: ‘The Left’s poem does not make the hollyhocks secondary – rather than implying they are mere decorations, it suggests the beauty of everyone beautifully adorned proceeding toward the shrine. As for the Right’s poem, the use of old-fashioned terms is normal in the context. This makes both poems are equal, and the round should tie.’

Spring III: 27



kanete omou
nagori kana
akarenu hana mo
ne ni kaerinaba
Long have I thought that
Hopeless would be
My regret,
Should the blooms – unsurfeited –
Return to their roots.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


wa ga oshimu
nageki ni soete
omou kana
hana ni okururu
haru no kokoro o
Upon my regretful
Sorrow is heaped
Yet more grief:
With the blossoms gone
That is the sense of spring…

Lord Takanobu.


The Right remark that ‘unsurfeited’ (akarenu) in the Left’s poem is ‘grating on the ear’, while the Left suggest that ‘upon my regretful’ (wa ga oshimu) in the Right’s is less than entirely admirable.

Shunzei contents himself with simply saying that, ‘The Left’s “unsurfeited” sounds worse than the Right’s “upon my regretful”.’

Spring III: 19

Left (Win).


yamabuki no
hana no sakari ni
narinu to ya
ori shirigao ni
kawazu nakuran
Golden kerria
Blooms their peak
Have reached, so
Seeming to know the season
Do the frogs sing on.

Lord Suetsune.




tanimizu no
iwa moru oto wa
sudaku kawazu no
koe nomi zo suru
Waters in the valley
Soak the rocks – the sound
Swallowed by
Swarming frogs’
Singular songs.



Both teams say that they consider the other’s poem to be ‘trite’ [kyūbutsu] this round.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem certainly certainly has a conception [kokoro] which one is well-accustomed to hearing, but I am unable to recall exactly where. In form it is well-constructed [utazama yoroshikuhaberubeshi]. The Right’s initial “Waters in the valley soak the rocks – the sound swallowed” (tanimizu no iwa moru oto wa uzumorete) is excellent [yū], but the latter part is definitely old-fashioned [furite]. Thus, the Left must win.