Tag Archives: girl

Nihon shoki 67

A poem composed by Emperor Ingyō after spending the night with Princess Sotōri.

波那具波辞 佐区羅能梅涅 許等梅涅麼 波椰区波梅涅孺 和我梅豆留古羅

hana guwashi
sakura no mede
koto medeba
hayaku wa medezu
wa ga mezuru kora
So fair the bloom,
I love the cherry blossom, and
Just the same do I love her—sad—that
Earlier I did not love her
That girl I love now.

Kanpyō no ōntoki kisai no miya uta’awase 85



tsure mo naki
hito o kou tote
yamabiko no
kotauru made mo
nagekitsuru kana
A heartless
Girl he loves, says he,
The mountain man,
Until she gives him her reply,
Is full of grief!




wa ga koi wa
miyamagakure no
kusa nare ya
shigesa masaredo
shiru hito no naki
My love:
Hidden in the mountains’ heart are
Grasses-is that it?
Most lush, but
Unknown to all.

Ono no Yoshiki


[1] Kokinshū XII: 560/Shinsen man’yōshū 462

Kanpyō no ōntoki kisai no miya uta’awase 32


This poem is missing from extant copies of the text of the contest.



natsumushi ni
aranu wa ga mi no
tsure mo naki
hito o omoi ni
moyuru koro kana
A summer insect
I am not, but
That heartless
Girl, with passion
Has these days set me burning!


[1] Shinchokusenshū XII: 708

Love X: 1


ashima wake
tsuki ni utaite
kogu fune ni
kokoro zo mazu wa
Parting the reeds, and
Singing to the moon,
Boats come rowing out –
My heart, it is, that is first
Aboard and carried away…


Right (Win)

nami no ue ni
kudaru o fune no
tsuki ni utaishi
imo zo koishiki
Upon the waves,
Her boat departs,
Vanishing into the mist;
That moon-sung
Girl is dear to me, indeed!

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office

A woman wearing a kimono sits in a small boat with her back to the viewer. The boat is on a still river, with mist rolling in gradually obscuring the reflection of the woman and boat. It is night, with a clear sky and full moon shining down from above.
Created with Adobe Firefly.
A kuzushiji version of the poem's text.
Create with Soan.

The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks much of a conception of pleasure girls. In appeal: the poem was written in the conception of Mochitoki’s Chinese poem on pleasure girls ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. The Left state: the Right’s poem has nothing worth mentioning.

In judgement: is the conception of pleasure girls really absent from the Left’s ‘parting the reeds, and singing to the moon’ (ashima wake tsuki ni utaite)? The case certainly cannot rely on ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. A Chinese poem expresses its topic in its initial line. It is normal for the introduction of the topic to be vague. Japanese and Chinese poetry have aspects where they are similar, and aspects where they differ. Thus, it is not appropriate to cite a Chinese poem’s broaching of its topic as evidence for a Japanese poem’s content. There are certainly other examples by Mochitoki, such as his overlong line in ‘in a boat atop the waves, but I find the same pleasure in life’. The line about reed-leaves can in no way function as proof. Thus this poem, as ‘an old fisherman sings a single shanty’ could be said to be about an old man. As a result, given the lack of clarity in the poem, it is not possible to accept that it is about a pleasure girl. The Right’s poem concludes ‘that moon-sung girl is dear to me, indeed’ (tsuki ni utaishi imo zo koishiki). The final line seems to be almost pointlessly pedestrian, but the poem is certainly about love for a pleasure girl. The Right must win.

Love V: 26

Left (Win).

miyako nite
narenishi mono o
hitori ne no
katashiku sode wa
nani ka sabishiki
In the capital
I grew accustomed to it, but
Sleeping alone
With only a single sleeve spread out
Is somehow sad…

Lord Suetsune


imo dani mo
matsu to shi kikaba
koyurugi no
isogu funaji mo
That girl of yours
Awaits you – were I to hear that,
From Koyurugi’s
Rocky shore in haste I’d go, even
The sea-lanes filled with joy!

The Provisional Master of the Empress Household Office.

The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks the essence of love on a journey, and even the sense of sorrow seems insufficient. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no particular faults.

In judgement: what do the Right mean by saying the Left ‘lack the essence of love on a journey’? And is it really right that ‘is somehow sad’ (nani ka sabishiki) is insufficient? The poem is composed to give an impression of someone fooling themselves. The Right’s ‘Koyurugi’ is certainly not an expression which I have not come across. However, the Left should win.